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Marine engineering includes the engineering of boats, ships, oil rigs and any other marine vessel or structure, as well as oceanographic engineering. Specifically, marine engineering is the discipline of applying engineering sciences, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, and computer science, to the development, design, operation and maintenance of watercraft propulsion and on-board systems and oceanographic technology. It includes but is not limited to power and propulsion plants, machinery, piping, automation and control systems for marine vehicles of any kind, such as surface ships and submarines.
Archimedes is traditionally regarded as the first marine engineer, having developed a number of marine engineering systems in antiquity. Modern marine engineering dates back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (early 1700s). In 1712 Thomas Newcomen, a blacksmith, created a steam powered engine to pump water out of mines. In 1807 Robert Fulton successfully used a steam engine to propel a vessel through the water. Fulton's ship used the engine to power a small wooden paddle wheel as its propulsion system. The integration of steam engines into ships was the start of the marine engineering profession.
Paddle wheel ships were the front runner of the industry for the next thirty years till the next type of propulsion came around. Only twelve years after Fulton’s Clermont had her first voyage, the Savannah marked the first sea voyage from America to Europe. Around 50 years later the steam powered paddle wheels had a peak with the creation of the Great Eastern, which was as big as one of the cargo ships of today, 700 feet in length, weighing 22,000 tons. The Great Eastern was said to be ahead of its time and was destined for failure. Since the 1800s there have been many improvements to the design of engines and propellers. The maritime industry holds 90% of all international trade.
Marine engineers work on more than just engines in ships. Marine engineers are also responsible for building and maintaining offshore oil rigs. These oil rigs were first made by Henry L. Williams in 1896.
Marine engineering specialtiesEdit
Naval architects are concerned with the overall design of the ship and its propulsion through the water.
Mechanical engineers design the main propulsion plant, the powering and mechanization aspects of the ship functions such as steering, anchoring, cargo handling, heating, ventilation, air conditioning interior and exterior communication, and other related requirements. Electrical power generation and electrical power distribution systems are typically designed by their suppliers; only installation is the design responsibility of the marine engineer.
Oceanographic engineering is concerned with mechanical, electrical, and electronic, and computing technology deployed to support oceanography, and also falls under the umbrella of marine engineering, especially in Britain, where it is covered by the same professional organisation, the IMarEST.
Civil engineering for an offshore environment, the design and construction of fixed and floating marine structures, such as oil platforms and offshore wind farms is generally called offshore engineering.
Challenges specific to marine engineeringEdit
In the same way that civil engineers design to accommodate wind loads on building and bridges, maritime engineers design to accommodate a ship being flexed or a platform being struck by waves millions of times in its life.
A naval architect, like an airplane designer, is concerned with stability. The naval architect's job is different, insofar as a ship operates in two fluids simultaneously: water and air.
The chemical environment faced by ships and offshore structures is far harsher than most anywhere on land, save chemical plants. Marine engineers are concerned with surface protection and preventing galvanic corrosion in every project.
In 2012, the average annual earnings for marine engineers in the U.S. were $96,140 with average hourly earnings of $46.22.
Maritime universities are dedicated to teaching and training students in maritime professions. Marine engineers generally have a bachelor's degree in marine engineering, marine engineering technology, or marine systems engineering. Practical training is valued by employers alongside the bachelor's degree.
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- Bruce A. Wells, (2003) Offshore Petroleum History, American Oil and Gas Historical Society. Retrieved 4/10/14 http://aoghs.org/offshore-exploration/offshore-oil-history/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (January 8, 2014) Marine Engineers and Naval Architects, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved April 2, 2014 http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/marine-engineers-and-naval-architects.htm
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