What's it like being a Naval Architect?
December 7, 2006 6:11 AM   Subscribe

What's it like being a Naval Architect?

I am considering a career change to become a Naval Architect and wondered if anybody out there who is/was/is training to be one could shed a little like on the pros and cons of the job. For example
1. Where are the best places to study?
2. Where do you work now?
3. What is a typical career progression?
4. What is day to day work like for you?
5. What skills to you most need to draw upon? (how might that mixture differ from building architecture in terms of mixing technical, managerial, political and artistic influences for example).
I am in the UK and married to an American so impressions related to work/study in either of these countries would be particularly welcome.
posted by rongorongo to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
This isn't super relevent, but I remember in my applying-for-fellowships phase last year, I noticed that the NDSEG fellowshow loves to fund naval architects (stats here) because there are so few of them and the navy needs research done in that area in a bad way. So if you do end up studying, take a look. It's a nice fellowship, and doesn't incur any responsibility to work for the DoD/DARPA/whatever post graduation.
posted by heresiarch at 6:57 AM on December 7, 2006

I knew a guy who went to Webb Institute. It's hard to get into, but it's free and all they teach is naval architecture.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:45 PM on December 7, 2006

I'll pass this off to my friend who completed a degree in Naval Engineering in Sydney a couple of years back. Similar but different to your field.

I *do* know that currently he works in Auckland, NZ for a company that does advanced composite work, including turning carbon/kevlar boat designs into 'kits' of composite sheeting for assembly; and desiging/specifying big fcuk-off composite superyachts.

I believe he enjoys it.
posted by pivotal at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2006

My SO is a marine engineer. We currently live in Korea, where he's working on a FPSO (a floating, storage, production and offloading vessel). He's not a marine architect but he works with them every day.

If you like to travel, you will have plenty of opportunity to do it. You will also have the chance to meet people from all over the world. If you like to work outside (as in, not in an office) you can do that too. My husband refers to a good day at work as one when he gets to go out on the ship and examines the work of the contractors. Now that construction on his project is actually underway, these days happen a lot more often.

SO went to a maritime academy in the US and now works for a major oil company. He's worked there for nearly 8 years (he's 33 now). He's been told that, at his age, he's an asset, since most of the people in this business are either about to retire or straight out of college. Husband basically has his pick of where he wants to go and what projects he wants to work on. Options include moving back to Houston (our permanent home), Singapore, China, Australia, Scotland, Norway, Nova Scotia, etc., etc. Before we met he worked on rotation, sailing on ships half the year, which he loved because that also means you have half the year off (for basically the same salary). Now we are on project work, which can mean anything from six months to three years away from home at a time.

I'm curious what you are doing now, why you are considering switching paths and how similar your current field is to marine naval architecture.

As far as your wife is concerned, I had to quit my job before we moved to Korea but it took about 3 seconds to decide to do that. The money we make (and save) being overseas more than makes up for my old job, and the experiences could never be replaced with money. However, I am not close to my family, we do not have children and both of us absolutely love to travel. You may be in a different situation that makes things more difficult. If your wife wants to/can come with you when you travel, that's awesome, but we also know several couples who are split by thousands of miles, and they all make it work.

I know this isn't the exact info you were looking for but I hope it helps you in your decision.
posted by Brittanie at 11:50 PM on December 8, 2006

Many thanks for all of your replies on this. Brittanie - you asked for a little more information on my background so here goes: I'm in my late 30s and currently work as a software developer. I've been interested in boats and ships for a long while - I sail on dinghies and keel boats and currently am part of an inshore lifeboat crew. I have worked as a user interface designer and ergonomist since graduating but - despite having one undergraduate and a couple of postgraduate degrees I would foresee having to beef up my knowledge of maths and physics with some preliminary qualifications ("A levels" in the UK).
posted by rongorongo at 2:57 PM on December 10, 2006

« Older Office 2007 UI alternatives ?   |   PalmOS pda/phone w/ Voice Recorder? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.