New Marine Programs Set Sail

Posted on May 1, 2011 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Beginning this summer, New North residents interested in a shipbuilding career will be able to sign up for two new education programs at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College.

NWTC’s new marine construction technical diploma and marine engineering associate degree programs will train employees for the region’s growing shipbuilding industry. Marinette Marine has a multi-billion contract to build up to 10 littoral combat ships for the U.S. Navy while Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay is beginning work on two new platform supply vessels – the first to be built on the Great Lakes – for New Orleans-based Tidewater Marine.

The programs at NWTC are just the latest efforts by the North Coast Maritime Manufacturing Alliance, a collaboration of seven New North marine manufacturers – ACE Marine LLC, Bay Shipbuilding Corporation, Burger Boat Company, Cruiser Yachts, Marinette Marine Corporation, Marquis Yachts and Palmer Johnson – and three colleges, including NWTC, Lakeshore Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Marinette.

“We kept hearing from the marine industry they were seeking individuals with marine related skill sets,” says Ann Franz, NWTC’s strategic partnerships manager. “With all the great news we’re hearing from Marinette Marine and other companies, it was apparent the marine manufacturing industry wasn’t going away and we needed to make sure we had people here with the right skill sets to fill those open jobs.”

Last summer, NWTC began planning the curriculum for its two new programs, says Bob Egger, a former Navy officer who is working with the college to develop the coursework for the new programs.
“We’re using feedback from the industry about the skills an entry worker would need to have,” he says.

The marine construction technical diploma is a one-year, three-semester program, which starts next month in Green Bay and in August at the Marinette campus. The marine engineering technology associate degree is a two-year program and classes begin in August at both the Marinette and Green Bay campuses.

“We were able to turn this program around quickly and that’s a testament to how NWTC responds to industries across the region,” Franz says.

Throughout the spring, NWTC held information sessions for both of its new programs, which will be offered in Marinette and Green Bay.

Marine construction differs from regular construction because of the vessel’s size, the thickness of steel and the sometimes close confinements workers find themselves in, Egger says.
“We’ll mesh traditional construction skills with the knowledge workers need to know when working on one of these vessels,” Egger says.

The new NWTC programs are just a part of the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance.
“We needed to work on other things besides job training, such as improving the supply chain and improving the industry’s image among potential workers,” Franz says.