Yacht Design School's
Frequently Asked Questions
Pick the question that interests you or scroll down to read all of them:
When I graduate
will I be a Naval Architect or a Yacht Designer?
How does taking the YDS course compare with University degree programs?
How does YDS compare with Westlawn, Southampton Institute, & the Landing School?
Would the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale’s program “Yacht & Marine Design” be a good alternative to YDS for someone wanting to be a yacht designer?
Why was this school founded and why do you run it?
When I graduate will I receive a diploma?
Will I learn to design commercial boats as well as yachts?
How much time will it take to complete the course?
What kind of support can I expect while working on the lessons?
What are the total expenses associated with the course?
Why are your tuition rates so low, as compared to the other schools?
Can I pay a large amount of money up front, rather than pay by the lesson?
Should I do the main curriculum entirely using manual drafting, entirely in CAD, or some combination of the two?
Do I really need these tools?
Do I retain the rights to the designs I do during the course?
Can I take the course just for my own interest even if I don't want to become a professional?
What are the mathematical requirements?
Can I order all the lessons at once?
How much can yacht draftsmen and yacht designers make?
Occasionally I have heard people claim that yacht designers do not make much money, is this true?
What would a typical career path be?
Is there a job placement service at YDS?
How large a vessel does a naval architect specializing in yacht and small craft design create?
Do you still teach manual drafting?
Do you teach Computer Assisted Design?
Will I have to take your elective courses in Computer Assisted Design to get work?
I already have non-Rhino CAD software. Do you allow use of non-Rhino CAD in the course?
Should I take the Computer Assisted Design Course before, after, or during the YDS main curriculum?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree from a college that is supposed to qualify me to practice as a naval architect but I don't seem to be able to get a job in yacht or small commercial craft design. Would YDS be useful to me?
How do I get experience in dealing with clients while taking the course?
Do students ever get work in the field before completing the course?
How easy is it to get work in the field and eventually run my own business?
To what extent is naval architecture a men only club?
Where do naval architects locate?
What kind of designs are most often requested?
What Limits are there on where lessons can be sent and are there extra shipping charges?
I attend another school, which will not help me with remedial math, must I switch to your school?
I attend another school and my instructor says that my drafting isn't good enough, that they don’t teach drafting, and I should go take a drafting course. Can you help?
I attend another school and for part of my training they require me to use CAD, but they don't actually teach CAD. Can you help?
Will you teach structural analysis and structural design to a student of another school, or a practicing designer who never got this training?
Will you answer my questions if I'm taking a competing course?
Is it OK for a practicing yacht designer to attend your school?
Do you teach multihulls?
May I just order all the lessons and not bother with taking the tests or getting a diploma?
Why isn't Yacht Design School advertised in the boating magazines?
When I graduate will I be a Naval Architect or a Yacht Designer?
The profession is naval architecture. Our school teaches naval architecture with a specialty in yacht and small craft design. Whether you use the term "naval architect" is usually a matter your choice, or in some cases of legal definition of the government in your state, province or country, whichever applies. In the United States there are, to our knowledge, two states, Washington and Oregon, which reserve the title naval architect to those taking specific tests and taking out a state license. If you wish to use the term naval architect, while working in those states you must take their tests. However we know of no state, or indeed country, which prohibits naval architects from practicing under the title of yacht designer. The field is simply too small to bother to regulate that closely. Back to top.
How does taking the YDS course compare with University degree
To our knowledge there is only one university degree program, the one from Southampton in Britain, which has a suitable curriculum to prepare naval architects to practice in the specialty of yacht and small craft design. To be blunt many of the most famous schools no longer seem to be teaching even the design of larger ships. It seems to be the fashion now to charge a very great deal of money for a university education and to separate the academic studies as far as possible from the practical information necessary to begin a career.
Most of the famous yacht designers in history never took a large ship naval architectural degree. Most of them learned from other naval architects, took courses like ours, or were self taught. Further only a very small number of practicing naval architects today who specialize in yacht and small craft design have university based Bachelor of Science degrees with a major in naval architecture. The schools teaching yacht and small craft naval architecture have invariably been small institutions teaching a few hundred students at a time. This is because there are not, and never have been, large numbers of people who want to design yachts and other small craft.
In our experience the four active schools teaching yacht design in the entire world are sufficient to train all those who want to join the profession. We feel that the intensely focused study, more advanced body of knowledge, and very high degree of personal attention tend to make our school one of the best for those wishing to be practicing naval architects specializing in yacht and small craft design.
Given the enormous differential in cost between our program and the less applicable curriculum produced by the major universities we would find it unjustifiable for anyone to recommend the university over a school such as ours, whether our particular school was chosen or not. There are others with a different opinion of course. We have had extensive correspondence with a naval architect who went the university route and apparently feels that correspondence schools and residential schools that specialize in yacht and small craft naval architecture are not proper education. It is almost impossible for us to write out and organize his ideas so that we do not seem to be distorting his views. It is note worthy that this gentleman does not in fact practice as a yacht and small craft naval architect in the private sector but rather is employed in designing vessels for the government.
We believe that it is also note worthy that a significant proportion of those entering our school are graduate "large ship" naval architects or marine engineers, both just out of school and of many years experience, who wish to transition to yacht and small craft design but have found that no one in the field will hire them unless they take our course. Presumably they don't always literally say it has to be our course, but that is the general message I'm getting. This is not that anyone disparages their achievements but that people in our field recognize how very different the large ship work is from yacht and small craft design and that people transitioning between the two simply will not be efficient enough employees or associates until they've been retrained. Back to top.
How does YDS compare with Westlawn, Southampton Institute, & the
In general we have found that the other major programs all seem to be reasonably good on basic theory within limitations mentioned below as needed. Our school adds to this much more work in developing both drawing skills and judgment in using the theory. Further we go much deeper into advanced hull lines development, proper analysis of frictional resistance, and structural analysis soundly based upon science and some other items than Westlawn has in recent years. Some material from instructors at Westlawn indicates some flaws in understanding stability as well, though this may not be embodied in the actual curriculum. A degree from Southamption Institute or Westlawn will probably satisfy an employer that you understand much of the theory of design. A degree from The Landing School will probably get you an entry level drafting job. I believe in the case of Southampton Institute there is a reasonable emphasis on structural analysis as well. The Landing School appears to be oriented toward the practical instruction to gain an entry level drafting position. However when a student finishes our course they will have a portfolio of actual designs that will convince employers that they can actually draw boats for an employer with confidence. There is a subtle difference in emphasis here. Also this is a very personal course in which you are in constant contact with a real working designer, not an academic teacher of design.
