A group of 16 students graduated on Friday, Sept. 17 in the new 4,800-square-foot Marine Systems Building, the first to occupy the structure on the 7-acre campus in Lower Port …
A group of 16 students graduated on Friday, Sept. 17 in the new 4,800-square-foot Marine Systems Building, the first to occupy the structure on the 7-acre campus in Lower Port Hadlock.
The students were the fifth class of the six-month Marine Systems Program to graduate from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.
The program was created by Marine Systems Lead Instructor Kevin Ritz, and launched in October 2018.
“This is a rigorous program that blends theoretical learning with hands-on practice. Students build competencies across a range of marine systems disciplines through hard work and lots of practice,” Ritz said.
Areas covered by the comprehensive curriculum include marine electrical; plumbing; outboard and diesel engines; electrical propulsion; steering and controls; HVAC; hydraulics, and corrosion.
Of special note, 15 of the 16 new graduates passed the Marine Electrical Certification Exam offered by the American Boat and Yacht Council, giving them a running start on future jobs.
“That’s a challenging 200-question exam and demonstrates that the graduates of our program are ready to safely take on marine electrical projects when they enter the trade,” Ritz added.
New graduate Ned Flash entered the program with the goal of working in a Seattle boatyard, and was successful. He is preparing for his new job at CSR Marine, located in Ballard.
“The program was exactly what I needed to take the next step in my career in the maritime industry,” Flash said.
“The experience, expertise, and connections of the instructors allowed me to get the exact job I was hoping for when I started school,” he said.
Archie Carrico, a 2019 graduate from the first class of the Marine Systems Program, was the commencement speaker. He pointed out that eight of the 11 members of his class were veterans, and that just shy of 75 percent of his class entered the marine industry in one manner or another, with half the class initially working in the Puget Sound Region.
Carrico encouraged the new grads with the affirmation, “Most graduates from the first cohort forged new careers by combining new skills learned at the school with previous life experiences.”
Jordan Primus, a 2011 graduate from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding program, is a co-instructor for the Marine Systems Program.
This is the first graduating class he helped teach, and he’s proud of this group and their accomplishments, noting, “The knowledge that these students gained over the last six months will now be carried by the graduates into the real world and make the marine industry better in so many ways.”
The maritime industry pumps billions of dollars into the Puget Sound region each year and demand is at an all-time high to meet employment needs. Jefferson County has more than 400 jobs alone, and with an aging workforce set to retire in the next decade, existing training programs are working hard to meet current and future demand, school officials noted.
The boat school started a new academic year Oct. 4, with a full class of Boatbuilding and Marine Systems students. The school has weathered the COVID storm with resilience by adapting class structures and adhering to strict public health preventative measures, school officials said.
“This is hands-on training,” executive director Betsy Davis said.
“Students cannot learn these topics virtually and they use the experience of the course to gain real-world practice prior to diving into the work force,” she said.
Since developing the Marine Systems Program in February 2017, the school has graduated more than
50 students from the program, many of whom had job offers prior to graduation.