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What Undergraduate Degree Recommended To Enter Shipbuilding Industry?

  1. Feb 22, 2014 #1
    What degree would you think as beneficial/necessary to enter the shipbuilding industry? I am specifically (as per this forum) asking about the engineers who design the hull and/or internal structures of modern cargo ships (containerized and bulk carriers), not really construction crews or seamen. A civil engineer would be heavily involved with similar structures on land, but what about those meant for deployment at sea on a ship? Also, what degree would be related to the hydrostatics and hydrodynamics of hull building/design? I figure that mechanical engineering would be related to the powerplant of the ship, but isn't that usually done by an external engine supplier? Moving up "the ladder" over time on the business side of things is also a consideration.

    Or, do I have it all wrong?

    P.S: Being required to move to an industrial hub like S. Korea is not an isssue to take into account.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2014 #2

    SteamKing

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    The engineers who deal with ship design are called naval architects. Training as a naval architect involves not only learning about engineering ship structures, especially those made out of steel, aluminum, or composites, but you also get the basic undergrad engineering course material (at least in US schools) which is common to many other engineering degrees, like mechanical engineering, for example.

    Not only are naval architects trained in structural engineering, but since a ship floats, there is extensive training in ship stability, to make sure the vessel floats and floats upright, and the motions of vessels in waves. You are also exposed to vessel design, the tools with which you can estimate the size of the vessel required to carry its cargo and serve its intended route of operation, and how to lay out the internal spaces of a ship. For powered vessels, you are also taught how to estimate the power required to attain the vessel's service speed.

    In the United States, there are a handful of schools which grant degrees in naval architecture. Typically, the undergraduate degree in N.A. is a four year program resulting in a B.S. degree. The U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the U. of California at Berkeley are the largest school offering such degrees, both at the undergrad and grad level. MIT in Cambridge, MA offers both undergrad and graduate degrees in naval architecture. All three schools are quite well known in this field and have trained many prominent N.A.s over the years.

    Michigan has a school of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. UC Berkeley and MIT have departments of Ocean Engineering, which share facilities with the Mechanical Engineering department:

    http://www.me.berkeley.edu/Grad/Areas/ME_Main_Frame_Ocean_Eng.htm [Broken]

    http://name.engin.umich.edu/

    http://oe.mit.edu/

    There is one school, Webb Institute, located on Long Island, which offers one program, leading to a dual degree of B.S. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Marine Engineering focuses on the design of propulsion and auxiliary machinery installed in ships. Webb has one program, is housed on its own campus, which is a former estate on Long Island Sound, and the student body is small: the entering class is about 25 and the entire student body is never more than about 70 students total. Although only an undergrad degree is granted, graduates of Webb usually have no problem getting into the graduate programs at MIT or Michigan if they chose.

    Webb also requires that its students also be exposed to work in the marine industry all four years of the program, with the first year working in a shipyard, the second year sailing onboard a ship, and the final two years working in a design or engineering office. One of the attractions of Webb is that on acceptance, you are basically awarded a four-year scholarship, since the tuition is free, and you are expected to pick up the modest room and board charge and buy your textbooks. Students live on campus in the estate. (disclaimer and plug: I am a graduate of Webb)

    http://www.webb.edu/

    If you wish to study abroad, there are several good schools in the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

    One word of caution: don't go into these programs unless you like to study and have a rather good preparation in math and science at the high school level. Because of the amount of material covered in four years is quite large, you will be taking about 20 hours a semester every semester you are in school. These are core subjects, and there is not much time left for electives or extracurricular activity.

    Shipbuilding is a global business nowadays. One need not live near a shipyard in order to be a naval architect. Drawings and other technical data needed to build a ship can be prepared in one country and sent to another by the miracle of the internet.

    Good Luck!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Feb 23, 2014 #3

    jtbell

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    If anyone is wondering why Michigan would have a naval architecture program, consider that it's bordered by four of the five Great Lakes, which carry a lot of shipping in sometimes very harsh conditions. Do a Google search on "Edmund Fitzgerald" if you're not acquainted with that disaster.
     
  5. Feb 23, 2014 #4

    SteamKing

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    There is a lengthy history of the NA & ME program at Michigan on its website:

    http://name.engin.umich.edu/about/history/

    In addition to its proximity to the Great Lakes, the size of the U of M allows it to fund the facilities like a towing tank and hydrodynamic labs which support the educational goals of this specialized program. The U of M also hosted an NROTC program, so that engineering students who wished to serve in the navy could get their schooling paid for by the USN. I applied for and got an NROTC scholarship when I was in high school, but I chose Webb over Michigan because while the NROTC scholarship was generous, it did not defray all expenses, IIRC.

    This latter point is an especially important consideration. At Webb, you could get a top-notch engineering education for a modest investment and have multiple career opportunities available on graduation. I haven't checked costs lately, but the full Webb program probably costs less than one or two years at other schools, especially if you don't have a scholarship or other grants. Graduating essentially debt-free gives one a big boost economically these days.
     
  6. Feb 23, 2014 #5
    Marine Engineering would seem the obvious choice - check out universities in major ports like Glasgow and Plymouth if you are in the UK.
     
  7. Feb 23, 2014 #6

    SteamKing

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    In the UK, the University of Newcastle has one of the older and well-known naval architecture programs.

    Marine Engineering is a related field to naval architecture. Marine engineering concerns itself primarily with the propelling and auxiliary machinery design for ships. The old saw is that a marine engineer depends on the naval architect to keep his machinery dry.
     
  8. Feb 23, 2014 #7
    Thank you all for your advice, especially SteamKing. I had never heard of Webb Institute, but now after reading several pages about it on various websites (mostly their own), I think that Webb is the place where I want to apply and ultimately go, if I can get accepted. Thank you so much for the advice!
     
  9. Feb 23, 2014 #8

    SteamKing

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    Glad to hear that Salty. It's not clear where you are from, but I should advise you that according to its charter and the wishes of its founder, Webb only considers applications from U.S. citizens. This was the policy when I went there, but I don't know if it has changed.
     
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