Westlawn was once a major competitor and may well be again under their new ownership. When they were owned by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and later the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) they appeared to be more oriented toward training people to be draftsmen for production boat builders. As of early 2015 the school has been sold to a group of three individuals from California, Philadelphia, and Britain, who have worked rapidly to put the school on a sound financial footing. For the moment at least they are employing many of the same people who worked there when owned by ABYC. After a long conversation with their president we believe they have made, and are making, the decisions needed to put the school on a track that ensures its survival. Given the new business plan there, they could well build up a significant student body again and be a significant competitor again in the future. In an effort to provide a reasonable comparison with what they have done in the past I must rely on information given to me by Westlawn students. Since Westlawn students who talk to me obviously tend to be students who aren't getting on well at Westlawn or are coming to us for material not available at Westlawn, I have tried to be fair in assessing how they actually compare with our school. After all I'm sure there have been students who did not feel they had a good fit with us who talk to them! I hope that most of this they would agree with. I have been shown letters purporting to be from them which point out that students are expected to be proficient in math and drafting and that they are not in the remedial math or remedial drafting business. Perhaps this will change under new ownership. This is a bit different than our approach. We expect to put in time with some of our students on some kind of math assistance. We teach drafting absolutely from scratch and even students who have been practicing naval architects for decades have said that they learn from us in that area. We also put more emphasis on training people in the business end of the profession so that they have some preparation for running their own business. Having said all this it is important to understand that in the past Westlawn has handled the primary training for a number of excellent designers. We run our school because we have a different training orientation and believe in a very heavy emphasis on gaining as much practical experience as possible through the course. We also believe in students being able to pay as they go and take the program at their own pace without financial penalty. Based on a text book purporting to be one of theirs that was given to me by one of their students and which appears to contradict conventional materials science and the principles of structural analysis, we would suggest that a couple of college level courses in materials and structural analysis would be a good idea for those going the Westlawn route. Again the new owners may well provide direction toward more conventional materials science and structural analysis. I do not mean this to be a criticism of anyone at Westlawn past or present. I'm sure everyone, including the author of the book in question, is trying very hard to provide the very best for their students. Nor do I mean to imply that our instructors are flawless in the scope of their knowledge, or that our texts are perfect. We too are just trying to do the best we can and we can all always benefit from more education.
As I understand it from hearing about Southampton through quotes from people who teach there, they stress developing a theoretical background and have a large amount of laboratories and test equipment. This is wonderful and would be very exciting to be around. However, they do say that they don't really teach drawing and they don't teach you to develop judgment in applying the theory. They assume that you will learn that on the job and recommend at least a year of internship before looking for paying work. Our course has somewhat different emphasis. We stress developing your drawing skills and developing judgment in applying the normal calculations. The underlying theory is taught thoroughly but is tightly integrated into learning the practical work of design and running a design firm. Our reasoning being that you can't get a job as a draftsman or do a good job as a designer if you can't draw boats and that all theory in the world is not much help if you don't know when to apply it. Our school also has the advantage of all main curriculum instruction being by a naval architect who is a principle in a major yacht design firm with assistance from his draftsmen and associate designers. Our other curricula are taught by practicing experts in their particular fields. This keeps us pretty close to the practical needs of the industry. In fact MacNaughton Yacht Designs, which is run by YDS instructor Thomas A. MacNaughton largely recruits its draftsmen from the YDS student body. Again having put our differences in what would naturally be a positive light for our school we want to emphasize that a number of excellent designers have gotten their primary training from Southampton Institute.
Although it is a purely residential course intended to get you an entry level job in design, and costs a good deal more than our school, the Landing School appears to have an intensely practical orientation, sufficient exposure to basic theory, and the advantage of frequent visits by quite prestigious designers to help inspire students. If there is any single school that we would recommend aside from ours this would be it. Again some well known designers either have graduated from the school or are supporters of it.
There is one more school that we should mention where some have told us you can major in yacht and small craft design per se. This is Webb Institute, which is generally speaking a college which trains people to be "large ship" naval architects. However we understand that with special permission one can specialize in yacht and small craft design. This school is remarkable in that it is fully endowed and does not charge tuition. In fact I understand students actually receive living expenses while attending. As you can imagine their enrollment is limited and it is a tough school to get into. They do have a very good reputation.
We hope to eventually fully endow at least our "CAD Course" instruction and someday perhaps even the main curriculum. That would be wonderful but it will be quite awhile before there is any chance of accomplishing this.
This covers our major "competition". We do hope we have been reasonably fair to all of them. Readers should understand that the information presented here is the best we have based upon articles on these schools, statements of their instructors or owners, and comments of their students. We cannot say definitively that these are balanced views. You should ask them the same questions you ask us and form your own opinions. Back to top.
Would the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale’s program “Yacht & Marine Design” be
a good alternative to YDS for someone wanting to be a yacht designer?
From our investigation of their curriculum and faculty, correspondence with students attending their school, and consultation with a colleague who has researched the various alternatives for those wishing training in yacht and small craft naval architecture, we all appear to agree that the “Yacht & Marine Design” program does not teach people to be “yacht designers” in the sense that we mean. We are disappointed with their choice of name for their program. They do not appear to teach a branch of naval architecture such that a graduate would actually be intended to produce the complete design of a vessel with all the drawings and calculations necessary for it to be a success. We are told that they teach none of the mathematics of naval architecture and structural analysis. Their faculty list does not appear to include anyone trained in yacht and small craft naval architecture, nor is anyone listed as being a teacher of specifically marine related subjects. They appear to be teaching “yacht styling” and “interior decorating”. There is nothing wrong with this. Your author would be delighted to take many of their courses, which sound attractive and useful in developing aspects of sketches, renderings, animations and other conceptual and promotional material. Our own Yacht Design School places great emphasis on yacht aesthetics, a bit different than “styling”, and safe, efficient, comfortable accommodations, which again is a bit different than “interior decorating”. We add more instruction every year on computer aided modeling and rendering and hope to expand into other aspects of using computers in concept design and promotion. Nevertheless these elements are a small part of our curriculum. With the Fort Lauderdale curriculum these elements appear to be everything. Graduates of theirs will be presumed by employers to not know most of what people in the industry consider to be the profession of yacht and small craft naval architecture or “yacht design”. The program should be renamed “Yacht Styling & Interior Decorating” rather than imply that it teaches the profession of yacht design or yacht and small craft naval architecture as it is normally understood in the industry. In an industry definitely needing improved education, we feel that this institution is taking a step backward from the standard of a broadly and deeply educated work force. We must recommend that, if your intention is to work for a design firm or custom boat building firm and actually design vessels from start to finish, doing all the calculation and design work, you should not be taking the Fort Lauderdale course. You should be choosing between Yacht Design School and the other schools mentioned above depending upon your goals, preferences, and finances. Who should take the Fort Lauderdale course in preference to ours? Everyone seems to agree that their program would be a good bet for someone who wished to limit their work to being a stylist or interior decorator within, say, a large firm which designs very large luxury yachts or within a large custom boat building firm which needed someone who specialized only in stylistic and decorative elements and whose stylistic treatments will be turned over to others to be actually designed. However this appears to be a limited market. The firms that we are familiar with will not hire someone who is only a stylist or interior decorator. Perhaps such a person might aim to eventually do such work on a consulting basis for several firms. We have spent a great deal of time researching this and writing this answer and hope that we have been completely fair in our appraisal. While we feel a need to clarify the differences between what we teach and what they teach, we assume that they are doing a good job of what they do teach. If that matches what you want to learn, they could be a good choice. Back to top.
