Deck or Engineering

<p>Our son has been interested in attending the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) for the past 2 years. And has been recently disappointed that now he has to choose between majoring in engineering and being a deck officer. Apparently the USMMA no longer offers the option of majoring in engineering and receiving a deck officer license. And, we have been advised that it is tougher for people with engineering licenses to move into deck positions. This has caused him to seriously reconsider his desire to attend USMMA. </p>

<p>He loves math and science and has wanted to be an engineer or a physicist before he wanted to be a ships master. He is also a people person and through his extra curricular activities has shown leadership ability. Besides, after talking with people in the maritime industry he has decided that he definitely would prefer being a deck officer.</p>

<p>That being said, he also sees many advantages in attending USMMA. First, he is actually attracted to serving his country, but he has never been the type of person that wants to engage in combat. Second, he likes the approach that USMMA uses of sending people out on actual ships. Third, he feels that USSMA would be a better choice for after his career aboard ship. Almost to a person, the people in the maritime industry have said that careers aboard ship run 15 to 25 years. </p>

<p>Our son has indicated that he would be more interested in pursing graduate work and a second career as in a technical area. So now he is looking at SUNY Maritime. This is a tough decision for him. He will have his congressional interview for his appointment recommendation early in December. So we do not have much time. This is a tough decision--any advice?</p>

<p>Isn't it wonderful to have the whole world before you? KP is all above or below deck, with variations in the 2 major varieties. That's because of the various licensing strictures of the Coast Guard licensing. Personally, I believe that starting with a below deck engineering license is a real plus as you are a "real engineer" and can move on to become other things with graduate degrees. Of course, if you want to be a ship captain for life, go deckie. Just know that the career path is somewhat in flux these days as the US ship industry is going downhill as foreign ships take over, with the exception of coastal/river and some Gulf of Mexico drilling. If he gets into KP, go for it! If not, SUNY has great programs - we tried both. KP is more rigorous, but has a lot of political/fiscal issues these days. Long term, KP puts him in the reserves for a while, SUNY doesn't unless you sign up for NROTC or MMR. Graduating from either school, you end up working with grads of Maine, Mass, Cal, Great Lakes and Texas A&M at the same level on commercial ships.</p>