Bri Sumner and Will Renault, two MDI High School students who will take the school’s new marine service technology course, work on a boatbuilding project at the school last Friday. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Marine tech course draws industry interest

BAR HARBOR — “I really want a maritime career. I’ve been thinking about it since the eighth grade,” said Will Renault, a junior at Mount Desert Island High School, of his reason for signing up for the school’s new marine service technology course.

Bri Sumner, also a junior, said she has family members who work on or around the ocean.

“That’s a big reason for me wanting to make it a part of my life.”

As for the opportunity to learn more about boats and navigation, she said, “It’s been instilled in me that this is knowledge that’s very important to have.”

The marine service technology course will start next fall as a satellite program of Hancock County Technical Center. Students in all of the high schools in the county may apply. But six of the 14 slots are reserved for students at MDI High, where the course will be taught. Five of those six slots already are filled.

Sailor and boatbuilder Steve Keblinsky will teach the course. It will cover basic navigation, boat handling, engine maintenance, drive systems, electrical and plumbing systems, marine electronics equipment and marine materials: wood, metal and composites.

Julie Keblinsky, the high school’s dean of curriculum, spearheaded the development of the course.

“We live on an island, and we realized that one of the glaring missing pieces of pre-career training was marine service technology,” she said. “And we have lot of students who are thinking about that as a career pathway.”

She said the new course can help prepare students for several post-high school options: going into the Coast Guard, working for a local boatbuilding company, owning or working on a lobster boat, attending a two-year college such as the Landing School in Arundel for more advanced training or going to Maine Maritime Academy (MMA).

Keblinsky said people in various sectors of the maritime community have expressed enthusiasm for the new program. Lorraine Stanley of Richard Stanley Custom Boats in Bass Harbor has offered to donate boats and materials.

Stanley serves on the volunteer advisory board for the marine service technology course.

“It’s really exciting,” she said at the board’s April 5 meeting. “It has the potential to fill the real gap that exists in the industry.”

Starr Micalizzi of Hinckley Yachts said her company is interested in offering internships and job shadowing opportunities for students.

Others who have offered advice and assistance include Robert Kramp of Kramp Electronics in Seal Cove and Jim Elk of Elk Spar and Boat Shop in Bar Harbor. Advisory board members lending a hand include Rebecca Carroll of Maine Coast Engineering in Southwest Harbor; Toby Stephenson, captain of Osprey, the College of the Atlantic vessel; Jim McKenna of MMA; and Jim Guerette of the U.S. Coast Guard in Southwest Harbor.

These and others are interested in the marine service technology course, Keblinsky said, because “they know there is need for kids who are skilled in this area because they can’t fill the jobs.”

Renault, one of the MDI High students who will be taking the course next fall, said he is interested in working in marine transportation, perhaps on tugboats. So, he would like to attend MMA for its “vessels operations and transportation” program.

“That’s running boats and learning how to maintain them,” said Renault, who lives in Mount Desert. “With this [high school] course, I can get a foundation in both of those. It will be a big foot in the door for me.”

Sumner, who lives on Great Cranberry Island, said she hasn’t decided whether she wants to go into nursing or to MMA after high school. Regardless of which she chooses, she sees the marine service technology course as a good learning opportunity.

“It’s something I can use throughout my life.”

Students who successfully complete the course and pass an exam will qualify for certification by the American Boat & Yacht Council.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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