Training tomorrow’s marine workforce . . . and today’s boaters
It’s been a good while since dugout canoes, masted schooners, and steam-powered work boats plied Northwest waters, docking at Anacortes to trade goods and refuel. Such working craft are now outnumbered along Fidalgo Island shores by pleasure boats, but marine industries remain at the heart of the local economy and helped shape Anacortes as a leading tourist and boating destination.
The city’s deep-water port and mature marine services industry support over 2,500 registered boats in six marinas and dry-docks. But the coastal scene provides more than pretty photo ops—diverse services, provisioning—and now instruction—attract and serve both residents and visitors year-round.
Training for the future
With the 2010 opening of the Marine Technology Center, the industry established an even more solid footing. A satellite campus of Northwest Career and Technical Academy, the center is a regional model for instruction with state-of-the-art lab spaces, professional certificate training, and progressive business partnerships. Through a partnership with Skagit Valley College, the center is also home to the college Marine Maintenance Technology Program. Plus, it’s located in the heart of the state’s rich heritage of boat and shipbuilders, marinas, yards, and specialty companies.
“The marine industry requires problem solvers and critical thinkers–people who know both how and why boats and ships work the way they do. These are the skills we strive to instill in our students every day,” says Ann Avary, director, Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing & Technology.
The successful classroom and hands-on training is proving a valuable stepping stone. Program graduates are in demand in the marine sector as well as elsewhere among the state’s rich and diverse tech-oriented industries.
“Our marine technology students regularly start work at $14 to $17 per hour and can soon be earning $20 to $25 per hour depending on the job and location,” says marine maintenance technology department chair Mike Beemer. The former Anacortes High School math teacher has extensive experience in both commercial and recreational boating and holds a Master Technician credential from the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC).
Blue and green
The school’s state-of-the-art facilities model best 21st-century practices. The energy-efficient construction and operation include solar panels, geothermal heating, rain gardens, and integration of sustainable and renewable practices directly into the curriculum.
Not for students only
But that’s not all! The center’s educational program is available not only to currently enrolled students, but to anyone who wants training in marine vessel systems and propulsion.
If winter’s gray has you dreaming of sunshine and distant shores, what better time to brush up on your boating skills, learn to troubleshoot a diesel or gas engine, or even jump-start a lucrative new career? Areas of study include electronics, electrical systems, system components, composites, mechanics/ engines/propulsion, woodworking, and navigation. Registration is now open for the winter quarter, which begins January 5, 2016.
If this valuable new asset piques your interest, stroll over and visit this forward-looking campus. It’s located in the heart of the Anacortes marine district on 16th Street, adjacent to the Tommy Thompson Trail where it runs along R Avenue. Along the way, stop for an overview of marine technology history and sustainable practices spelled out on the new Trail Tales interpretive signage.
written December 2015 by Jan Hersey