CAL maritime cadets advocate for a maritime career

California Maritime Academy (CMA) cadets argued in favor of a maritime education and career and emphasized the need for discipline, wearing uniforms and proper appearance.

Their presentations were made at a Propeller Club of Northern California webinar which took place on April 23rd and come at a time when colleges and maritime schools are struggling with declining enrollments. CMA itself has also faced negative publicity from Los Angeles Times reports of sexual harassment on campus.

Freshman cadet Cate Andersson defended CMA: “I want to speak about female representation on campus … I applied at the time when the LA Times articles came out about the campus and some of the issues that CMA was having … Since then, in my time and experience, I haven't faced any of those problems. And to my knowledge, we haven't had any major incidents on campus this year. I am proud to be a female at Cal Maritime and to be entering the maritime industry as a woman. Furthermore, with uniforms … on the very first day when they're issuing them … it doesn't matter really who you are because you're in the exact same outfit as the people next to you. And I just thought that was … incredibly powerful and important.”

Cate Andersson

Challenges for Maritime Academies

Ryan Edmister, President of the CMA Propeller Club acknowledged issues facing the California State University, Maritime Academy: “Our academy is struggling, and I realize that many of the academies, particularly the state schools, are in a similar boat … due to the crisis in higher ed … Cal Maritime especially is in the midst of severe budget decline, enrollment issues and many cultural issues that are propagating here across our campus. With our new president, Admiral Dumont, there have been many fantastic changes and new initiatives … on campus to improve this state of affairs. And I'm very proud that our new incoming class of freshman cadets will be over 230, which is amazing.”

Andersson said a new initiative at CMA to allow cadets, not seeking deck and engine room licenses, to opt out of the Corps of Cadets training was an added problem: “Doing things that seem so drastic, like the changes in the Corps of Cadets Opt-in program it's just going to be very interesting to see what Cal Maritime looks like in the Fall.”

Edmister agreed: “I fully believe in the Corps of Cadets as a regimental program for everyone who's an undergraduate student at Cal Maritime. Irrespective of if you're going … to a ship or not, you will … in your career have to know how to lead and how to manage people … Having that fundamental basis of discipline in wearing a uniform in shaving and keeping yourself clean is absolutely vital.

Bridge Simulator

Andrew Bowling who provides tech support for the Cal Maritime Bridge Simulator explained the value of the simulator training deck officers in vessel handling and referenced a demonstration replicating the Francis Scott Key Baltimore Bridge collision reported on by USA Today: “So what we saw for USA Today … is we just load a scenario, we put the students in … play, we have somebody take the role of the captain and the various officers do the right radio calls to vessel traffic support. We have all the necessary facets to either … create a facsimile through a little bit of smoke and magic or do it within the software itself. If you're trying to do a specific procedure like you're trying to … come into a harbor or come out of a harbor, our sim is a 360-degree wraparound cylinder … You don't see the outside world. Your world is now the sim.”

Neil Staud recalled how CMA cadets successfully competed in a logistics management competition. He also discussed the future of AI on management operations: “I'm in the business program here at Cal Maritime … But if I'm competing against other managers who are familiar with AI … I think that everyone needs to have some baseline knowledge moving forward on how AI works because we're already seeing … changes.”

The Future of Cyber Security

Another presenter was Brandon Jose, Systems Administrator Cyber Security Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, and a recent CMA graduate. He urged cadets looking for a career to consider cyber security: “I would say that a lot of ports are affected by cyber-attacks. Everyday millions of dollars are being lost, and we need to be able to defend ourselves even better. So, we (need to) gear up to explore the reasons why cybersecurity is the hottest career choice in our digital age. People … who are in the industry (should help) students and create opportunities for them.”

Dennis Deisinger, maritime consultant and a 1985 CMA graduate, said: “I tell all the cadets who have a license that … don't have a job, but are … wondering if going to sea is what they want to do … the MSC (Military Sealift Command) is a great opportunity.”

Veronica Barry, External Affairs, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York agreed with Deisinger and urged cadets to consider a career in the Military Sealift Command: “The Military Sealift Command came up recently, and they are getting pressure from the rest of the industry to have … more of a work/life balance. So, you're not going to be at sea for 8 months anymore. They are authorized to hire 700 licensed officers right now, and that means shorter rotations for everybody. Just like the rest of the industry deep sea … The Military Sealift Command is doing their best to do the same…”

Industry Responses To CMA Presentations

Noapose Fotu, Senior Surveyor, National Cargo Bureau, praised cadet presenters: “First of all … I really enjoyed this presentation … all … the cadets speak very clearly. It seemed to me like they got their stuff together and they … studied and they're well prepared … So … keep it up.”

Andrew Hwang, Director of Transpacific Export and Government Affairs, Wan Hai Lines agreed: “That is the cool thing about the California Maritime Academy. They teach leadership, responsibility and respect. And when somebody sees that on your resume… They know your leadership, responsibility, respect, and they can count on you to do what they want you to do in the right way.”

Emily Sinclair, Corporate Communications, the Pasha Group added: “I can definitely echo … about the leadership and the professionalism that we see with Cal Maritime cadets … it is wonderful. And when we look at resumes and people coming in and looking at jobs coming from Cal Maritime …the professionalism and intellect is really high … So, we love hiring Cal Maritime cadets.”

Matthew LaFiandra, Chief Executive Officer, Ocean Solutions, LLC added: “There is no class that teaches you how to be a financial products broker or a commodity broker. It's a job that is learned on premise through mentorship and training by our employees and managers. What we look for in the people we hire are strong senses of personal discipline because being successful in our industry … requires people who … do not need their hand held on how to be … a productive employee, how to be a disciplined adult, et cetera … What we're really looking for is the discipline that comes from a lot of the maritime academy-based education.”

Nick Marrone, Vice President Seafarer’s International Union said: “To the Cal Maritime presenters you … did a wonderful job. You're very clear, you're very confident and you're very honest. I … would like to just chime in a little bit about the requirement of regimentation. When you go to the schools, all the maritime schools require this. If you can't get along with your people on a 60-acre facility, you're not going to get along when you are on board a 900-foot vessel that's a hundred feet wide, and you got a 10 by 10 room that you're living in, and you're bumping into everybody every day in confined quarters. So, a lot of that has to be presented to you early on … But on board the ship, it is a very confined environment. There is a hierarchy on board the ship. There's a hierarchy in companies with presidents and vice presidents and assistant VPs and heads of departments. And there has to be some understanding, … appreciation and respect for those people in those positions. More importantly, I … think it's … good for all of us to go through this process of regimentation and requirements that you're not used to. It … does help you grow, and it does help you mature at a very fast rate. It also helps you to be a good people reader when you are in these confined environments.”

Joel Whitehead, Executive Vice President, International Propeller Club complimented the cadets “for their very fine presentations.” He said the International Propeller Club has produced several career webinars for college and maritime school graduates and would continue to do so.

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis


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