Shopper Program/MOAT

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by marinermom, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. marinermom

    marinermom Member

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    Plebes are having to choose their majors by tomorrow. Can any of you out their with real experience give your two cents on the Shopper Program/Maritime Operations and Technology and your opinion on future job prospects, specifically shoreside, post-grad?
     
  2. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    As a graduate of the program, and a pretty outspoken supporter of it, here is my $.02.

    The hands on aspect and engineering knowledge learned in the program makes going to sea much easier, either as a cadet, mate, captain, sailor, fisherman, or waterskier. There is much more engineering work for mates today than in the past, and your relationship with the engineering department changes greatly if you have the basic knowledge of engineering systems, as opposed to being "another dumb mate."

    What I tell plebes who ask me about it is- whether or not you plan to have a seagoing career, you will probably at some point own a car, a house, a boat, or something (or many things) with a switch, a plug, a pipe, a valve, or an engine, and having the basic skills for systems diagnosis, tool use, welding, etc. will come in handy all through life. I always say that the most practical and useful class, the skills of which I use everyday, was the electric circuits class I took as a shopper.
     
  3. MMAdad2015

    MMAdad2015 Member

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    My DS was planning on Maritime Operations and Technology as a major, but he was told it is no longer available. This has turned out to be a blessing as he really is not into the engineering part. He thanks KP100 1st part.
     
  4. marinermom

    marinermom Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies. So Deepsea would you say that if someone can handle the load for Engineerinng they should choose that first for more job options later one? And that MOAT is the best choice for those choosing Deck? I read about the MOAT major on the USMMA website and the courseload seems high too - everyone has told my DS that if he can handle engine that's what he should do as long as he's good in Physics and Math. But if you look at the courses, they only take Physics 1 and 2, so what "load" is so much different for Engine that makes it such a harder program? I was a Firefighter for 15 years and I totally agree with all the practical aspects of taking the engineering classes and applying them to practical life you spoke of. Thanks for the help - I really appreciate it.
     
  5. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    If you want to be an engineer- go engine
    If you want to be a Deckie ashore / business type- go straight deck or logistics
    If you want to be a Mariner go Shopper.
     
  6. kpmid2013

    kpmid2013 New Member

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    I was under the impression that they phased that program out. From what I heard 2013 was the last class that could take the Shopper program and get their QMED, 2014 could take the Shopper program but not get their QMED, and it wasn't going to be offered past that.
     
  7. Ddcga

    Ddcga Member

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    I would REALLY love information on this. My DS does not seem to know if this is an option or not. Apparently it is written as an option on some paperwork but he cannot recall anybody at KP talking about it. I, for one, am extremely frustrated with this whole process. My DS was one who entered KP a bit unsure about his choice of major. He was told that after taking KP100 he should have a very clear picture of which choice is best for him. Now, after taking only the deck side of KP100 (and only a couple of engine classes) he is expected to make the choice and sign on the dotted line. His mentor has been little or no help basically telling his students that you are absolutely "crazy" to do anything but engine while the other powers-that-be have scared the living daylights out of him about failing a difficult engineering class and getting sent home. So, his 18 year old mind has concluded that 1.) He pretty much liked the deck side of KP100 2.) He doesn't know much about the engine side yet because he hasn't taken it 3.) Deck will offer him the chance of a better GPA and he won't have to face possible disenrollment 4.) He has no information on this "shopper" major SO....... deck is his choice. It sure seems like an ineffective way to steer a young adult towards a major and a career. There's only so much help I can offer with such distance and limited information and he swears he has tapped every resource he can for information including upperclassmen, other teachers, and his "mentor". Frustrated.:confused::mad:
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  8. KPaviator

    KPaviator Member

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    I couldn't have said it better. Being a shopper will give you an overall better picture when it comes to day to day operations and maintenance, and will give you a good appreciation as to what goes on in the engine room. As for still having the shopper program, I have no idea. I remember hearing that they were going to do away with it down the road, but that was a few years ago. Your son probably read about it in the course catalog, which I don't think has been updated since 2003. I was happy with my choice to go the shopper route, but if I was to do it again I'd go engine in a heart beat. I was engine up until 3rd tri, but switched because I got a little nervous about the course load. Then I saw some of the people that graduated with me and realized if they could do it, then I for sure could. It's definitely more work, but I think it's worth it in the end. It's a lot easier applying the marine engineering curriculum to countless job's shoreside (design engineer, mechanical, working at power plants, shipyards, etc) whereas the deck side is very limited. Yeah, you take business classes, but it's honestly not that many or in depth.
     
