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Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering


Get your ship together.


Look out at the sea and the myriad of white ships gracing it. Watch in awe as they cut through the sapphire water, plumes of white froth billowing around their pointed prows. Such power. Such beauty. Surely these mighty vessels sprang forth fully formed from the brow of Neptune himself?

Er…no, not exactly. Ships don't just spring forth from brows. They're actually designed and built by extremely clever (and, not to brag, but also good-looking) people called naval architects.

Do you have what it takes to be one of these clever, good-looking naval architects? Well…

Are you the kind of person who loves ships? Boats? Dinghys? Rafts? Zodiacs? The Batboat? Then naval architecture might be the right major for you.

If you were one of those people creating new and amazing vehicles with your Legos when you were a kid and that desire has never slowed down in the slightest, you could find a home here.

The perfect naval architect is someone who combines a love of boats with a love of building, though probably not literally. Trying to sell big companies on Lego-made shipping vessels is not going to work out. Actually, maybe they will. Maybe that's the next big thing. We don't know. We're not naval architects.

What might surprise you is how important ships still are. Sure, they're no longer the cutting-edge technology they used to be, and they haven't really been since airplanes became a thing. And sure, in the old days, people probably thought we'd be shipping with lasers or UFOs or something. The people of the '50s would be so disappointed in how 2015 actually is.

Ships are still really important, mostly because of a little thing called gravity. You can put a lot more in a ship because you can make a much bigger ship.

This means that a good deal of the world's commerce is on ships, and has been for hundreds of years. The difference is, the ships of today are true behemoths that would make Neptune weep for the future of his kingdom. Seriously, they are that big. There are ships built to carry other container ships. That sounds made up.

The point of all this is that there's still a huge market for people who design and build ships. This doesn't look like it's anything that's going to stop soon. Ships fall under the heading of "not broken, don't fix."

So if you love ships, and you want to make a living with them, this is your dream major. You get to figure out better and more elegant ways of getting over water. It's not just shipping, either. Rich people have their yachts, fisher(wo)men need something to catch and store their haul in, and the military has been known to like a boat or two.

You have options, and all of them are nautical. You're going to be happy as a clam.

Famous People who majored in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

  • David K. Brown, British Deputy Chief Naval Architect

  • Arthur Charles Kerr-Trimmer, World War I veteran

  • Irina Konstantinova-Bontemps, Bulgarian Olympic sailor

  • Leslie Geary, Seattle-based competitive sailing vessel designer

  • Uffa Fox, English sailor, boat designer, and eccentric

Percentage of US students who major in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering:


Stats obtained from this source.