All good things must come to an end . . . or do they?

The package arrived in the mail yesterday - another envelope from ABYC and I’m now a certified Diesel Engine Advisor.  The certification marks the fourth marine industry certification that we’ve earned over the course of the IYRS Marine Systems program; the others included ABYC Marine Electrical Advisor, ABYC Marine Systems Advisor, and NMEA Basic Marine Electronics Installer.

Our time on the shop floor with diesels had us ready for the test.  The time we spent with the breakdown engines got us comfortable with how all the components and subsystems worked.  We then moved on to the running engines, building our own wiring harnesses and getting the engines hooked up to our simulators’ electrical system, fuel system and engine control panel.  It felt great to see the engine come alive using the systems we built into the simulators!  We went on to analyze the engines, fix any issues that surfaced, and practice routine maintenance services.

Beginning the breakdown of a Westerbeke marine diesel.  Among other tasks, our work with the breakdown engines included lapping valves, adjusting valve clearances, honing cylinders, and testing fuel injectors.

Our marine diesel “Cammie” all hooked up to the simulator and prepped to run.  Operating the engine from the simulator pulled together all we’ve learned over the course of the program.

The ABYC certification exam wasn’t easy - 180 questions in three hours!  While it’s an open book test, many of the questions don’t have simple “look-up” answers.  Without a good understanding of how the marine diesel subsystems work together, you won’t do well on the test.  Our five weeks with the diesels had us well prepared!  

After the exam we spent a couple weeks with outboard motors and are now getting the shop cleaned up / prepped for the next class of students.  After that, we’re off for our four-week externships, an integral part of the IYRS experience.  I’m going to spend mine as a marine systems technician onboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry.  While Rhode Island’s flagship is a traditionally rigged “tall ship” topsides, she is a completely modern vessel below decks and I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned at IYRS to help keep this ship and its important programs moving forward. 

I have to admit, it’s bumming me out that we’re breaking down our simulators as part of the shop clean up efforts.  The sims are a physical reminder of all we’ve learned and done over the past five months, and its hard to see them reduced back to bins of individual parts and piles of wood/aluminum.  I guess all good things must come to an end . . . or do they?  While time on the IYRS campus is finite, I know the impact of the IYRS experience will be with me for the rest of my life.  I’m taking away new knowledge, practical skills, industry certifications, and a network of great professional contacts (i.e., our classmates and instructors!).  While my personal voyage ahead remains somewhat uncharted, I’m so grateful that I have the IYRS experience to help me navigate.