By Sarah Devlin
ABYC Content Director
The ABYC Foundation, with executive director Margaret Podlich at the helm, remains laser-focused on maintaining a direct connection between the marine industry and the schools and training programs that are educating future marine technicians.
Podlich’s bi-weekly newsletter The Network reaches industry folks and educational institutions around the country; the Educator Training Conference brings the two groups together to discuss challenges and solutions related to locating and maintaining a skilled and effective workforce. And, last month, the ABYC Foundation launched the Marine Trades Accreditation Program to further strengthen the workforce-development pipeline.
In keeping with these initiatives, the ABYC Foundation annually shines a spotlight on one of the most important parts in the training and employment equation: Educators.
Every year, the ABYC Foundation honors outstanding industry, high school, or post-secondary instructors who are preparing future marine service technicians for work in the marine industry. In 2021, the Foundation received multiple strong candidates, nominated by peers, administrators, and students.
“Each year, I hear about the extraordinary work the technical marine service instructors are doing, especially with COVID restrictions and having to take hands-on instruction into an online environment,” Podlich states. “I am astonished by the heart and quality of these educators.”
In 2021, the ABYC Foundation named two Educators of the Year: One recipient from the industry and one from a school.
“We see amazing training for people entering the industry,” Podlich says. “And we witness exceptional training for those who are already professionals in the industry. Two recipients was a no-brainer.”
Magnus Gedda, Volvo Penta of the Americas
Tony Kelleher, acting president of Volvo Penta of the Americas, nominated Magnus Gedda, their manager of product training, for his ability to identify a plausible way to deliver hands-on education in a digital world. When they opted to increase the online components of their courses, they didn’t foresee a significant increase in students. But, that’s what happened.
“In 2020, we were on target to reach our goal, and we realized if we took our foot off the gas [because of COVID restrictions], we would lose our momentum,” Kelleher states.
As the former lead technician for the Volvo Ocean Race, Gedda was comfortable with sudden changes and midstream upsets. “We have an extensive portfolio of offerings in our dealer network,” Kelleher says. He explained that the trainers would develop the curriculum to be certified and set a base level of experience, before they would begin in-person instruction at training at facilities all over the US. “In 2020, we couldn’t have in-person training,” he says. “How could we deliver hands-on tech training at a higher level without people grouped around an engine or a part? Gedda took the challenge.”
Originally from Borås, Sweden, Gedda develops and oversees the marine and industrial product training programs for Volvo Penta dealer technicians, OEM partners, and customers located in North, Central, and South America. He has worked with Volvo Penta since 2004, and has supervised the training of 9,000 students to date—more than doubling student participation over the past five years.
“Product training is key and as the technology changes, training is even more necessary. The products get more complex and as that development continues training support is needed,” Gedda mentions. “The challenge for a marine tech walking down to the marina is the broad range of products out there.”
“[I] take the opportunity when things go less well during an activity, solve it in the group and use it as a learning experience,” Gedda says. “When students look at me to sort an issue I usually give them the manual and I stand behind them and try not to interfere too much, then we sum-up afterwards and make conclusions.”
His collaborative approach means Gedda not only relates well with students, but also supports their experience to connect with one another. “When you meet with a new class you have to be humble over the fact that there is a lot of knowledge in the room,” he says. “The best classes are when students share their experiences with me and each other.”
Referring to Gedda’s approach to training and the online experience, Kelleher states, “[Boating] is a pastime and hobby. There is a reasonable expectation that a tech will be knowledgeable and fix a boat in time or [customers] will sell the boat and get out of boating—especially all the people new to boating in the last year or so. It’s hard to get them back.”
In 2021, 87% of the Volvo Penta trainings were online, thanks to Gedda’s ability to embrace the need to bring his program online. “We knew this would become a permanent addition to our training.”
Anthony Margiotta, College of the Florida Keys
Nominated by Jack Seubert, the dean of Marine Science and Technology at The College of the Florida Keys (CFK), Professor Anthony Margiotta has been teaching marine engineering, seamanship, and welding courses at since 2003.
“I nominated Anthony because he is a standout instructor,” Seubert says. “He goes out of his way to help his student find success in the classroom and in the lab. Anthony is thoughtful in how he prepares his lessons and constantly updates his lesson plans based on student performance and changes in the industry.”
According to Seubert, Margiotta provides engaging and interactive discussions with his students in the classroom. An ABYC Master Technician, Margiotta offers labs that include hands-on, skills-oriented learning activities that provide students with essential experience and the capability to earn relevant industry certifications.
A former United States Coast Guard (USCG) lead navigator and master helmsman, Margiotta includes real-life examples for his students and creates learning situations based on his nine years of experience in the field. “Anthony’s students provide me with unsolicited feedback on how much they enjoy his classes and the impacts that he makes on them,” Seubert adds. “His students praise his instruction effectiveness, student-centric philosophy and positive and ongoing rapport.”
When the college went to fully online instruction due to COVID restrictions, Margiotta adapted quickly. To ensure that students could meet established learning outcomes, he developed a directed study course while the students continued to learn through remote instruction. Since fall 2020, his courses have been a hybrid model where he has needed to create both online and in-person lessons and modify lab activities.
“The maritime workforce is in need of highly skilled and competent marine technicians,” Seubert states. “During their academic program, students are provided the opportunity to attain industry certifications. Upon graduation, students are workforce-ready marine technicians with skills, techniques, and certifications in their resume.”
As co-recipients of the 2021 ABYC Foundation Educator of the Year, Gedda and Margiotta received a free ABYC professional-level certification class and free registration to the ABYC Foundation’s next Educator Training Conference. For more information, visit www.teachboats.org.