What is a Naval Architect and Marine Engineer?

Webb Institute Model Tank Testing

A naval architect and marine engineer must be capable of engineering, designing, and problem solving.

Naval architects are engineers that design electrical, mechanical, piping, and structural systems to build ships and other structures for the seas.

Marine engineers ensure that the naval architect’s designs work on the ships/structures.  The marine engineer is in charge of everything inside the engine room and the naval architect is in charge of everything else, including the size and location of the engine room.

The distinction between naval architecture and marine engineering is not clear-cut because the nature of marine vessels requires that all components must work together well.  In designing a building, an architect may rely on utilities to provide electrical, sewage, and water.  But a ship must be completely self-sufficient.  Turning on a faucet involves several systems, including freshwater supply, wastewater disposal, and electricity for pumps and other equipment.  All of these tasks must be provided on a platform that can propel itself safely, comfortably, and efficiently in adverse weather.  In addition, for certain vessels such as yachts, the vessel also has to look good.

What Type of Vessels do Naval Architects Design?

To name a few: cargo ships, high speed sailing and power boats, cruise ships, navy ships, mega yachts, offshore drilling platforms, floating wind turbines, underwater robots, nuclear submarines, and autonomous sailing vessels.

Webb Institute Has a Prescribed Curriculum

All students take the same classes all four years.  The subjects are as follows:

Naval Architecture

  • Hydrostatics, Hull Form and Stability
  • Structural Analysis and Design
  • Hydrodynamics, Maneuvering, and Seakeeping
  • Resistance and Propulsion
  • Design Project

Marine Engineering

  • Diesel Engines, Steam, and Gas Turbines
  • Auxiliary Machinery and Systems

Engineering and Science Core Requirements

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Physics, Chemistry, and Materials Science
  • Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics
  • Engineering Drawing and Computer-Aided Drafting

Mathematics and Computer Science

  • Calculus and Differential Equations
  • Advanced Engineering Mathematics
  • Computer Programming and Applications

These course requirements are in addition to core requirements in the humanities, social sciences, technical writing, and oral communication.

Webb Institute is unique in many respects.  It offers just one undergraduate program, granting a degree in naval architecture and marine engineering that includes not only a capstone design project, but a senior thesis.

Another unique aspect is Webb Institute’s internship program.  Each year during January and February, all students are required to work in the marine industry.  Freshmen work in the production departments of shipyards, sophomores go to sea as cadet/observers, and juniors and seniors intern in design and engineering firms.  Many of our students intern internationally. Other colleges may encourage students to gain professional experience, but this formally structured program is unique to Webb and a requirement for graduation.

Because few schools teach naval architecture and marine engineering, the supply of naval architects and marine engineers is limited.  The placement rate of Webb graduates is 100%.  Due to Webb’s practical approach to education our graduates are in great demand, commanding salaries among the top of all engineering disciplines. If you’d like to visit typical corporations that hire Webb graduates, click here.