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Floating university offers recession-proof jobs

[ 2012-06-28 17:20]     字号 [] [] []  
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Many new college graduates are having a hard time finding work because of the weak economy. But that's not a problem for students from The California Maritime Academy, the only school of its kind on the US west coast. This is one of the cities the school's floating classroom visited during a two-month international training cruise.

Deep in the heart of the ship named Golden Bear, it is hot and the engines are noisy. This is where Vasile Tudoran spends much of his time, doing what he loves.

"I knew I wanted to fix stuff since I was a little kid," said Tudoran.

Tudoran is a mechanical engineering student at The California Maritime Academy. Even though the university is located just outside of San Francisco, most of the students are required to get hands-on experience on board of this training vessel. On this two-month trip, 288 cadets travel more than 15,000 kilometers south to the Panama Canal, and visit countries in Central America and the Caribbean.

"When we get out of school, you are basically guaranteed a job."

Robert Jackson is one of Tudoran's teachers.

"I would say the majority of our students have between one to two job offers before they graduate," said Jackson. "Most of those job offers are between $60,000 and $120,000 [a year]. Our students have such a broad knowledge they can go anywhere.

Jackson says in addition to working on ships, engineering students also get jobs with power plants and satellite companies. Away from the ship's engines, students majoring in marine transportation learn how to run a ship. Faculty member Bill Schmid says in the past, marine transportation graduates would have several job offers.

"With the economic downturn, it's not quite as bright as it was, but it is recovering now. I think probably the vast majority of our graduates are employed in the industry, if they want to be, now," said Schmid.

Even with a 94 percent job-placement rate, the academy only has about 900 students. The reason, says marine transportation student Andrew Di Tucci, is because life at the academy requires discipline.

"The school, it is not like your normal college experience would be," said di Tucci. "We are a paramilitary school. We have uniforms. We have formations. Just disciplining yourself to show up and keep grooming standards and be where you need to be, sit down, buckle your belt and study."

Not only do the students carry heavy responsibilities on the ship, instructor Bill Schmid says the coursework is also rigorous.

"Ship's officers are kind of like your surgeons or your airplane pilot," Schmid explained. "You do not want them to be right only 70 percent of the time. We pretty much have to be right all the time. That is a hard thing to teach young people. There is zero tolerance for mistakes.

But Di Tucci says there are rewards to life at sea.

"My favorite thing about it is waking up every morning and seeing nothing but the ocean on all sides of you. I get a thrill out of that," Di Tucci explained.

Feeling that thrill and eventually getting paid for it is what motivates many of these students to take on such a demanding course of study.

Related stories:

Higher education in US: what does it cost?

Training fishermen to become fish farmers

Studying in the US: Getting a military education

Chinese students in US coming home for jobs

(来源:VOA 编辑:旭燕)