Tag: training

I am not sure if I have ever expounded on my theory on the path to the middle class in the M&O blog. The theory is simple: Only maritime provides a reliable path to the middle class for those who seek it. There are very good technical and economical reasons for that assertion, which I may make the subject of another blog some time in the future. Meanwhile, find me a solid middle class anywhere in the world, and I will bet that maritime had an important role in it.

 

Unfortunately, in the US, we have lost our connection with that reality, and our middle class is weakening as I am writing this, but, fortunately, there are people out there who are willing to make an effort to fix the problem.

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As American parents, my wife and I went through the usual terrors of teaching the offspring to drive.

 

Once we were reasonably sure our youngest could drive on her own, she asked us if we would pay for her Street Survival class. We had never heard of this program, and this is a shame, because it turned out it is one of the greatest training programs I have ever seen.

 

Street Survival was the brain child of sports car enthusiast in the US who realized that, because young drivers never had driven their car at the performance edge, they were bound to fail if they found themselves at a performance edge emergency.  (Think of a young driver flipping the car while trying to avoid a deer crossing the road.)

 

With support of a number of automotive supply companies, these sports car enthusiasts developed a one day program that they run themselves. For very little money ($95), young drivers will be exposed to an effective and fun learing experience that can truly save their lives, but, besides that, the program also provides useful training ideas for other training programs, including maritime.

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Capt. Terry Ogg published a thoughtful article on safety culture and training on LinkedIn. The title is “Why it's time to deep-six our current safety culture,” but within the article he provides an even better meme: The Whac-a-Mole Safety Game.

 

The meme explains the tendency to simply hit at every possible human error that occurs and to paper it over with new procedures. Capt. Ogg, instead, advocates the cognitive approach. He is speaking about training highly functioning humans who have a desire to stay alive and can figure out how to do that regardless of the situation they find themselves in. To me that is the classic definition of a mariner: A human who goes away on ships and through training, experience and intelligence manages to deal with the natural unpredictability and complexity of the seas and make it back in one piece, and does this time and time again.

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By traditional training I am not a Naval Architect. I actually studied to become an Aerospace and Ocean engineer. My education at Virginia Tech as an Aerospace and Ocean engineer was nothing more than a lucky coincidence, since it allowed me to indulge my youthful passions of sailing, flight and space.

 

Over the years I ended up spending much more time on the water, but that path was not so clear at the time of my graduation. My senior project was a self launched home buildable glider, not a boat.

 

My team won a national award for the design and after that it was shelved and I went the maritime way.

 

However, recently, I have decided to reopen my personal path to flight, mostly to re-experience what it feels like to learn something from scratch.

 

Last fall, I started taking soaring lessons at Jersey Ridge Soaring in Blairstown, NJ. Jersey Ridge Soaring is one of those unexpected New Jersey gems; a surprisingly good soaring location with excellent staff, and instructors on a lovely airport with an excellent diner.

 

While it is a rather long drive for me, the last part of the drive is a truly pretty country drive and the return drive always gives me the chance to mentally go over my old man feeble attempts at learning a new eye hand coordination routine.

 

Especially as an engineer, I generally feel I am overthinking the task at hand, and that tends to make a mess of things when it requires rapid eye, hand, feet, and instrument feedback response. Stick and rudder coordination is no different than riding a bike or sailing a sailboat. The only difference is that I learned to ride a bike, and sail a sailboat when I was quite young with a blank slate brain and felt little social pressure or embarrassment when I made a mess of things. Today, I have to deal with a brain that is mostly prewired for not flying gliders.

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The year is not quite over, but, since I wrote a 2012 top 10 Maritime Things blog, I now feel somewhat driven to think about a 2013 top 10. Like last year, the subjects I am picking may not be entirely 2013 subjects, but they certainly came to the fore to me in this year.

 

So here it goes in no particular order of preference:

 

1.      MARITIME STEM

 

STEM education, which stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math education is the really big thing in education in the United States in 2013. Incredible amounts of money are spent to figure out ways to teach STEM more effectively. Meanwhile some schools and educators are shrugging their shoulders about STEM because they already know how to do it and are not struggling at all. Those schools are the maritime high schools and maritime academies. Those schools have developed seamless programs that integrate STEM in the normal course of the day simply by placing the students in a maritime setting. Since maritime education is deeply cultural it actually has already driven past the STEM concept and more accurately operates in the STEMPHLA arena where Science Technology Engineering and Math are tightly integrated with Philosophy, History, Language and Arts education. read more »

Engineering is an unusual profession. While it is often thought to be related to math and science and thought to be exact, it actually is a very complex blend of perspiration, inspiration, communication, confusion, calculation and evaluation and the math and science is only a tiny part of a much larger whole.

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We all like to kid about acronym soup, and it is pretty difficult to keep up with all the new ones. I remember that as a young engineer I was always hesitant to ask in public, because I was afraid that asking the question would prove my ignorance.

 

Somewhere in my career I crossed that bar and now when somebody uses an acronym that I don't know (well, at my age, it generally is an acronym I can't remember), I no longer worry about admitting my ignorance and simply ask what it means. Occasionally I even emerge victoriously without trying when the acronym dropper cannot tell me what it means. 

 

Martin & Ottaway has been deeply involved in a specific acronym progression that has roiled the maritime industry for a while now. It began in the 1990's with QMS, it begat TQM, then it begat ISM, which begat SMS, which begat STCW, which begat ISPS, which begat ECP and dozens of derivative acronym offshoots. And to deal with all of it, the industry developed the corporate HQSE department and Martin & Ottaway functions as an HQSE consultant. HQSE stands for Health, Quality, Safety and Environmental. At first glance, this acronym is reasonably inclusive of the systems that a well run shipping company needs to have in place to satisfy the demands that are not directly related to the company's income producing model. We like to call them "for the public" systems, because they allow a company to function as a responsible world citizen (and more importantly, based on our experience, they actually add to the corporate bottom line). 

 

But the acronym is not complete and misses a number of important concepts.

 

I was struggling with this when writing a paper about recent HQSE system issues that I will be presenting at the SNAME annual meeting on October 26. That paper shows that training systems need to be an integral component of HQSE systems. This led me to wonder about how to introduce the "T" for training into HQSE.

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On a recent trip to Sicily to deal with construction issues on a number of high speed catamarans, I saw this forklift parked in a director's reserved parking spot.

 

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