  9. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    It can and is indeed frustrating, especially for the midshipmen. I personally don't know the status of wether or not "Shopper" is or is not available to midshipmen in the class of 2015. The online catalog still says 6 majors are available but only lists 5 (five) of them. I was looking just the other day when a prospective candidate was asking about choices of majors while trying to consider that in their decision to pursue an appointment or not.

    This lack of clear, consistent, and correct information relative to the Marine Operations and Technology Major aka Shopper is unfortunately NOT a new issue. My DS is 2012 and is a "shopper" - these sorts of partial and disinformation were no different then than now. When he was thinking about it (major selection), he and several and his class were told, I don't know how or by whom, that if they started "Shopper" they might or might not be able to take their QMED. Further over the 3+ years as he's tried to find out from the USCG what he would have to do, if he wanted to upgrade from QMED and take a Third A/E License (how many days he'd have to sail as QMED) the answer has changed. For reasons along the lines of deepsea's advice he decided he didn't care wether or not he'd be able to get the QMED or not and still chose "Shopper" - for him, he still says, now hopefully just 9 months from graduation, it was the right choice.

    Keeping in mind that the requirements to take and get the QMED (Qualified Member of the Engine Department - highest unlicensed rating in that department) and both the Third mate and Third A/E are not set by Kings Point but rather by the USCG in accord with IMO (International Maritime Organization) Treaty and Rules, and apparently there has been some sort of review and debate about such things over the past couple of years AND it takes forever to get the minimum 33 required nations to change or implement and IMO rule/treaty change; this whole licensure question might be understandable and overlooked. HOWEVER why the Academy, especially the Dean and the two responsible Academic Departments cannot provide timely, consistent information to the student body relative to what, at least in my own son's view, has been an excellent choice to take as a major - for all the reasons deepsea cites above - and has not been able to do so for over four years - is beyond comprehension to me.

    Additionally on this subject I also offer:

    As far as being afraid of the Engineering curricula and letting that or the usual wive's tales and fear mongering as to what major any midshipmen should or should not take ... like deepsea I offer the following points, experiences, and beliefs, consistently:

    1) Looking back "over the transom" at the career choices and experiences of myself and my own classmates now 28 1/2 years out of KP: without a doubt at least 90% of the 254 graduates of our class has and continues to have successful careers and most if not all of us have continued to have great opportunities, regardless of whether we graduated "deck, engine or dual" (back in "our day" because the license requirements were different we had "dualies" instead of "shoppers").

    2) Unless a midshipman is already struggling in the so called "plebe killers": Calculus and/or Physics; if they had reasonable aptitude (e.g. SAT scores, etc.) and grades in math and science in high school; if they want to "go engine" I wouldn't let the "be careful or you'll fail out" chant drive them away from majoring in engine. If they "enjoy" or want to be an engineer, sure if the math "scares them" maybe I would opt away from Marine Engineering Systems and take straight Marine Engineering but I wouldn't go for a deck major if that's not something I wanted to do. (I was deck).

    3) Conversely, if I was interested in being a "deckie" I wouldn't let the thought about what post sailing career choices I might or might not have with my USMMA BS degree drive me to "go engine". If I look at those 15-20% of my own and really any KP class I know the details of who go on to become "wildly successful" the distribution among deck,engine, shopper and/or dual seems to me to be pretty much statistically evenly distributed. I think this is because most folks are better at things they enjoy/like and vice versa than things they don't AND to get into AND graduate from USMMA: isn't easy, generally takes folks smarter than the average bear, AND teaches you nothing if not persistence and some degree of intellectual discipline - so even us "stupid deckies" with degrees that only equip us to look out of the windows of ships and not run into other ships somehow usually find our way through life at least "okay". (Pardon the preemptive defensive jab at the likely plethoria of "go engine" or you might starve comments, I envision some might make here.)

    It is indeed unfortunate that the Class of 2015 is being pressed to select majors before the end of the first trimester and before they have ALL taken KP100 completely. It's also a mystery to me how and why Instructors assigned to teach KP100 aren't given some sort of profile "test"/interview by the dean and the information they need about all five or six available majors to make sure they could help the Plebes understand their options completely. Given the changes from year to year in some of these items, this is something that if they go to their Company Academic Midshipmen Officers/Advisors (or whatever is the right term for those folks now) that too may or may not be useful or helpful. That's why I personally, really think this should be the primary purpose for making everyone take KP100 completely first before having midshipmen select majors.

    In closing though, given the frustration is rooted in lack of good information, which I think is at least a fair criticism in this case, I'm not sure any of our answers/comments on this subject will actually help parents or midshipmen in the Class of 2015 when making this current choice - and that is the real crying shame here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  10. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    A couple of things to add and/or respond to Jasperdog's post. I don't know that going on the Engine track (either systems or not) would be any more difficult that going deck. I was not the best student either in High School or KP, but I did manage to survive and graduate in the top half of my class (barely). There were some close ones (Material Science, Computer Science and Electrical Circuit Theory come to mind), yet I was able to get through and toss my hat into the air. As mentioned, one of the strongest factors that kept me going was that I wanted to sail as an engineer and completing the course load was the best way for me to be able to do that.

