The IYRS Experience: Constant Learning - In So Many Ways

Gardner Howe, Marine Systems

Where does the time go???

Life on the Marine Systems shop floor continues to move forward, and the pace is a bit quicker than I expected.  Since my last post, we’ve taken the ABYC electrical certification exam and moved on to key marine systems: plumbing, thru-hull fittings, tankage, fuel systems and steering.  We’re covering a ton of information, but the combination of classroom lectures and practical, hands-on experience is helping it all sink in.

When we shifted from electrical to marine systems, we also swapped partners and simulators. After all the work of the first 8 weeks, it was hard to make these changes and say good-bye to Second Wind, but I can now see why that’s part of the program.  My first bench mate was an 18-year-old who graduated from high school this past spring; he knew that college wasn’t for him, and he wanted to explore careers the marine industry.  My new bench mate is a 22-year-old who tried the college route, but found it wasn’t for him and wanted to explore other options.  I’ve learned a lot from each of them, from their life experiences and different approaches to tasks / problem-solving.  I think this is a great part of the overall experience here - IYRS students are a diverse group, and we all grow from daily interactions on the shop floor.

Working with my new bench mate to install the potable water system on our new sim: “Ricky Bobby.”

Freshwater system flowing! 

Speaking of growing, I think the IYRS experience has also taught me to slow down a little.  In my prior military life, an “80% plan” aggressively executed ahead of schedule was generally better than a much more refined effort performed late.  Our projects on the shop floor have shown me how much I’ve let my past experience frame my “gotta meet/beat the deadline” approach to day-to-day life. With IYRS’ emphasis on quality and craftsmanship, I can now see the importance of being able to slow down.  It’s been an unexpected but very welcome learning experience.

One more personal growth comment: I continue to enjoy IYRS’ emphasis on developing the “maker” in all of us.  For most of my professional career, I focused on getting things done through the efforts of others.  IYRS has let me rediscover the joy of getting things done with my own hands!  This “maker” culture is another key element of the IYRS experience - and one I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

Last week, we were introduced to the basics of welding.  We had an awesome guest instructor (thanks Nick!) and we’ve already used our new skills to fabricate a T-frame structure for our sim - we’re now mounting our steering systems and fuel oil filters on the frame.

Learning to weld.

Our steel frame  -  ready for our steering system and oil filters.

The IYRS shop floor is a place of constant learning.  From technical skills in the marine industry to personal development, IYRS provides an amazing environment for discovery and growth.  I’m thankful for being part of this great experience.