Why was this school
founded and why do you run it?
Yacht Design School was founded when our favorite school to refer people to, Yacht Design Institute, was bought by Maine Maritime Academy and then, inexplicably, closed down. We feel that Maine Maritime Academy was under the impression that there were very large numbers of people who wanted to be naval architects specializing in yacht and small craft design. There are not. Yacht Design School was then founded in an attempt to make sure that there was a way for people to get the necessary education to maintain and increase the standards of the world's naval architects. Further we felt that with modern communications our type of education, whether you call it correspondence courses, or distance learning has become the most cost effective and practical method of obtaining higher education in our profession.
The above is just the factor that explains the initial start date. See "Why We Run Yacht Design School" for a much deeper look at our reasons for wanting to do it and why it has been a continuing passion for over a quarter of a century.
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graduate will I receive a diploma?
Yes, you will receive a diploma in Naval Architecture with a Specialty in Yacht and Small Craft Design. This certifies your competence in the knowledge and skills of the profession. This will get you in the door for an interview just about anywhere. Your portfolio of student work should get you a job in one of the firms of your choice. Back to top.
Will I learn to design commercial boats as well as yachts?
Yes. All the knowledge will be there with the exception of specific cargo or fishing gear functionality which will depend on your ability to talk to the commercial boat operator and define their needs. You will have the structural analysis knowledge to design what ever type of cargo handling or fishing gear is required if it is not an off the shelf item. Back to top.
much time will it take to complete the course?
At present our best estimate is that the average student should take about 4 years to complete the course, although in theory a student working 8 hours a day weekdays or a couple of hours an evening and both days on weekends could complete the course in two years. Depending upon how fast you learn you will probably spend somewhere between 2,000 hours and 4,000 hours drawing, calculating and reading. However this depends so much on the individual and how much time they can put in per week that these are only an indication. Generally those who put in the most time per week actually take the least number of total hours to complete the work. It is quite normal for students to get work in the field well before completing the course. By the time you are about 1/3 of the way through the course you might well be ready to get a job as an entry level draftsman under the direction of a skilled designer.
This is a course which attempts to fully prepare you for a technical profession. You should expect to work hard. You should also expect that the satisfaction level in learning this material is high and the eventual financial rewards significant. Back to top.
What kind of support can I expect while working on the lessons?
You may contact us at any time during working hours with questions on lessons. While you can use regular mail, or phone, for most purposes email is superior and is highly encouraged. Distance learning students are welcome to visit our offices when they can for extra help but must remember that they should give us a fair amount of notice so that there will be no disappointments through a schedule conflict. We have students visit from all over the world. Back to top.
are the total expenses associated with the course?
By the time you are ready to run a professional design firm you will have spent, given current tuition levels, around $7,801 on the lessons of the main curriculum. Most students find it easiest and most cost effective to take our "CAD Course" first and do the entire main curriculum using the Rhino on screen design software. The most expensive option here would be $1,395 for the course and the Rhinoceros(r) software with rendering and animation plug ins. Some students with prior knowledge of Rhino or other CAD software, or a lot of confidence in their ability to learn on their own simply buy the Rhino educational license at our student price of $195. Additional programs we recommend later in the main curriculum can cost $330. Unfortunately vital manual drafting tools are now impossible to buy new, which has closed off the option of learning to design using manual methods. In any case learning to design "on screen" is nowadays less expensive and more powerful, so it is undoubtedly the best option. You will be likely to have spent, say, $2,000 on books. The prices for the lessons are in the YDS Brochure, on the school page, and on the old Enrollment Form which is still on the site for the moment. Virtually everyone these days has a computer capable of CAD work, and which can also be used for writing magazine articles, developing and maintaining a web site, and communicating by email. If you wanted to specially invest in all the best top of the line computer equipment from scratch, which most won't need to do these days, you could add that in. A top of the line computer with a good color printer, DVD+RW drive, scanner, digital camera, Microsoft Office Professional, Microsoft Expression Web, and the Rhino/Flamingo CAD and rendering packages could run up to $2,000. Your web site will probably cost you around $50 per month for access and hosting. So your non-recurring expenses by the time you start your own professional office, which at this point will be fully equipped, could run up as high as $12,125. There is absolutely no need for fancy offices. I have never seen an economic justification for anything other than working out of your home unless you are working for someone else. The most prestigious firms in the world were traditionally quite happy to use plywood doors to draft on. Our director and administrator's house and boat are at present about half offices. Fortunately with today's collaborative software, which allows people working for us to work from anywhere in the world in real time just as if they were right here in the office with us, we will probably never need the expense of a separate office building. Back to top.
Why are your tuition rates so low, as compared to the other schools?
There is no magic in this. The reasons are simple and result from the different structure and situation of the school rather than depth or quality of education. The following structural differences were a deliberate choice as we wanted to create a school that would be affordable for the largest possible number of people:
1) Aside from our web site, which was put up to provide immediate access to school information, we do no promotion at all. How can not advertising at all possibly work? The answer is simple. We rely on the confidence in us created by our extremely personal attention and service, our ability to get people good jobs, and student and design firm word of mouth, recommendations, and referrals. We have always believed that these are far more powerful and effective than advertising and so it has proved. For the first seven years of the school's existence, before the Internet revolution, we did not even have the web site to help. Yet we always grew at a steady pace. Admittedly the web site has accelerated this. Since our competitors advertise heavily in many expensive yachting magazines, their expenses are enormously greater than ours. In fact the ad expenses of competing schools must be a large percentage of their budget, which must ultimately be borne by the student. Although we have become the largest school we never tried for size, we were only interested in supplying the best possible education in the most personal possible manner to how ever many students enrolled. If you don’t care about size, the entire business plan of the school looks different and advertising becomes superfluous. Ironically it is apparently partly our personal “small school” atmosphere, in addition to just plain the great depth of education we provide, which has led so many students and design firms to recommend us to others. This has grown the school until we probably teach somewhere around 1/2 of the formally trained yacht and small craft naval architects in the world. All in all having no advertising budget means low tuition.
2) Since we also run a design firm we have all the same personnel, CAD workstations, general computers, office space, etc. that we need to run the school at no additional fixed costs. We could do without the income from it and support the staff entirely on our custom design work, stock plans and publications sales. As long as we make enough on the actual working time so that we aren’t losing money over doing drafting during the same time, we don’t need to make any more. In contrast the entire cost of staff, equipment, and office space of other schools must not only be borne by the school but is a large percentage of their budget. The physical plants of the other schools are more expensive and ours is humble, but we have no interest in "impressive" plants for their own sake. We are only interested in whether the plant does what we need it to do; and with all but a handful of our students being distance learning students it is hard to see any benefit to the student in investing in a fancier set of buildings.
