Adam Zimbro & Jon Carvalho with Manager Paul Dow
“MTTI helped me become a good technician.”— Adam Zimbro, 2000 Marine Service Technician Graduate
“Because MTTI structures the class and shop like a work environment, the transition to NEB was not as difficult as it might have been.”— Jon Carvalho, 2013 Marine Service Technician Graduate
“MTTI is one of the few training facilities in the region that specializes in teaching outboards—no one else focuses on the outboard the way MTTI does.
If someone shows ability in their training on outboards at MTTI, it can transfer to working on diesel engine boats at NEB.” — Paul Dow, Mechanical / Electrical Systems Manager, New England Boatworks
MEETING AT THE PROVIDENCE BOAT SHOW
Paul Dow, Mechanical/ Electrical Systems Manager at New England Boatworks (NEB), and Adam Zimbro, then a student in MTTI’s Marine Service Technician program, met during the winter of 2000, at the Providence Boat Show. Adam was looking for a training-related internship to complete his program and prepare for entry-level work in the Marine Industry. Paul was looking for new talent to fill entry-level positions. He commented, “We were having trouble finding people with appropriate skills back then; we continue to have difficulty finding well-trained technicians.”
Adam gave Paul his resume; NEB offered Adam an internship. After completing his internship, Adam was hired as a Marine Technician. Fifteen years later, Adam continues to enjoy working at NEB; he is now able to answer the questions of newly hired technicians. When Jon Carvalho interned at NEB in 2013, Adam, a graduate of the same program, knew exactly what knowledge and skills Jon had. He helped Jon bridge the gap from school to workplace. NEB hired Jon as he completed his internship; Adam and Jon continue to work together on projects.
Paul trained and mentored both Adam and Jon. He explained, “Marine industry technology grows exponentially each year—electrical systems have become more complicated and everything is becoming digitized. Engines are increasingly technologically advanced. EPA Emissions requirements become electronically controlled—it goes beyond the mechanical. As technology becomes more sophisticated, technical demands on marine workers continuously increase. You either become someone who swaps something out, or understands how it works.”
MARINE SERVICE TECHNICIAN PROGRAM
Adam and Jon both came to MTTI without much mechanical experience. Adam had worked ten years in landscaping and was employed part-time by a supermarket. He enjoyed helping friends and family make things work. His father owned a boat, but Adam didn’t initially choose a marine mechanical career path. “My parents had encouraged me to go to school for computers; I was taking classes at BCC. I knew someone who had attended MTTI, so I visited the school. I liked Gerry Roy, who, at that time, was the instructor. I also felt comfortable with the smaller class size of about 13-15 students, I wanted a hands-on program, not just an academic one.”
Jon was working as a temporary machine operator and stocking shelves at a packing store. “I tried taking Criminal Justice classes on-line, but it wasn’t for me. I liked the hands-on approach. My father was a welder; he built catamarans.
I always enjoyed working on my own car—working in marine has some similarity—and some differences—compared to working on cars. I initially thought either a motorcycle or marine mechanic career could be right for me. I visited MTTI because I wanted to get a Certificate and go to work, in preference to attending a four year college.”
During the program, Adam loved working on the boats people brought to the school for repair. “It was more real than working on the donated boats. I found it challenging to learn about transmissions, outdrives for different types of boats, with different systems. I learned to read serial numbers on engines and to decipher years and certain lettering. I still use my MTTI notebook after all these years—there is so much valuable information in it. MTTI helped me become a good technician.
Beyond technical training, I learned to be more responsible, punctual—MTTI treated time in class like a job. My instructor always stressed the importance of customer service. During school, I also learned patience—if you’re not patient, you make mistakes and break things.”
Jon explained that, “At the start of school I attempted to take pistons out of motors that had sunk. By the end of the year my Instructor, Don, gave us a different block with pistons—we had to put them back, run the engine and get the boat to start. It took learning all the skills taught during the program to complete these projects.”
Adam remembered that, “After the field trip to the Providence Boat Show, where we handed out resumes, Paul Dow of New England Boatworks, contacted me. I was more willing, compared with other students in my class, to work on a wide variety of systems; some students wanted to only work on outboards. I had worked with the public so I had the people and communication skills to talk with customers about preventive maintenance and recalls. Still, it was a little intimidating to jump from the classroom into the internship.
During my internship with NEB, Paul first sent me to boat building. By seeing how boats are built, Paul knew I would better understand how they work. When I came to the mechanical shop, I was put to work with very knowledgeable, well-trained mechanics. Interning as part of MTTI’s program, and the opportunity to gain experience at NEB, has been very important me.”
