Kingsborough Community College, of the City University of New York (CUNY), offers a two-year Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in marine technology with a focus on vessel operations. The college is located on a 72-acre waterfront campus in Brooklyn, surrounded by Jamaica Bay, Sheepshead Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean – the ideal spot for a marine technology program.
Kingsborough was originally the site of a maritime training station during World War II but was given to the City of New York by the federal government in the mid-1960s and has been a community college ever since. The marine technology program began in 1984. With more than 1,000 marinas and boat basins in the New York/New Jersey area, marine technology students have ample opportunity for hands-on work experience during their training and many job opportunities upon graduation.
"[Our students] can repair engines, fix electrical systems, steer, and navigate – and they know the rules of the road and emergency procedures"
A Focus on the Basics
The marine technology classes feature a strong emphasis on hands-on training. “Every course has a certain amount of didactic instruction, but the bulk of our training gets students out of that sitting position and working on fiberglass, solving navigation problems, fixing electronic equipment, learning how to pilot a vessel – that kind of thing,” explains professor Joseph Muzio, who directs the Office of Marine Education.
The program recognizes that marine technology appeals to a certain caliber of person – non-traditional learners. “Our students don’t want just to memorize things, they want to do things and be out on the water,” Muzio says. Kingsborough’s marine technology instructors come directly from industry, so they are teaching what they do themselves every day.
“We focus on what workers need to know to keep equipment operational,” Muzio explains. “Our graduates have a wide range of skills,” he continues. “They can repair engines, fix electrical systems, steer, and navigate – and they know the rules of the road and emergency procedures.”
An important benefit of the program is that students are given credits and 225 days of sea service towards a Coast Guard license. Students who pass a test within a year after graduation receive a Coast Guard master’s license for up to 200 gross tons.
Vessel Technology (I and II)
Seamanship theory and fundamentals of vessel operations, including vessel handling, piloting, applied engineering technology, operating rigging, and deck machinery. Extensive on-board training. Coast Guard procedures, towing, vessel stability, and meteorology. Practical experience with charter-boat fishing, oceanographic survey work, vessel delivery, and cruising.
"Our students don’t want just to memorize things, they want to do things and be out on the water"
Focus on light marine vessels. Design, installation, operation, and maintenance of electronic equipment including echosounders, Loran-C, electronic charts, course plotters, radar, sonar, and marine radios.
Nautical charts, the marine compass, piloting, tides and currents, position determination, aids to navigation, and marine electronics. Preparation for appropriate, safe navigation of a vessel in coastal and near-coastal waters.
The program has several vessels at its disposal, including a 46-foot former buoy tender from the Coast Guard (with an A-frame, hoists, and several winches), which Kingsborough’s physical and biological science faculty can use for research. Marine technology students help on these cruises and gain experience with practical tasks like using research equipment and doing marine inventories. The program also has a utility boat and several sailboats.
Graduates find work in many fields. “Some work on vessels in New York and around this area, some are in the Coast Guard, others are working on yachts or private tugs or in marinas, while still others are in diesel mechanics,” Muzio explains. Students who have completed the program work in positions such as chief mate, captain, small engine mechanic, assistant manager of a marina, tug crew, mate on a private yacht, and marina salesperson.
Muzio takes every opportunity to spread the word about marine technology to the community. Recently he has spoken to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and other groups, and he arranges for community groups to visit the facilities and get information on marine technology.
The program is also getting help from the community – in the form of an advisory committee, which formed last year. “We’ve got a real mix of fields represented, which is just what is needed,” Muzio says. Members include the captain of a fishing vessel, a representative of the Sea Grant program, educators, and maritime industry experts.
Muzio looks forward to the advice and practical help he’ll receive from his advisory committee. For example, he wants suggestions on how to modify and improve his program’s curriculum. He also wants advice on the best way to acquire – or at least have use of – the latest technology.
Establishing an advisory committee is one way to work at continually improving the program. Muzio believes that becoming a MATE Center educational partner is another way. “I think the MATE Center can help promulgate marine technology,” he explains. “This can benefit us all – students, faculty, and entire programs.”
Muzio also sees great benefit in working as part of a larger group. “We can all learn from how other MATE Center partners are improving their programs and what curriculum they’re developing, for example,” he explains. “As a consortium of institutions and individuals involved in marine technology education, MATE can bring about more collaborative relationships. There’s a mutual benefit to working together.”
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