3) The school is structured to be extremely scalable, with all the fixed expenses of the business borne by the design business, and is able to make money with either a small or large number of students just as easily, since all the costs are variable costs. Therefore we never have had to worry about keeping “volume” up to make sure we exceeded some break even point. Because of this cost structure we are under no pressure to try to force the growth of the school and thus under no pressure to advertise. This neatly provides another justification for our avoidance of advertising. In actual fact we seem to be about the size of a large private college preparatory school or a modest college in terms of average enrollment.
4) We have a shore office on a beautiful small coastal Maine island of 3.75 square miles with a beautiful natural environment full of wildlife on land, in the sea, and in the air. The island is surrounded by wonderful sailing grounds and the community is very friendly and supportive. Although Eastport is technically a city, the population is only 1,642 people. Housing, office and other costs tend to be lower here than they are for our competitors, which have normally been located in larger cities or other very high cost areas. In this particular area modesty is highly prized and we feel no need to build fancy buildings or spend money on lavish office furnishings, fancy cars, and stylish clothes. All of this keeps our costs very low. We have recently also purchased a 30' double ended pilothouse sloop which holds personal offices for Nannette and Tom in the summer. This office is even less expensive than our shore office. I’m sure this all works out so that the cost structures of all the schools are perfectly legitimate for their differing philosophies of operation, their location, and their decisions on promotion. It is doubtful if any differences in tuition really reflect any differences in educational value. The choice of school should ideally be made independently of the cost. Nevertheless, we are pleased with our choices in that the lower cost allows people to pursue an education in yacht and small craft naval architecture, who otherwise could not afford to. It does look like for the foreseeable future, though our rates will naturally rise over time with costs, our students will continue to pay significantly less than they would at other schools. Back to top.
Can I pay a large amount of money up front, rather than pay by the lesson?
No, we do not take large advance payments, other than for the "CAD Course", which is paid for up front. Some people have gotten educational grants that are supposed to be paid immediately to the school or have saved up money and want to pay for a considerable portion of the course at once. However, we have a refund policy which allows people send back any lessons which have not been corrected at least once. At times people have paid for the whole course and then later asked for virtually all the money back. Unlike other schools, which don't do refunds, we want people to be totally at ease with investing in an education with us. Part of that is removing significant financial risk for the student. At the same time refunding large sums, even though it rarely happens can be a financial strain which can make things difficult for us. For this reason we encourage orders for no more than two (2) YDS main curriculum lessons at a time. In this way after mailing in one lesson to be corrected, the student has another to work on. The student can place a new order for the next lesson when they are ready to return a lesson to be corrected. It will then be on the way to them while their completed lesson is on the way to us so that they will almost always have two lessons in hand to work on. Further, this way you are sure you are always working with the latest revision when you pick up the next lesson to start work. Back to top.
Should I do the YDS main curriculum entirely using manual drafting, entirely in CAD, or some combination of the two?
These days students work entirely in CAD. These days it is the best and by far the least expensive choice. CAD is entirely dominant in yacht designing since Rhino came on the scene. Before then CAD was taking over much more slowly. Today most students choose to take our "CAD Course" before starting the Main Curriculum and get the software bundle with it. While it is not a trivial investment, it gets you the core software for a complete professional design office and the training to use it right at the start. It is still far less expensive than manual drafting equipment. Only a few older designers are still using manual drafting these days and generally only in revising older designs which were originally done manually. In addition less and less of the critical equipment needed for manual drafting is still available.
These days CAD is even changing, for the first time, the nature of the profession. Instead of the builder being responsible for lofting and pattern production, the designer increasingly tends to do everything right up to the point where machines or people start to cut materials to make building jigs or molds. With the growing presence of firms which will prefabricate interior kits, make molds and mold parts, etc. the role of the “builder” has become much more that of kit assembler. We are just at the beginning of this era. A further very important change is that we are now in an era when a yacht design firm can have a collaborative system which allows draftsmen to live anywhere they want and be able to access and work on projects, read supporting documents, and discuss projects with other members of the design team from anywhere in the world. Using Rhino several draftsmen and designers can work on the same project with each able to see the other's work constantly and the chief designer able to make comments on the drawings and in separate messages constantly as the work progresses. In this way top design firms may have people working with them all over the world as long as they have Rhino and access to the Internet.
Though CAD is now used by everyone it is especially important for people living on a boat or people who are going to need to work from a wheelchair, reclining chair, or powered adjustable “hospital” type bed. Further we are finding that students outside the United States lose enough time on shipping lessons back and forth to make it important for them to use CAD as all materials can be sent both ways as email attachments. It is also worth mentioning it is much faster to correct lessons done in CAD than those done manually, which has helped keep tuition down.
While we do not require students using Rhino to take the "CAD Course" as some are able to learn Rhino on their own due to prior knowledge of CAD, most students are most happy taking the "CAD Course" first and then proceeding to the Main Curriculum. We have now reached a point where it is hard to justify not studying CAD. While it would always be possible for a designer to use entirely manual drafting, the manual tools are slowly disappearing and it is now almost impossible to equip an office for manual drafting. We have reached a point in the history of yacht design where, to work for others you will need to know Rhino, manual drafting skills are now of little interest to most modern firms.. Virtually every advertisement for yacht designers or yacht draftsmen now specifically mentions training in the marine uses of Rhino as being a highly sought after skill.
Though these days students do not use manual drafting much, the basic mental attitudes and conventions of how you define and conceive shapes and think about them come from the experience of hundreds of years of manual drafting development and there are still many times, even when using CAD, that we find ourselves essentially duplicating the manual methods on screen to make sure we are getting the results that we want.
All this means that we want students to use Rhino. It is now not only the best and most sought after drafting method, but also the least expensive. In any case the cost of our curricula and a complete CAD based office is a very low entry fee for such a wonderful profession.
Do I really need
Bluntly, yes. You should buy the CAD software, which is very inexpensive, especially given our educational pricing for fully functional packages. Trying to skimp on design tools will cause the quality of your work to suffer and the lessons will take much longer to complete. Unfortunately students who still want manual equipment will not be able to buy everything new any more and may even have to have some items custom made at great cost. When you have the recommended software you will have all the tools of a professional office. Back to top.
Do I retain the rights to the designs I do during the course?
Yes. These will form the basis for your stock plans portfolio and will help ensure that you get a good job. They will also start you on your way to an independent design income if that is the route you want to take. Back to top.
Can I take the course just for my own interest even if I don't want to become a professional?
Yes. There have been a number of famous designers who designed primarily for their friends. Albert Strange was an art instructor and apparently viewed boat design as an offshoot of his artistic temperament. He designed more or less for his friends and acquaintances. He was, in his lifetime and is today, well known and viewed with great affection. Dr. Harrison Butler designed quite a number of very nice boats and simply asked those who had him design them to donate the design fee to medical research.
You may also just want to study for fun or to build one boat of your own design. Boat builders may want to design just for their own customers or want to understand the designs of others. Yacht brokers and surveyors will find the course vastly increases their ability to excel at their jobs. Back to top.
the mathematical requirements?
