Whittier Tech launches new marine technology pathway

Sep. 24—HAVERHILL — Whittier Tech, which includes students from Greater Newburyport, is expanding its educational offerings with the launch of a marine technology pathway. The new endeavor marks the 23rd career pathway the school offers.

The program was approved over the summer by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Only three other vocational high schools in the state offer a marine technology program and they are on the South Shore and Cape Cod.

"We have a real need in the area for marine service between the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, Seacoast and everything in between," Vocational Coordinator Paul Moskevitz said. "Our instructor, Mike Murray, has worked extremely hard to get the program running. This program brings even more opportunities to Whittier students."

Students in the Class of 2026 will be the first to be able to pursue Whittier Tech's new program. Currently, 306 ninth-graders are participating in Whittier Tech's Exploratory Program and will select a trade pathway in January.

During the marine technology rotation, students are learning the parts of a boat, the concept of buoyancy, annual boat maintenance and replacing water pumps.

"I really like my experience in the Exploratory Program, so far, especially here in marine tech," said freshman Argelis Vargas of Haverhill. "It's hands on. I am not stuck in a classroom learning."

Whittier Tech was awarded a $181,778 Skills Capital Grant to fund the new program. With the funding, Whittier purchased a Parker boat, Yamaha WaveRunner and a Sea-Doo GTR for student learning; Yamaha outboards for student training; and a new ventilation system for engine exhaust.

Students who choose to pursue the pathway will learn how to operate, maintain, repair, rebuild and install onboard systems, as well as hull maintenance and repair, marine canvas fabrication and repair, gas and diesel engine operation and repair, and welding and precision metal fabrication.

They also will earn relevant certification, learn how to operate a boat safely, and obtain their boating license. Students will have the opportunity to earn their captain's license during their senior year, according to school officials.

Whittier Tech has offered marine service technology through its Adult Evening Education Program since summer 2021 with support from the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association and donations from Yamaha.

The program has trained three classes of unemployed or underemployed workers for entry-level jobs. All graduates left the program having passed the Yamaha certificate test and earning an introduction to outboard systems certificate.

The recreational boating industry in Massachusetts has an economic impact of $4.4 billion and employs more than 20,000 men and women. There is, however, a substantial workforce shortage in the industry, both in Massachusetts and nationwide, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

"The marine industry has ample opportunities," Superintendent Maureen Lynch said. "We hope to connect students to these many well-paying jobs and career opportunities available through our new program.

"Expanding this program to daytime students was a collaborative effort by faculty, community partners, and so many more," she added. "We thank everyone who made the introduction of this new pathway possible."

Dave Rogers is the editor of the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

Dave Rogers is the editor of the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.