Getting in and progressing through the engineering ranks

Going through the licensing process ? Have queries, comments, or do you need an answer to that obscure exam question ? This is the place to post.
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The Dieselduck
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 1:41 pm
Currently located: Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada (West Coast of Canada)

Getting in and progressing through the engineering ranks

Postby The Dieselduck » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:59 am

Getting in, and progressing through the engineering ranks, has long been a professional pet peeve of mine. In a bid to understand the process Ive had to educate myself about our system, which is why I laid out the training path, on the Training Page, on the main site. I have long sought to compare the Canadian system with the rest of the world. STCW are suppose to have removed these difference, but in my experience this is not the case. I find this disappointing for Canadians, as it affects me tremendously.

Martin in Australia, you may see his post below under viewtopic.php?f=9&t=167&p=3942#p3903, has been kind enough to let us follow him through his entrance and progression in our profession. I asked him a few days ago the same question I have asked many other peers over many years, and the answer was not surprising to me.

I am curious what you think, and hopefully you will share your comments and though on this subject. The biggest challenge to this evolution is the comparison of apples. Sometimes we have oranges; but with STCW its easier to understand the scope of some claims so give it a try.

I will reproduce the post from the other threads below to introduce further the topic...

"In reference to the level of qualification I will hold.. it will be a 3rd Engineers Certificate.

I have studied all of the theory required to gain an Advanced Diploma of Marine Engineering which is equivalent to Chief Engineer level. I started the course in 2008, did 12 weeks pre sea training and then went to sea for the remainder of the year on 2 different vessels with a short break in between.
In 2009 I completed the Diploma of Marine Engineering which is equivalent to 3rd Engineer level.
2010 I completed Second Engineer and Chief Engineer theory.

Here in Australia we must do an AMSA approved course to gain the theoretical knowledge required and also must have a minimum of 36 weeks sea time to be able to qualify for a 3E certificate. In the future after I have served enough time as 3E, all I have to do to gain my 2E qualification is sit an Oral exam. "

To which I replied...

"Yes that is what I thought. Thanks for the info. This system of getting your license, I believe, is pretty typical of many nations. Which kind of upsets me because in Canada we seem to have as many roadblocks as possible to young person being able to get a maritime license in a timely fashion. Its actually a bit ridiculous. You can see the path for Canadian engineer on my training page.

I particularly like your requirement for second class upgrade, seems simple enough. The initial stages of your training is relatively the same for cadets in Canada, where the big difference is when upgrading to higher licenses.

You were obviously quite motivated in your progression, judging by the tight timeline. Good on you.

I am curious, do you feel confident in your job or do you think more experience / training would be better - is the training is adequate?

I sometimes feel like immigrating to another country, like Australia, which I think would do my career advancement wonders. Here, with a family, I just don't have the time to study and jump through all these hoops designed to fail you. So I, like many other engineers get stuck in our positions, unless you become divorce, or will be after upgrading to the next license. Which is why there is no wonder that Canadians will never threaten the Maritime Status of pretty much any other nation, even Switzerland.

In my travels, I had always ask this training progression question to my peers, from a majority of the seafaring world, and the only licensing systems that I found similar to Canada's was Venezuela and Chili. The rest were very similar to the AMSA model - Norwegians, Dutch, Italian, Croatian, etc. Although I understand the Croatian system is has changed considerably now. "

What is your experience, and thoughts on this. Do you think Canada's system is competitive, are we at a disadvantage. Is is justified. Is it different than other countries?
Martin Leduc
Certified Marine Engineer and Webmaster
Martin's Marine Engineering Page

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Big Pete
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Currently located: Solihull, England

Re: Getting in and progressing through the engineering ranks

Postby Big Pete » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:35 am

Hi Martin,

I don't really have any experience with the Canadian system, apart from one voyage as Second Engineer on the Irving Canada about 25 years ago and a more recent trip with a Canadian Master and Mate, but no one else is taking the bait so....

I tend to prefer the old British system of alternating Sea Time and shore study, although many countries are moving towards a system where entrants take a Degree course in Nautical Science or Engineering and are then automatically awarded their certificates when they have sufficient sea time. This move was largely cost driven.
The danger is when youngsters come to Sea, having been tought the correct way to do things, they then sail with less competent Engineers who tell them to forget all the" theoretical nonsense" they have learnt and do everything the cowboy way.
After a few years the youngsters have forgotten everything they were taught in Pre sea training and have become cowboys themselves.
The "Sandwich course" approach, with alternating shore training and sea experience should enable people to have a better understanding of what they do onboard and why, and it is the only way to implement change in the Industry.
Also, if people do not have any practical experience of an Engine Room how can they understand everything you have to know for the theoretical side of Engineering knowledge??
I knew an Engineer who went to a UK university to study Marine Engineering after already having either his Chief's or Seconds ticket and he told me that there was a discussion about Bilge strum boxes in one Lecture and everybody except him thought that putting micronic fileters in the strum boxes would be a good idea. This was obviously based on the ssumption that if a filter is a good idea, then a finer filter would be an even better one. Just totally impractical.
I have also sailed with a lot of Poles who appeared to be trained as Fitters ashore, come top Sea as Motormen or Fitters then get promoted to Engineers and they have very poor General education, little theoretical knowledge about Chemistry of coorossion etc. (I have had them put Aluminium engine pistons into acid to clean them, clean B & K filter candles (with Aluminium ferrules) in Disc clean, fit Brass fittings in Sea water systems, cross connect a domestic hot water boiler with a sea water system, dose domestic Fresh water tanks with swimming pool chlorination tablets, to the strength reccommended for swimming pools, and in every case they are surprised at the results!!

Too many of the Engineers I see now, Polish, Filipino and even English are just day work mechanics. They do not have the knowledge of Systems Engineering, Physics, Chemistry etc to diagnose what has gone wrong and carry out a root cause analysis and correct the problem. They no longer have the watchkeeping skills or knowledge of the layout of the plant that used to be taken for granted, and , except for the Poles, they are not even good mechanics.

With the increasing level of sophistication of ships, the senior Officers, Chief, second, ETO should be educated to degree level and this should preferably be done as a Sandwich course, few 21 year olds fresh from University will be able to withstand the united opposition from all the ship's Engineers when they are told they are talking a load of theoretical rubbish and "This is the proper way to do it". You have to repeatedly take the trainees back to College to reinforce safe working practices and good Engineering Practice if the cowboys are not going to end up running shipping.

It is always better to ask a stupid question than to do a stupid thing.

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