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Engine practical training department prepares students for real life situations 

By Katie Hansche, ‘18

Since Echo Company’s inclusion in the Texas Maritime Academy in 2005, engineering cadets have endeavored to create a more focused learning environment for themselves. The newly formed practical training department for both deck and engine students has facilitated the growth of that learning environment for cadets in a more hands-on and personal way.

 Cadet Chief Blake Clodfelter, Cadet 1st Assistant Engineer Gerald “Rusty” Anglin, Cadet 2nd Assistant Engineer Anthony Gange, and Cadet 3rd Assistant Engineer Paul Murphy work together to organize weekly practical training sessions for the engineering freshman cadets.

The Engine Practical Training Department has instructed on a variety of topics including purifying, steam, and HVAC systems, as well as knowledge on pumps and valves. All of these topics will be relevant in the engineering industry. Cadet 3rd Assistant Engineer Paul Murphy said that the department focuses on “teaching the freshmen basic knowledge of a ship’s systems and the career field that they will be going into,” while also “preparing them for their freshman cruise so they will have a better understanding of what they learn on the ship, so that they can retain as much as possible.”

The Engine Practical Training staff all takes part in the development of the weekly program. Each of the staff takes a portion of the freshmen and teaches them a topic of their choosing. This way, the freshmen have a more personalized experience when taught the material for that week. The staff rotate the group they teach weekly so everyone can be familiar with each of the staff member’s information. The staff hopes to focus on topics upper-class engineers find essential for freshman and commercial cruises

All of the information taught during the practical training sessions is useful in the industry. Murphy, Cadet 3rd Assistant Engineer, stressed the importance of understanding these topics in practical training.

“Practical training is necessary because it shows the freshman things they are taught in a classroom have a real life application. We present the knowledge that they may never learn until they are put in a situation where they’ll have to learn it on the spot,” Murphy said.

He also emphasized the importance of building on previously taught information due to the nature of the industry. Ship systems are interconnected, and that interconnectedness keeps the ship running.

Having this information presented to them as freshmen is a beneficial supplement to their system-specific coursework. The Engine Practical Training Department’s hope is during this first year the staff is able to create a solid informational foundation, so that the cadets may be able to build and grow. These skills could potentially help the cadets better diagnose and identify potential issues to save lives.