Admissions - Making the Grade: Mass. Maritime Academy
Photo courtesy of NECN
This week NECN's Steve Aveson visited MMA and got up close and personal with the 360 simulator. Here is what he had to say...
At Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, on this day, I’m joining a group of cadets in attempting to navigate a coast guard ship through a very congested Boston Harbor.
Everything seems real – the scenery, the weather, time of day, the current – and even the feeling that I’m moving with the waves.
To my right, a cadet is manning the radar, while in the back, a cadet is reviewing the navigational chart, all while I’m trying to maneuver past a container vessel.
Along the way, curve balls are thrown our way, such as a ship on fire, and Hurricane Sandy winds.
While it looks real and feels real, this experience was made by a 360 simulator. It's an invaluable learning tool for cadets at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, teaching them how to avoid possible disasters in the future.
"There may be failures radios, rudders, communication," Rear Admiral Richard Gurnon says.
Rear Admiral Gurnon is the president of Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He was instrumental in acquiring the simulator, which even master mariners from all over the world travel here to use.
"For us to take a $2 million Xbox 360 and to have students practice being on a variety of ships in different harbors around the world, it doesn't get better than this if you’re a mariner," Rear Admiral Gurnon says.
The simulator also helps mariners understand how previous accidents occurred. Remember the Costa Concordia disaster in January 2012? A team recently used this simulator to see why it partially sank off the coast of Italy, and that's not all.
"Think of the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez – one bad mistake. Think of a ship collision in Boston Harbor. Think of the emergency avoided by the investment in this piece of technology," Rear Admiral Gurnon says.
Back on deck, it's time to bring this coast guard ship to dock. Though I miss my mark, it's good to know these cadets took the mission seriously.
"Things actually depend on what you are doing here. People’s lives are in your hands," cadet Brian Sarapas says.
And that's why Massachusetts Maritime Academy is making the grade.