Studying in a Floating Classroom for a Life at Sea
Deep inside the ship named Golden Bear, it is hot -- and the engines are noisy. But Vasile Tudoran loves what he is doing here. VASILE TUDORAN: "I knew I wanted to fix stuff since I was a little kid." Vasile Tudoran is a mechanical engineering student at the California Maritime Academy. Most of the Academy's students are required to receive training on this ship. Teacher Robert Jackson says this gives them the "hands on" experience that businesses want. ROBERT JACKSON: "I would say the majority of our students have between one to two job offers before they graduate. Most of those job offers are between $60 and $120,000. Our students have such a broad knowledge they can go anywhere." He says students get jobs working on ships, with electric power centers or satellite companies. The academy has only about 900 students. About 94 percent of them get a job after their studies are completed. Andrew Di Tucci says he and other students know they must follow the Academy's rules. ANDREW DI TUCCI: "It's not like your normal college experience would be. We're a paramilitary school, we have uniforms, we have formations -- just disciplining yourself to show up and keep grooming standards and be where you need to be, and sit down, buckle your belt, and study." The students carry heavy responsibilities on the ship and homework for their classes. BILL SCHMID: "Ship's officers are kind of like your surgeon or your airplane pilot - you don't want them to be right only 70 percent of the time. We pretty much have to be right all the time. That's a hard thing to teach young people -- that there's zero tolerance for mistakes." Andrew Di Tucci loves life at sea. ANDREW DI TUCCI: "My favorite thing about it is waking up every morning and seeing nothing but the ocean on all sides of you. I get a thrill out of that." Feeling that excitement -- and eventually getting paid for it -- is what influences these students. I'm Shirley Griffith.