What is a Naval Architect?
A naval architect must be capable of engineering, designing, and problem solving. In general, naval architects are systems engineers that integrate electrical, mechanical, piping, and structural systems to develop vessels for the marine environment. Ships are among the most complicated manmade objects and require exceptional design and engineering to be successful.
A naval architect may design large cargo ships, high speed sailing and power vessels, cruise ships, naval combatants, or mega yachts. Naval architects in the offshore industry design offshore drilling platforms, massive floating wind turbines, and unique floating structures for a wide range of applications. Naval architects looking for something even more unique may find themselves working on underwater robotics, nuclear submarines, or autonomous sailing vessels. Naval Architecture is one of the most inclusive systems engineering degrees available.
The field of naval architecture embraces disciplines related to the design and analysis of floating vessels or structures, including hull form, arrangement, stability, structures, resistance, propulsion, and access. By contrast, marine engineering has to do with the vessel’s machinery and auxiliary systems, including main engines, generator sets, pumps, electrical systems, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. At the risk of greatly oversimplifying, consider everything inside the engine room as the domain of the marine engineer and everything else, including the size and location of the engine room, the domain of the naval architect.
The distinction between naval architecture and marine engineering is not clear-cut because the inherent nature of marine vessels requires that all components must be integrated functionally and spatially. In designing a building, an architect may rely on utilities to provide electrical, sewage, and water supplies. But a ship or yacht must be totally self-sufficient. The simple act of turning on a faucet involves several systems, including freshwater supply, wastewater disposal, and electrical generation for pumps and other equipment. All of these functions must be provided on a platform that can propel itself safely, comfortably, and efficiently in adverse weather. In addition, for certain vessels such as yachts, the vessel also has to look good.