The first lesson tests your understanding of basic math principles. A fair number of people will find that their biggest problem is poor math "habits" rather than actual lack of understanding. While we eventually get into very basic elements of trigonometry and calculus these concepts are more intimidating in anticipation than they actually are in fact. This is because you will be learning and applying them in the context of real world applications rather than just theory. To start with you should understand addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, fractions and powers and roots. Most people will have most of this. The powers and roots sometimes require a little bit of extra help. However they are essentially simple to learn. While we are happy to teach you everything you need to know at no additional charge, you may also be interested in learning from the online video based Khan Academy. www.khanacademy.org This fully endowed school teaches all levels of math and some additional subjects at no charge to the student. It includes many tools for tracking your own progress. You may be interested to know that it is recommended by Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Back to top.
Can I order
all the lessons at once?
We don't want people to just order all the lessons and then feel that they can design boats using this material just as a reference. Expert instructor feedback, guidance, and correction is vital in learning this material. Therefore, while we do allow and encourage people to order a lesson or two ahead, we do not want people to acquire the entire body of lesson materials all at once. Also as we learn more and more about how different students learn or find areas that can be better covered we rewrite and add material frequently. Therefore it is to the advantage of students to get the most recent possible version of each lesson. We do encourage students to at least order the next lesson well before they complete the previous lesson so that they will have a lesson to work on while waiting for corrections. Back to top.
much can yacht draftsmen and yacht designers make?
Entry level compensation for draftsmen, whether as employees or subcontractors, varies according to two factors. First is location. Firms in or near large cities often seem to concentrate on large vessels, hire people with a good portfolio of drawings, and pay more money. However the cost of living near the cities is higher too. Firms located in beautiful small coastal towns are fairly common as the location doesn't matter much for many designers of international reputation. These firms are more likely to have the time to train inexperienced people, the cost of living is much lower, but the pay is lower too. The second factor is draftsman experience. If you have taken a course, such as ours, that emphasizes drawing and aesthetics and the development of judgment in addition to the basic design and engineering studies, you will have a good portfolio of drawings and can command a higher starting pay. Normally in each area starting pay for a draftsman will be equivalent to the median household income for the area. This means as an individual you can normally expect to have an income better than somewhat more than half the people in your area. This is the "floor".
For some one starting out to be an independent designer more or less immediately after graduation the situation is both worse and better. If you just started "cold" the first year with a portfolio of stock designs from taking the course with no income from yacht drafting from others to back you up, but with a web site to promote your work, plus a determination to do some magazine articles and participate in on-line forums and newsgroups you would make a terrible amount the first year. Let's just guess and say around half what the average family would make in a month in the US. The second year I would suspect that you would do, maybe, half what the average family would make in a year and rise rapidly from there. It is pretty hard to define an upper limit. After a few years you should be in the same position we are with solid amount of base income from stock plans sales, plenty of custom design customers, and the ability to live and work comfortably in beautiful low cost coastal communities. At that point your income is limited mostly by your promotional abilities and your ability to attract draftsmen to help you increase your work load if you decide you want to get big.
As you become established, income depends largely on two factors. First, how many stock plans you have done. This is your base income. Designers who build up their stock plans portfolios tend to get more and more money from this source their whole working careers. It amounts to having an income producing investment. If you think about levels of return for an equivalent level of risk in the financial markets you will see that stock plans income soon reaches the equivalent of having a substantial investment portfolio. The second component of design income is custom design. It is difficult to discover income limits here. It seems to depend mostly on how big a firm you want to run. As your work list grows you can either raise rates to reduce the volume of work to something that you can handle or you can run a careful rate analysis and then take on more draftsmen to take some of the load off you. Probably half the design firms in the world are essentially one person working alone. A moderate sized design firm might have 3 or 4 people in it. The largest design firms have up to 8 or 9 people working there. Naturally the principles of these firms are paying much of what comes in to their draftsmen and much of the remainder on office expenses, and client communications time, but still as they add draftsmen they do add also to their own income. Generally speaking few people ever completely retire from this profession. If you can see, sit up, operate a computer and your mind is clear you can pretty much keep on enjoying your work your whole life. We have also noted that the older designers whom we know all seem to be quite well off. The profession may be slow to build up your income but expenses are quite minimal and most designers with good skills make enough to put a significant amount into investments. Back to top.
Occasionally I have heard people claim that yacht designers do not
make much money, is this true?
As near as we can tell this misconception is purely the opinion of people who have only learned to design boats. They have never learned, or been taught, to promote their work properly. They say that you don't earn much designing yachts. What they really should be saying is that you don't earn anything designing yachts you only earn money when you sell your design work! This is why we devote a part of the course to teaching what you need to know to sell your work and run your business. Given knowledge, a determination to do the best job you can for your customer, and the required ability to promote and sell you should earn a comfortable living. It is easy to demonstrate with quite ordinary figures that a young designer starting out earning a minimal amount, living with reasonable frugality, and investing a modest amount of his or her earnings would, by retirement age, be quite likely to end up a multimillionaire. This is a strong statement but it is reasonably easy to demonstrate. You will learn how to do all this in the latter part of the course from a designer who has made about as many mistakes in promotion and use of money as you can and has come out with enough knowledge to help you avoid the same mistakes. Back to top.
What would a
typical career path be?
Graduates or advanced students would normally be likely to take a job as a draftsman with an established firm. At the same time most people start working extra hours creating designs under their own names to sell as stock plans. Work at any particular firm may vary significantly. It is likely that a junior draftsman may be laid off occasionally and need to switch to another firm. This normally continues until you become valuable enough so that firms are increasingly reluctant to lay you off. For our graduates this should be a relatively short period as you will normally be quite useful to a firm within a relatively short period. At the same time, as you are becoming more valuable to established design firms, you will probably be earning more and more money from your own plans sales and it will become less and less urgent to immediately find another position if you are laid off. Somewhere in this process you may start getting your own custom design commissions. Eventually some firm will offer you a partnership, a percentage, or stock to induce you to stay and you will have to make a decision as to whether you will be happiest in an existing firm or whether you prefer to go out on your own. Those with extensive experience in sailing, cruising, voyaging, boat building and boat repair may conceivably greatly foreshorten this process and be running their own firms very shortly after graduation. This happens more than one would think. Back to top.
a job placement service at YDS?
We have never had anything so formal as a job placement service. It is our policy that if a student seems ready for an entry level job or a graduate should ask for assistance in obtaining a job, we will ask them first if they have any firms that they would particularly like to work for. If they do we will be happy to assist them in applying to those firms and will of course make them aware of which firms have asked us to refer students to them. We also include any firms that we know frequently need draftsmen. The likelihood of placement in a good job with our backing is high. Frankly most graduates would be likely to be offered work with MacNaughton Yacht Designs if they want it. We seem to have a shortage of draftsmen most of the time due to the large demand for our work. Back to top.
How large a vessel does a naval architect specializing in yacht and
small craft design create?