    I also agree that it seems premature to ask the Plebes to make a determination before they complete the basic courses. In my and Jasperdog's day, we were on the quarter system. For those that originally opted for deck, their first quarter introduction was basic marine engineering. Conversly, for those of us going engine, our first quarter was basic seamanship and nautical science (you would think that I would have learned to tie a knot in that course, but I don't know that any KP engineers ever do). It was after the second quarter where we were exposed to our initial choice that we had to make our final decision. Me? Well, I was never really interested in boat driving, so engineering was always my course, so to speak.

    I will refrain from any comments with regard to those that chose a deck career, but I do harbor some of the feelings that Jasperdog brings up. Without that kind of rivalry, shipboard live would be boring.

    As a sailing engineer, I always appreciated any mate or captain that had some mechanical or other knowledge of what we did down in the basement. Likewise, I found it easier to work with these same folks by gaining knowledge about their jobs. This really made a difference once I started sailing on ocean going tugboats. Quite often my duties as an engineer would cross over into deck operations, just as a matter of practicality with small crews.
     
  11. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    The trimester system strikes again. I still don't know what was wrong with the quarter system. I don't see what was broken but of course it had to be "fixed" ... A nice "leading organizational change" bullet on someones resume I guess.

    Begin sarcasm ... That knot tying class was probably the only time any deckies actually really DID anything worthwhile. All the rest of their classes were about how to call for more speed, how to complain that there isn't enough A/C on the bridge and the "weather" classes are really just about maximizing their tans ... End sarcasm. Seriously though, on my last two boats I used that class as much as any other. I still do splices. I do wish I could remember how to rig a bosuns chair. That would have come in handy a few times.

    I will disagree slightly with CMakin here in that I want my captain and mate to have an appreciation for my job and that I am not just a grease monkey or a mechanic. That I am as much a professional in my area as you are in yours and respect that I have advanced my license just as far as you did. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I am happy
    to defend myself and justify the things I tell my captain, but I expect him to respect my professional opinion just as I do his. I keep my captain well informed of the material condition of his boat now I expect him to leave me alone and let me do my job.
     
  12. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    I don't know that I said that I want my deck department to have an appreciation for what I do, it is just that I appreciate it when they do. Just like when I would tell them that they ARE really more than boat drivers. . . .
     
  13. wac2013

    wac2013 Member

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    To definitively answer the question that was the original basis of this thread: the MOT/Shopper program is NOT being offered the the class of 2015. which is a damn shame (I'm a shopper). Having the option for Deckies to learn basic (very basic) engineering is invaluable to anyone who spends any time anywhere on a ship other than directly in front of a radar console. At sea, I could recognize and understand the simpler elements of the engine systems aboard, could work with valves and piping on deck, and assist with basic repairs. At school, the engineering knowledge is invaluable as a member of the waterfront, where we are responsible for the Deck and Engine sides of our vessels, and just as someone who spends alot of my free time on boats. I would go so far to say that many of the top members of the 2013 Deck side are shoppers, as well as many of the better mariners that I would identify out of my class.

    In addition, almost every engineering and many deck teachers have expressed their support for deckies with engine experience. I have yet to hear anyone bring up any valid point for getting rid of the program. Killing off shopper because we cant get the QMED anymore just seems asinine. Logistics majors don't get anything extra for learning about logistics, why should we have to justify our existence with an extra piece of paper?
     
  14. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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  15. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    My suggestion would be to try and get in to those same engineering classes as your electives.
     
  16. Mariner123

    Mariner123 New Member

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    It is true, the shopper program is no longer offered for classes after the class of 2014. It has not been determined in any manner if current students enrolled in the program will or will not be allowed to get the qmed endorsements. Contrary to popular myth and rumor, the USCG has not changed the rules that govern this endorsement, and at present the enrolled students should be able to take the exams and get the endorsement. This was (is) a great program for the deck type student who wants to know more about how his vessel operated, it allows them to understand what is going on down below. The best mates and captains I had sailed with were the ones that integrated better with the other half of the vessel that is below deck. The ship was happier, ran better and had less rivalry among the departments. That goes for the engineers understanding what is going on topside also. Although I don't usually promote the idea of parents getting involved in their adult child's education, I would like to see someone stand up and ask the academy why this program was eliminated, what is the official reason being given by the school for the elimination of this program?
     

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