San Jacinto Capitalizes on Texas’ Booming Maritime Industry

Maritime employment in Texas is booming. The state leads the nation in export tonnage, and there are currently over one million jobs in marine cargo activity at the Port of Houston and other private terminals.

Due to the growth in the industry, San Jacinto College has broken ground on a 45,000-square-foot Maritime Technology and Training Center in La Porte, set for completion next year.

According to Sarah Janes, the Vice President of Continuing and Professional Development at the College, the Center “marks the beginning of a new chapter for the maritime program at San Jacinto College.” She went on to say that “[a]s we have done since day one, we will continue to seek guidance from our industry partners to ensure we properly and successfully prepare mariners as they train in this new facility and move into their careers.”

The college has awarded over 3,000 USCG-required certifications and developed the state’s first associate degree in maritime transportation, all since 2010. This rapid growth has necessitated the college’s need to expand, according to Brenda Hellyer, College Chancellor.

Said Hellyer, “When we began envisioning what we wanted to see for our maritime training program, we knew we had to build a world-class facility.”

The college purchased 13 acres along the Port of Houston in 2012 for the Maritime Training Center, said Hellyer, following an exhaustive search of multiple locations in the area.

With the new program, students can earn both associate degrees and certificates, and they can also receive incumbent worker maritime training. The Center will also offer USCG-required engineering and deck coursework, to prepare students to work on commercial vessels – in positions ranging from deckhand to oil tanker captain.

Once completed, the Center will house 15 classrooms and engineering simulators to train engineers to handle electric, hydraulic, pump control, heating and air conditioning, motor control and refrigeration jobs. Additionally, there will be a multi-purpose space for conferences and corporate meetings.

The center will also include three full-mission ship bridge simulators, acquired from the Houston Pilots, as part of a 3,748 square-foot simulation suite. The suite will house instructor stations, development stations and debrief classrooms. College officials also plan to add a full-mission engine room simulator to interconnect with the bridge simulators, which would allow simultaneous training exercises for engineering and deck officers.

Said Rear Adm. William W. Pickavance, Jr., consultant to the program, “This is one of the greatest experiences that I’ve ever been a part of . . . This facility is going to make a big impact and help mariners stay competitive in a global industry. I believe it will become a center of excellence.”

According to Capt. Mike Morris, Presiding Officer of the Houston Pilots, “We’re excited to be partners with San Jacinto College and to be on board with the Maritime Training Center.”