San Jacinto College’s new Maritime Education Center is officially under construction. The College held an official groundbreaking ceremony in December, and the concrete and pilings are poured.

According to Sarah Janes, Vice President of Continuing and Specialist Development at the College, “The maritime sector is somewhat hidden, a sleeping giant in Houston. By creating the new training facility, it has created a lot of curiosity about the industry. The quantity of students in our maritime degree system has doubled in the last year.”

Dr. Janes said that they anticipate hosting classes in the new building starting in January 2016.

The new facility

The College is responding to business advisers who conveyed that there is a crucial need to attract new mariners and to offer USCG-approved certifications at a regional location. The College initiated the maritime plan in 2010; however, the student population was limited by regulations concerning the number of students per square foot allowed by the Coast Guard. The College addressed this challenge by purchasing waterfront acreage using the 2008 bond referendum, with plans to develop the 45,000-square-foot property into a new, maritime education facility.

According to Dr. Janes, “Water transportation employment in the Gulf Coast is anticipated to enhance almost 22 percent in next six years. Also think about that half the current maritime workers are approaching retirement. With this new facility, we will be in a position to have a total of extra than 90 students at any one particular time. We already have the potential to teach more than 90 U.S. Coast Guard-approved courses.”

Industry support

Supporting the Maritime Education Center, Houston Pilots purchased a $1.3 million simulator system with a pilot’s bridge and two smaller tugboat bridges to be housed in the facility and leased to the College. Other organizations in the industry have also been supportive.

Expressed Dr. Janes, “We did not just survey the market about what they wanted – we brought them into the incredibly first meeting about developing the center. It’s the synergy with industry partners that has helped us create a state-of-art-facility to train mariners appropriately.”

The new facility will have flexible-use classrooms as well as conference space. The first level will be devoted to future expansion, like adding a swimming pool for inwater coaching specifications. The facility will have a lifeboat dock and functioning davit, and will also add a decommissioned fire boat to their educational fleet.

The importance of hands-on training is a primary consideration, says Dr. Janes. “We know we will be obtaining a lot more students because of new U.S. Coast Guard regulations that demand retraining extra typically and that also adjust some of the coursework needs. One particular of the specifications is to include things like hands-on training and assessments with crews on vessels, not just classroom work. When we get the facility open, we anticipate an enhance of no significantly less than 50 percent in the quantity of students and courses we will be serving and it may perhaps possibly double.”