STAR Center's TECH Program achieved significant milestones in recent months as Emily Blake and Isaiah Moore earned their USCG Third Assistant Engineer/OICEW endorsements as the first female and first person of color apprentices to complete the program and begin their sailing careers with American Maritime Officers. The Engineering Candidate Hawsepipe (TECH) Program is a comprehensive two-year training program sponsored by AMO Plans for candidates who want to pursue seagoing careers with American Maritime Officers.
The TECH program was a key reason why STAR Center was recognized by MARAD with the 2021 Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE) designation.
Following an extensive application and evaluation process, Blake and Moore were each selected for the TECH Program based upon their overall merit in relation to other candidates. Their unique experiences and backgrounds showed they had the attitude, aptitude and work ethic to succeed as a seagoing AMO marine engineers and contribute to the overall goals of the TECH program. While in the program, they were each recognized individually for their technical knowledge and abilities during sea phases as apprentice engineers in training onboard AMO-contracted company vessels.
When asked about how the education and training received in the program prepared them for a career as seagoing marine engineers with AMO, they each had a unique perspective.
"The TECH Program emphasized hands-on experience, which is how I learn best. The curriculum focused on skills and knowledge that I would need on the job. I was able to apprentice on a variety of ships, learning the systems and operations of several companies in the fleet, and gaining perspective of the positions I was being trained to fill," Blake said. "The full mission simulator was an excellent way to practice emergency or unlikely scenarios in a controlled environment, and it was great practice being on watch and in control of the entire plant. Many of the instructors were either still working in the industry or recently retired, so they had current information and relatable stories."
Moore noted: "The TECH Program has provided me with not only the skills to be a good engineer, but it has helped me better myself as an individual. The program provided me much needed hands-on training along with theory to help me understand the topics and machinery I was learning about. I also feel that the instructors who take time out of their lives to help us become engineers provided us with a wealth of valuable insight and experience, both in engineering as well as leadership."
In completing the program and earning USCG Third A.E. OICEW endorsements through the TECH Program, STAR Center recognizes their significant achievements and is proud to support and promote diversity and inclusion in the maritime workforce.
"For potential candidates looking to apply, it is always motivating and welcoming to see diversity in a program like this. While I'm honored to be the first, I would have enjoyed knowing others of a similar complexion had also made it through the program," Moore said. "I hope that, as the first person of color to complete the program, I am able to help STAR Center pave the way in welcoming a more diverse group of individuals into the industry."
Blake also remarked on this groundbreaking achievement.
"It feels surreal to be able to say I am the 'first female' in anything. I grew up reading about and am grateful for all of the amazing women who faced adversity to pave the way for my generation," Blake said. "The fact is that there are still many firsts for women, especially in this industry. I am extremely proud to be able to fulfill this role, and hope that, as my career continues, and women become a norm in this industry, there are less and less 'firsts.'"
Each of them is planning on a long career with AMO.
"My career is just now beginning. What I like the most about this industry is getting to read, almost on a daily basis, about how we as an industry and union are expanding and how the possibilities for us as engineers are changing and growing. Recent events have taught me that it is impossible to predict what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that I am excited for a long and varied career as an engineer with AMO," Blake said.
Regarding his future plans, Moore said: "My long term career plans are to sail with AMO with the goal of retiring as a Chief Engineer with a successful career behind me. I would also like to return to STAR Center to teach the next generations of the TECH Program if the opportunity arises."
Each recently joined their first AMO ships under covered employment. Blake sailed onboard the Pohang Pioneer as third assistant engineer and Moore sailed onboard the tanker California as third assistant engineer.