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Developing future engineers
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013 11:50 PM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 70


Engineers are much more than handy mechanics, they have knowhow;  

  •  Ability – knowhow to apply natural abilities
  •  Aptitude – knowhow to use innate thought processes
  •  Dexterity – knowhow to operate machinery and use tools skillfully
  •  Education – knowhow to understand and explain engineering principals
  •  Experience – knowhow to make difficult tasks look easy
  •  Training – knowhow taught and learnt on the job and in the classroom
  •  Persistence – knowhow to learn on the go and make things happen in all circumstances

 Developing tomorrow’s engineers is critical, as is discovering ways to retain senior engineers.  

Engineers take time to develop and seeing top engineers leave the industry because the cycle of life takes them back ashore is a travesty.

New starters can and do make errors, minimizing workplace errors is a function of management. If an assistant engineer makes a blunder it’s a learning experience for all involved.

 Excess praise is rather negative, as is no praise.  

Praise should always be reserved for consistent performance and improvement on the job.

 Professionals get it right every time and that takes skill.  

Imagine working with an engineer that got things right 75% of the time, that being said good engineers deserve a good amount of respect and we need to make hundreds more of them in the next few years, so next time your working alongside an engineer consider how nice it is to have hot water, lights, HVAC and safety systems working correctly when your miles out to sea.

 The hardest lessons are usually the ones which occur only once.  

Experienced engineers talk about past errors because it makes them laugh, whereas green engineers talk about what they got right in either case it is all about positive feedback that teaches hidden lessons.

 The chief is accountable for all jobs and everyone is responsible for their actions in the engine room.  

Chiefs that are not interested in developing crew tend to blame people without first considering their training and supervisory responsibilities. Striving for perfection and continuously improving how people are instructed, supervised and supported is not a choice it’s what management level crew get paid for.

 Training - The role of the Chief; 

  1.  Measure – knowledge, skill, experience and define training objectives for crew
  2.  Lead – set, maintain and continuously improve workplace standards and safety
  3.  Organize – information, material resources, problems and people
  4.  Value – positive feedback, workplace achievements and improved team performance
  5.  Enable – provide direction, support and opportunities for individuals to earn their stripes
  6.  Share – information, success and learn from failure
  7.  Review – standardize a review worksheet and make an honest assesement of yourself and the assistant engineers. Focusing final achievements, communication, morale and accept positive feedback while also providing positive feedback. People respond positively to structured reviews when accountability is mutual
  8.  Manage – record, retain and retrieve information pertinent to staff development

Training  - The role of the assistant engineer; 

  1.  Locate – machinery systems, information and material resources
  2.  Understand – information, learn operation principals of machinery systems
  3.  Maintain – use information, tooling, materials and skill to maintain machinery
  4.  Operate – use knowledge, skill and to correctly operate machinery
  5.  Diagnose – apply knowledge, experience and engineering skills to troubleshoot problems and define parts lists and corrective actions
  6.  Repair – make corrective actions and complete testing to confirm results
  7.  Manage – organize tooling, materials, information, record information, retain information and retrieve information


A truly good manager, mentor and educator enables people to succeed, earn their knowledge and complete tasks with minimal interference. There’s a big difference between demonstrating a skill and pushing people aside because you don’t trust them to do a specific task.


How long a person takes to do a job is less important than how well the do the job.


Practice makes perfect and well ran engine rooms have very specific routines and procedures that people eventually master and will take less time to do.