There is no set size limit. As designs increase in size you tend to choose slightly different methods and calculation models to best suit the size vessel designed. Thus the smaller the vessels designed by the large ship specialist the more they will tend to use the techniques of the small ship specialist. The larger you get in the yacht and small commercial craft realm the more you will tend to shift to the formulas and calculation methods of the large ship specialist. We put the emphasis on the techniques most useful for yachts. For instance the propeller for even a quite large yacht will cost so little that you cannot afford to spend much time on calculating it's ideal characteristics. After all if you don't get it exact it will cost very little to have your local prop shop slightly alter the pitch. By way of contrast we would suppose that the propeller for a major tanker might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this case an enormous amount of study time and computer modeling at great expense is amply justified where it might be more than the cost of the whole design work for even quite a large yacht. Nevertheless there are some fairly naive opinions out there that yacht designers just "should" use the same methods as the large ship designers and that the appropriateness of this should not be examined. Your instructor's design firm at the time of this writing is working on a 134' passenger carrying schooner design. Do we use different methods than we would use on a smaller vessel? Of course we do. Yacht Design School tries to expose you to the underlying theories and principles of naval architecture and teaches you to choose and apply appropriate methods for the size vessel you are working on. Back to top.
you still teach manual drafting?
While we still give the information on using manual tools we don't really teach manual drafting anymore. You can't get the specialized tools for it and CAD is just plain better and less expensive using the Rhino software. The three questions below and the corresponding answers should give you a good over view of how we teach drafting. Very few students still want to try manual drafting. Back to top.
teach Computer Assisted Design?
We stress the usefulness of CAD in calculations, in hull lines development, and in the complete design process, we have definitely reached the point where we want students to work with the Rhino CAD software. Our elective "CAD Course" in using the Rhinoceros(r) design program & its plug-ins, commonly known as "Rhino", for those who want to learn the most widely used CAD package for marine design is taken by most students these days. Learning on screen design and learning naval architecture are more easily studied sequentially rather than concurrently. There is more on how to schedule this below. These days Rhino is dominant in the yacht design field and is the most complete single package. Remember that learning CAD is not the same as learning to design anything. CAD is only a tool, you must already have design knowledge and drawing ability to produce anything. Often the same techniques used in manual drafting are used on the computer to achieve finer control in developing hull shapes, etc. Thus our decades of manual drafting skills have proved useful in developing a curriculum for Rhino. CAD is now essentially dominant. Few design firms still have much interest in manual drafting skills. In most cases only CAD is practical today. Also designers and draftsmen working remotely over the Internet for a design firm located somewhere else, a designer confined to a wheelchair, or a designer with handicaps that make it necessary to work from a hospital type bed are inevitably going to use CAD today. Since version 4.0 of Rhino came out there has been no doubt that better and more artistic drawings can be done, and done more efficiently, in Rhino than can be done manually, once you've been taught how to do them. Back to top.
Will I have to take your elective courses in Computer Assisted
Design to get work?
While we don't require you to take the "CAD Course" before going on to the Main Curriculum, there is no doubt that the "CAD Course" certificate of completion is valuable when looking for work. Of course the actual drawings in your portfolio will always be the most important indicator of employability. As long as your portfolio demonstrates that you have mastered Rhino by some route that will be the most important thing to employers. There is no doubt that these days Rhino proficiency combined with good progress in the Main Curriculum virtually guarantees you will be hired. Demand is high for trained Rhino operators. Other packages may still be a plus if you already know them but are declining in importance as Rhino replaces them, and we do not suggest learning other packages for this industry. We are beginning to hear of boatbuilding firms which are requiring everything coming to them to be in Rhino format.
The founders of this school anticipated the use of CAD about 50 years ago with the help of a work of speculative fiction by Robert Heinlein. In 1978 we got our first programmable computer and in 1980 our first computer with a monitor and full alphanumeric keyboard. In the early 80's we worked on lines development programs and in the early 90's started developing hull lines on screen. We have always assumed that someday design work would all be done on computer and our own design work is now being done entirely in Rhino.
These days Rhino is more efficient in creating working drawings with all the extra artistry in presenting the information that the average client and boat builder needs in order to produce an emotional response in the clients and craftsmen. This artistry is very important, unlike some other engineering fields with a different mindset, because you are very much dealing with people's dreams. They want to see the line width shading and line art graining, islands in the background, maybe a hint of clouds in the sky, steaming cocoa on a sideboard, books in the bookshelves, etc. Some designers despise all this but we say if you can sell thousands of dollars worth of design time by putting pillows on the bunks, etc., do it! We have noticed that even in the boat shop, practical though the builders are, they are more confident in, and more enthusiastic about, a beautiful drawing. Until recently we could produce drawings with that essential extra visual appeal more quickly by hand. Now we think the balance has definitely swung to CAD in that if someone wants a beautiful 2D drawing fast we would think first of Rhino. Also with a design staff spread out over the whole world these days collaboration over the Internet now demands that our work be done entirely in CAD. If a CAD drawing is accurate but cold, lifeless, and crude looking you will have great trouble selling your designs. Fortunately it no longer takes more time to get the visual appeal and detail you need in a working drawing with CAD. Now CAD is the most cost effective way to get the most artistry whether in 3D rendered work or 2D working drawings.
So far the only program that we have found that does both a reasonable job of developing lines, doing other drawings, and can output artistic looking drawings is Rhino. This is why we have based our "CAD Course" on it. There are also other benefits to doing design work in Rhino. For instance though the time to define, say, a fitting in Rhino might still be about what it takes to do it with manual drafting. The difference is that you can then send the Rhino file to a service which will cut a prototype part or pattern directly from the CAD File. If only one part is needed you go directly from designing to an automated cutting machine. If you wish to make a number of identical parts the prototype can be used as a pattern for casting duplicates or you can use Rhino to produce a file which directly cuts a permanent mold for casting large numbers of parts.
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I already have non-Rhino CAD software. Do you allow use of
non-Rhino CAD in the course?
We have no rule against using other CAD packages to produce printed out drawings and of course nowadays most students will do most of their calculations with assistance from a computer of some sort. Nevertheless we judge your drawings, whether CAD or manual, by their accuracy, usefulness to a builder and salability. If you have difficulty drawing top quality drawings because of the limitations of your CAD package we will not grant you any leeway in grading. If you can't produce visually appealing drawings with your CAD package you are going to be getting low grades and insistence on redoes of the work from us until you can. At this point, with the exception of Rhino, it is very difficult to torture the major 3D packages into doing good 2D drawings. Frankly given the very low price of an educational license for Rhino, especially given that it is a full working version and can continue to be used after you graduate, it is difficult to see why anyone would want to use any other CAD software.
If you wish to design entirely on screen using CAD, we would suggest that you take our "Computer Assisted Design Course", which teaches the Rhino package. Once you have become expert in the use of Rhino you can tackle the main YDS curriculum in yacht and small craft naval architecture. If you are well versed in other CAD packages, you may well be able to teach yourself Rhino and it will then be up to you to evaluate whether the quicker learning time provided by the "CAD Course" is cost effective for you. Back to top.