Jon recalled that, “I had planned to intern at a marine outfit in Tiverton. The internship fell through a week before the start date. I went back to the list my instructor had us make of ‘five places where I would like to work’ and contacted each of them. Fortunately, New England Boatworks offered me an internship opportunity.
When I came to NEB, I didn’t know anything about Diesel engines, but I told Paul I was willing to learn. Because MTTI structures the class and shop like a work environment, the transition to NEB was not as difficult as it might have been. The tools that MTTI awards you, after you obtain training-related employment, were a great start. MTTI gives everything needed to do most jobs; I use them almost every day.”
According to Paul, “NEB doesn’t expect interns to be income generating (billable). Internships are an opportunity to learn until you can work on your own. Someone is always there to help, and keep you out of trouble, as long as you ask questions.
Marine can be a lot more challenging than other mechanical fields, where things are modularized and a computer tells you what to do. Most important—show up, listen and learn, be polite. If students have ability, we can teach them.”
WORKING AT NEB
Describing his work Adam said, “It’s nice on a summer’s day, getting to ride to Block Island. Boats are in the water April through December. During winter, we are in the shop. We still work on boats during the winter—labor rates go down, and we do preventive maintenance and repairs to make boats ready for spring.
Jon added, “I love being on the water day in and day out. I never work on exactly the same thing—every boat is different. Adam and I have learned to show respect for people’s boats—just like you would their homes. Leave the boat as clean as you found it—or better.”
Adam and Jon appreciate that NEB helps them continue their education, by sending them to manufacturers’ trainings. Since graduating from MTTI, Adam has received special training on Yanmar Engines and earned the American Boat & Yachting Council Certification (the equivalent of ASE for automotive technicians). According to Adam, “People who hold these are recognized as reputable, trained technicians.” Jon said, “I have attended a Yanmar training, and look forward to completing the Certification.”
Paul commented, “If someone wants to just work on engines, this is not the right place for them. As long as the individual is not scared about the size of the organization, he or she will find there’s a lot of support here—people with so many years of experience to learn from. Don’t get scared about what you don’t know. NEB has a lot of opportunity, and people to help you. By having employees work on many different things, we can keep them busy.”
He advised prospective interns that, “NEB is not a fast track for someone who wants to move into a managerial position. Someone can become a foreman / lead man, but it takes time and hard work. It can be difficult here to get to where one can assume responsibilities.
However, places like NEB are different every day—different challenges. There is more opportunity here to be self-regulating. That’s great for some people—others may prefer to be in the shop at another organization, where they will have more direction.”
PROGRAM ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER
In addition to mentoring multiple MTTI interns and new-hires, Paul provides support to MTTI’s Marine Service Technician program as a Program Advisory Committee Member. He joins with other Marine industry employers and specialists twice yearly, to review the Marine Service Technician program curriculum, shop facilities and tools and equipment. His suggestions and recommendations help MTTI continuously update and improve the program to meet the employment needs of the marine community.
“NEB is keen on supporting technical internships. We encourage the development of schools, and MTTI welcomes input. MTTI is one of the few training facilities in the region that specializes in teaching outboards—no one else focuses on outboard the way MTTI does. Outboards have the single biggest sales nationally. Outboard technology is the same as diesels. NEB’s primary market is diesel engine boats. If someone shows ability in their training on outboards at MTTI, it can transfer to working on diesel engine boats at NEB.”
New England Boatworks, Inc. is located on approximately 30 acres on the East Passage of Narragansett Bay 6 miles North of Newport. We are a 100+ employee team involved in new construction, refit, repair, service (electrical, mechanical, metalwork and more) for all types and sizes of sail and power yachts. A deepwater, fully sheltered marina with 360 slips from 20 to 150 feet. Amenities include fuel, water, power, full-service boatyard, haulout, storage, a marine hardware store, engine, electronics, rigging and yacht broker services, and a dockside restaurant and swimming pool. Visit our company web site: www.neboatworks.com
Governor’s Workforce Board: The Need for Skilled Labor in the Marine Industry states:
“…Occupational projections by the Department of Labor indicate that because of the combined pressures of expected retirements and anticipated growth, the state’s marine trades cluster will have to replace fully 26% of its current work force over the next ten years. In short, finding ways to attract, train and retain skilled workers will be a critical challenge facing the cluster over the coming decade.”