WESTPORT, Wash. – The Marine Partnership, a career-building collaborative effort between Westport Shipyard, the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council and several Washington state school districts, plans to expand its “Float Your Boat” educational summer camp across the state.
Float Your Boat Summer Camp is a four-day intensive boatbuilding program. The Marine Partnership held a pilot program this June in Westport, Wash., and decided to expand the program based on the success of that gathering.
Through a training DVD developed during the pilot program, the Marine Partnership will soon offer the Float Your Boat program to interested schools throughout Washington state.
Float Your Boat will first be distributed to high schools in Grays Harbor County and Clallam County, both of which are home to Westport Shipyard’s manufacturing facilities. Port Angeles’s Peninsula High School is already planning its Float Your Boat Summer Camp for 2007, and several other schools across the state have expressed interest in the camp program as a means of bringing the trades back into the high schools.
The Marine Partnership is also currently planning next year’s Float Your Boat event in Westport, which they hope to expand to five days. Further expansion of the program would allow students to additionally perform composite layup of the hull as well as a completed superstructure for a complete model vessel.
Float Your Boat teaches students about the practical applications of boat construction, providing them with fundamentals in boatbuilding and mathematics as well as the basic experience and training needed for entry-level employment in marine manufacturing.
This summer, 15 students from two local high schools attended the pilot summer camp at Ocosta High School in Westport. They were divided into five teams of three, each of which was provided with a 1/24th scale model of the hull of a Westport 98-foot yacht. Each student team consisted of one designer and two construction team members. Students switched positions every day, giving each the opportunity to share duties and responsibilities.
Using the yacht model, students learned how to level the hull, establish the hull centerline and station lines, layout and place the bulkheads, and install the deck.
Students also toured Westport Shipyard, where they learned about composites and equipment safety while viewing boats in various stages of construction.
At the end of the camp, each student received a Certificate of Completion. Seven top performing students received a Certificate of Interview, granting them an interview with Westport Shipyard.
“Float Your Boat is a great way to generate excitement about career opportunities in boatbuilding,” says Bob Brown, Westport’s manager of workforce development and training. “Several of this year’s ‘campers’ showed great aptitude for marine manufacturing. When they realized the practical applications of what we were teaching, you could see their faces light up. These are exactly the kind of students that we’d be happy to interview for potential careers at Westport Shipyard.”
In addition to its collaborative efforts with the Marine Partnership, Westport partners with Grays Harbor College, Centralia College, Peninsula College and the PMWDC to offer innovative educational programs to attract and educate the skilled workers it needs to sustain the company’s growth.
These educational programs include composites courses (fiberglass work) at Peninsula College, marine and finish carpentry courses at Grays Harbor College, and an electronics technology program at Centralia College that is also being offered at Grays Harbor College.
Additional courses are being developed at all three colleges, and Westport plans to continue offering its educational benefits, along with tuition reimbursement, to all employees who qualify.
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