Should I take the “Computer Assisted Design Course” before, after, or during
taking the YDS main curriculum?
Starting both the study of yacht design and the study of CAD at the same time would mean learning two deep subjects simultaneously. You probably should take our “CAD Course” first and then continue with the main YDS curriculum. Having said that this is entirely up to the individual and some have started both simultaneously and made their own adjustments as to sequence as they went.
If you have a basic understanding of hull lines, however you acquired it, you should have no problem with the "CAD Course". If you don’t, you should read at least “Understanding Boat Design” by Edward S. Brewer or “Preliminary Design of Boats and Ships by Cyrus Hamlin. Either of these can be ordered through our Publishing Order Form. We don’t want to make a big thing out of this. We just mean that the "CAD Course" should preferably not be studied in total isolation from other sources of knowledge about yacht and small craft naval architecture as it is really not intended to teach yacht design per se but rather how to use this “tool” in yacht design.
I have a Bachelor of Science degree from a college that is supposed
to qualify me to practice as a naval architect but I don't seem to be able to get a job in
yacht or small commercial craft design. Would YDS be useful to me?
Yes, our course is often used as a post graduate degree in Naval Architecture with a Specialty in Yacht and Small Craft Design. University courses seem to not teach actual drafting and design skills. Nor do they seem to promote the development of judgment in using theory and calculations. They are more interested in simply teaching the underlying theory. They tend to assume that teaching the actual design process and practice of design will be left to your employers. Unfortunately employers are commonly not primarily interested in your grasp of theory. They are much more interested in whether you can actually draw boats and handle the calculations with confidence. In other words they are looking eagerly for professional school graduates not people with a "well rounded education". We stress drafting skills, judgment in use of the calculations and structural analysis formulae, and business and promotion skills to maximize employability. Back to top.
How do I get experience in dealing with clients while taking the
Frequently the tests allow you to develop boats of your choice. We are also flexible in allowing substitutions. This means that with prior permission you can have a friend who is a fellow sailor supply his or her set of requirements just as a regular client would. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with trying to fulfill a client's requirements. Also many of the assignments are phrased as requests from design clients. Since these are drawn from our personal experience they are at least some help in getting the feel for dealing with clients. Back to top.
Do students ever get work in the field before completing the course?
Actually it is, and probably always will be, most common for students to get work in the field long before completing the course. In fact the demand for our students has sometimes gotten extreme enough that some students are actually being hired on the basis that they have the knowledge to do at least something the firm needs on the assumption that they need to get them before someone else does and then push them to complete the course. It is also possible, and often happens, that a student may get a design commission before completing the course. We don't actually encourage this but the student who gets one may use it in the course and get extra help from us at no charge. Of course we have a number of students who are already practicing naval architects before they even start the course, but wish to acquire more advanced knowledge. Back to top.
How easy is it to get work in the field and eventually run my own
Most designers whom we talk to want us to refer draftsmen to them. Many builders, even fairly small ones, have their own drafting staff as well. The only real problem with the early stages of a design career is not finding job opportunities but rather that you may have to move frequently from job to job as work load varies at different firms.
There are very few people in the world who ever even express an interest in yacht design. In the entire world there probably are rarely more than 1000 people studying actively at any given time to be naval architects specializing in yacht and small craft design. If you take all the designers, living and dead, who ever lived, have designed reasonably good boats, and either have a surviving body of work or have contributed something to the profession, you come up with only around 750 designers. The number who are active today or whose work is being actively promoted is really fairly small. In such a small field it is quite easy for a determined person to work hard and find a niche in which they can stand out and prosper. When starting out there always seems to be work for good yacht draftsmen except in the middle of a recession in the area of the world you are working in. To successfully compete is mostly a matter of working hard, taking time to build up your business, drawing a lot, promotion, and remembering that your ultimate product is the customer's happiness. Back to top.
what extent is naval architecture a men only club?
The highly individualistic nature of most yacht designers may make acceptance of women easier than any similar technical field. We have never heard an expression of resistance to women becoming designers and draftsmen from any designer or design firm. We have a small number of female students and always have had. Similarly there have always been a small number of women working in yacht design. It is our belief that any endeavor which cuts out half the human race is going to suffer for it. We encourage women to take the course and become naval architects. We would also urge brothers, husbands, sons, and fathers to encourage the women in their lives to pursue naval architecture if they have an interest. Yachting tends to become ridiculously testosterone charged at times for no good reason. More women designing boats would probably help us achieve better design traditions. Back to top.
Where do naval
It used to be that there was a fair amount of justification for designers living in big city areas where communications were easier with well-to-do clients. Fortunately nowadays there is little benefit to living in high cost areas. Communications via the Internet, phone and fax are highly satisfactory. People love to find their designers living in beautiful small coastal towns in relatively inexpensive areas. Remember, you never see most of your clients, so there is little advantage in living in a high traffic, high cost area. Back to top.
kind of designs are most often requested?
1. Ones too large for the customer to afford.
2. Once with too many features to pack into the requested size.
3. Overly complicated ones.
4. Ones with features incompatible with the chosen service. (Mostly commonly overly shoal boats for offshore use.)
5. Ones that sacrifice good performance to chase fashions that are confused with technological advances.
6. Ones that sacrifice appearance and investment value to ill conceived fashion.
7. Ones for production boat builders who refuse to commit to even minimally safe scantlings.
The above may seem cynical. However, it does stress that a great deal of the designer's job is educational. In other words your promotional material must constantly try to lead people to suitable boats with which they will actually be happy.
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limits are there on where the lessons can be sent and are there extra shipping charges?
We have students all over the planet Earth. Unless the student wishes to pay extra we now find it most cost effective for the student for us to send all lesson materials as email attachments, which can be printed out if desired. If you are in orbit around Earth and have a good Internet connection we can accommodate you! We do not expect to be able to offer lessons elsewhere in the solar system for some time.
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I attend another school, which will not help me with remedial math, must I
switch to your school?
While we would be delighted to have you, if you are otherwise happy with your current school, we would be happy to test you and put together an inexpensive remedial math course that will make sure you can do the work at your present school.
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I attend another school and my instructor says that my drafting isn't good
enough, that they don’t teach drafting, and I should go take a drafting course.
Can you help?
Yes, we can help and we are the best ones to do so since marine drafting is very different from drawing machine parts or houses, which is what you are likely to get in community college courses. Since we teach drafting from scratch, starting right at the beginning of our curriculum, and are really trying to make you very good at it your best bet is probably to take the Lessons of our YDS curriculum up through Lesson 7. This is actually more than seven lessons because as the course has evolved we have expanded and divided lessons. Of course these lessons teach a lot more than drafting. And this amounts to quite an investment in study beyond just drafting, however it does mean that you will have most of the skills of an entry level draftsman and we will give you all the help that you need.
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I attend another school and for part of my training they require me to use CAD,
but they don't actually teach CAD. Can you help?
