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Classes for a Marine Engineer & Architect

by Kevin Wandrei

Marine engineers and architects are involved in the building and maintenance of ships, boats and the related equipment needed to navigate on the seas. While these jobs are part engineering and architecture, they also require knowledge of the dynamics of the ocean. As such, classes in traditional engineering and architecture fields mixed with studies in oceanography and other maritime issues offer a useful mix suitable for a career in marine engineering.

Advanced Mathematics

The first and most important coursework a student should undertake with a career goal in marine architecture is math -- and lots of math. At the absolute minimum, students should complete math coursework through the level of calculus. In addition, trigonometry is especially important to naval and marine engineering because trigonometry helps a student understand angles and measures. Such measurements are at the heart of designing ships, boats and related mechanisms. Advanced geometric analysis would also be beneficial.

Engineering and Energy Physics

Since the field is, after all, called marine engineering, it makes sense that students should have a firm understanding of engineering. The one thing that makes marine engineering and architecture different from others fields is the breadth of knowledge it requires. While other engineering classes might focus narrowly on one aspect of the field, ocean engineers must constantly apply knowledge from numerous subsections of engineering, including mechanical, electrical, civil and even acoustical. In addition, the physics of energy and fuel are increasingly important to ship design, so a student could benefit from a course or two in that subject.

Oceanography and Environmental Science

Ships and boats can't be adequately designed with engineering knowledge alone; instead, a student must know something about the waters in which a boat will navigate. Building a submarine, for example, requires a student to understand how water pressure varies as a vessel submerges deeper into the ocean. The salty and corrosive waters also present a unique challenge to ocean engineers and architects that their land-locked counterparts rarely face. Understanding the science behind the the ocean's salinity will be enormously helpful in guiding an ocean engineering in choosing materials and parts that can withstand the harsh environment.

GIS and Computer Technology

Ocean engineers and architects rely extensively on computer technologies to help in all phases of a project's development. At the most basic level, computer design programs like AutoCAD are incredibly important for creating usable drafts of a proposed ship or other project. In addition, statistical software knowledge is also important for handling new and innovative projects that require extensive research about the materials or environments in which they'll operate. As such, Geographic Information Systems are also a useful tool, especially for projects that will work within a specific region of the ocean. Working around active underwater volcanic areas, for example, might require assessing the waters conditions geographically before going ahead with planning and construction.

About the Author

Kevin Wandrei has written extensively on higher education. His work has been published with Kaplan, Textbooks.com, and Shmoop, Inc., among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Cornell University.

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