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Maine Community College System

News Release
WCCC Boatbuilding Program Retools for New Era

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 9, 2004
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

CALAIS, Me. — Washington County Community College (WCCC) in Calais is breathing new life into its Marine Technology Center and its well-known boatbuilding program in Eastport. After a year's hiatus, the boatbuilding program — with a revamped curriculum and pledges of support from the marine industry—is now accepting applications for fall 2005.

The program — known as The Boat School — was suspended for review last spring due to low enrollment. College officials spent the summer and fall evaluating the curriculum, meeting with industry representatives, and polling the needs of marine employers.

"We heard loud and clear from Maine's marine employers that there is an acute need for skilled boat builders and those working on marine systems," said WCCC President Bill Cassidy. "We're excited to bring the program back, more invigorated, and building a stronger alliance with industry," he said. "The marine industry is a vital part of Maine's heritage and our economy, and we're committed to working in partnership with them to help build a workforce for the future," said Cassidy.

As a result of discussions with industry representatives, the college has broadened the program curriculum from its focus on traditional wooden boat building to encompass wooden, fiberglass and composite boat construction, and related marine systems. The college is also launching an aggressive recruitment drive, and a fundraising effort for scholarships and program equipment.

As a result of discussions with industry representatives, college officials are exploring ways to bring marine workshops and courses to the mid-coast region, in closer proximity to many Maine boat yards. The college is also working with the Department of Labor and Maine Marine Trades Association to establish an apprenticeship program and deliver it in other regions of the state via live classes and distance education mediums. The apprenticeship program grants college credits for on-the-job training, to help entry-level workers attain the skills and credentials for career advancement.

With an aging workforce, industry and college leaders hope the revamped program— and a closer partnership between the college and marine employers — will help the industry enlarge its workforce for the future. The marine industry currently employs roughly 5,000 workers — at least half of those in boatbuilding and restoration. There are approximately 250 boatbuilding companies in Maine.

The program was originally launched in 1969 at what was then Washington County Vocational Technical Institute. For over thirty years, the program has provided graduates for hundreds of Maine boat yards and other marine employers, including The Hinckley Company, WoodenBoat School and others.

While Maine is home to several boat building schools, the WCCC program is the only public higher education program, and offers the lowest tuition in Maine. The cost averages about $2,600 a year.

In addition to a revamped boatbuilding program, physical improvements are being made to the Marine Technology Center — located on Deep Cove in Eastport — including door and window replacements, a new heating system, and other energy efficiency measures. The center includes a fully functional pier and dock system, spacious shops, a state-of-the-art Computer Aided Drafting Lab, a 60-ton travel lift, a multi-purpose fishing vessel and other equipment. In addition to the boatbuilding program, the center houses the Adventure Recreation and Tourism program.

Those interested in the program should contact the college at 1-800-210-6932 (in Maine) or 207-454-1049, or via email at