Yes, what you should take is our "CAD Course". This will teach you the in depth use of Rhinoceros(r), commonly known as "Rhino", the most popular CAD package in yacht and small craft naval architecture and construction. We also can supply you with full working copies of Rhino under a special low cost educational license, which allows you to use the package professionally after completing the course. Rhino is the only program we know of which you can use for essentially the entire process of design up to and including producing beautiful working drawings and, with the aid of Rhino's "Flamingo" rendering plug-in you can even do beautiful photorealistic renderings for promotion purposes. For technical illustrations you can use the "Penguin" rendering plug in and you can even do animations using the "Bongo" plug-in. Rhino and its plug-ins are essentially a complete CAD design office in a box. To this we have now added the ability to learn Finite Element Analysis, through the "Scan&Solve(tm)" plug-in for Rhino. All in all we have a very complete system of instruction in CAD.
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Will you teach structural analysis and structural design to a student of another
school, or a practicing designer who never got this training?
Unfortunately many never get adequate training in the basics of materials science and structural analysis. We believe quite strongly in sticking to conventional materials science and conventional structural analysis practices. Unfortunately we cannot reconcile some practices taught elsewhere with these conventions. Some students at other schools and practicing designers have asked us for advice on obtaining a better grounding in these areas. There are two ways to go. It is quite possible to take some courses at a college of engineering in basic materials science and structural analysis. There are even ways for a really good self starting student to take these courses at major institutions for free, through online auditing. We would caution that it can sometimes be difficult for the student to know how to apply this information properly to boats, which are an unusual case in many ways. For those who would prefer to study these disciplines from the first from the point of view of how they apply to vessels and their components and equipment, we would be happy work up a separate curriculum of several lessons, based on several standard engineering texts and material from our main YDS curriculum, which will give you a good basic grounding in these areas.
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answer my questions if I'm taking a competing course?
We often get students at competing schools contacting us about areas in which they have found that the curriculum they are taking does not appear to be preparing them well. Sometimes we can reassure them. Sometimes we can suggest ways to fill in with courses from local universities or other institutions. Sometimes of course we suggest taking some of our curriculum. There is usually a way to fill in the gaps economically. However beyond advising on how to get the best education in the most cost effective manner, starting where you are, we cannot really work with you helping you with your lessons at other schools. We do a lot for students of other schools, but since general question answering and advice is something we do free for our students and build the cost of this into our cost structure, answering questions for students at other schools would raise the costs and therefore the prices paid by our own students and that wouldn't be fair. We are a prosperous school with plenty of students. You can trust us to not be "selling" you in an attempt to gain more students.
OK for a practicing yacht designer to attend your school?
Yes, certainly. While you will be likely to go a bit faster than some of our other students, in all other respects you are treated just like any other student. We normally have several practicing designers taking our curriculum to fill out and expand their knowledge. We have also in the past taught special advanced courses on particular subjects to groups of practicing designers who wanted more knowledge of particular areas. Back to top.
Do you teach multihulls?
Despite what you might think virtually everything we teach applies to both monohulls and multihulls. There are some special structural questions with multihulls that are considered later in our curriculum and a few questions as to appropriate rigs but aside from that those specially interested in multihulls normally simply choose them as solutions to the design problems set in the lessons wherever a monohull is not specifically requested and we critique them as to their suitability and execution of the calculations, drawings, and thought in just the same detail. Back to top.
May I just order all the lessons and not bother with taking the tests or getting
No you may not. Occasionally people don’t want to bother with doing the work with each lesson, but you can’t really learn this material without doing the work and having it evaluated by experienced instructors. Some have even told us that they would pay for the whole course if we just sent them the lessons and a diploma. However this would not be fair. At present every level in our course that you pass gives you great credibility in the industry because people know that we really require people to know the material and be able to apply the knowledge practically before they can go on. If we were to just give out these materials and diplomas to anyone who would pay for them, they would be valueless as a measure of competence. This would cheat those who have worked so hard to learn the material in these lessons.
Further if people design boats without in depth training it is not just they who suffer the consequences. If one's training has not been properly evaluated, cross checked, and directed into the correct paths by experienced designers, people who bought the resulting designs would also “suffer the consequences”. The consequences of inadequate design can be, and often are, the loss of both boat and crew. Without feedback on how well a student is doing in their studies I don’t see how they can expect to design really great boats.
We don’t say that there have not been autodidactic polymaths who have been successful in the industry. However both they and those carefully taking courses and handing in assignments didn’t get to the point where they were good designers by avoiding the tough stuff. Rather they worked hard, doing a great deal of drawing and studying, and consulted with others continuously.
We see our mission as increasing the average level of knowledge of designers in the world by turning out the best trained yacht and small craft naval architects possible. In as deep and subtle a study as yacht and small craft naval architecture this really requires quite a lot of work even though the work is not particularly difficult. Traditionally training has not been as high quality as it can and should be.
We do intend, at some point, to sell a two volume reference book which will contain all the basic formulas and methods required by a professional designer. However, even when that is available it will only be fully useful to someone who has studied yacht design in depth. Just looking up a formula will not give you the judgment to use it properly. Further, understanding individual small parts of the subject may result in falling into error through not being able to integrate all the knowledge properly. For instance people very often believe that a lower number of square feet of wetted surface between two boats will always result in less frictional drag. You need to study all the interrelated factors quite a bit before you find that actual area of wetted surface is pretty far down the list of factors that affect frictional resistance.
In light of all this I’m afraid the only way to get all the lesson materials is to take the whole course.
isn't Yacht Design School advertised in the boating magazines?
Before we started YDS we referred potential students who contacted us asking about an education in yacht design to Yacht Design Institute. When YDI was sold to a maritime academy, its distance learning portion was shut down. The new owners expected to have entirely residential students. We felt, correctly, that a purely residential program would not work and that distance learning opportunities were important. Since we already had people coming to us for help in learning yacht design, we simply formalized the lessons, drawing our curriculum from our own knowledge, our own research, and our rather extensive library. At first each student had such different questions and problems that we re-wrote lessons to address student needs practically with every student. This took enough time in those days that we were in no hurry to add more students. As the lessons became more standardized and needed less revision more and more students signed up. There seemed little need to advertise. Eventually the number of inquiries reached the point where information about the school had to be made available to the public to cut down on the time answering questions. Therefore in 1997 we put up a web site with in depth information about the school, what we taught, and how we operated. From that point on the increase in the size of the school has been such that it is all we can do train sufficient staff to our level of expertise to keep the lesson correcting up to date, do additional research, and add new material to the curriculum as we develop it. Word of mouth, recommendations from design firms and other students, plus the web site has been enough to bring us all the students we can handle.
Advertising in the major boating magazines would at least double the cost of tuition. Since we already get the maximum number of students and rate of growth that we can handle, keeping the cost down for the students was the best way to go. Since our primary motivation is to raise the level of education in our industry, while making sure everyone can afford to get the best education available, keeping the school inexpensive seems appropriate.
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