Engineering FAQs

Engineering FAQs

What is a US Coast Guard License?

The Merchant Marine is not an Armed Service, nor is it related to the US Marine Corps; rather, it is a name for the commercial shipping industry. It is similar in organization to the commercial airline industry. Just as commercial pilots have licenses issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, merchant mariners (usually just called "mariners") have licenses issued by the US Coast Guard. 

Deck officers in the Merchant Marine are called "mates." Their licenses progress from Third Mate, then to Second Mate, further to First Mate, and ultimately to Master. Deck licenses are also qualified by the size of vessel that a mate can serve aboard, and the waters over which the mate may navigate.

Engineering officers' licenses progress from Third Assistant Engineer, to Second Assistant Engineer, then to First Assistant Engineer, and ultimately to Chief Engineer. Their licenses are also qualified by the type(s) of main propulsion engine which they may operate, and the maximum horsepower they may operate.

To receive a license in conjunction with your studies at the Maritime College, you must (1) be a member of the regiment of cadets, (2) take specialized courses on ship operations, (3) complete three Summer Sea Terms, approximately six months in total, (4) demonstrate specific competencies, good character, and sound judgment, and (5) pass the US Coast Guard license examination prior to graduation. For more information on US Coast Guard Licenses visit the Coast Guard licensing web site. Licenses are granted in accordance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping, as amended in 1995.

How does the military relate to the SUNY Maritime Engineering Department?

In the military, an officer is to lead, and to do so by example. An officer must think analytically, have a sharp mind, and above all other things, be a problem solver. At SUNY Maritime, an Engineering degree enhances these tools. With a degree in Engineering the military officer will be able to apply concept to reality. From the fundamentals of operating a nuclear power plant, to the design of ships, and even the characteristics of flight, many students in the ROTC program pursue an education in Engineering for it assists in building the essential skills required of today’s leader.

The Engineering Department teaches active duty sailors through the Navy STA-21 Program (Seaman-to-Admiral), active duty Marines through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP), as well as students within the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and Merchant Marine Reserves programs. For more information, please visit the SUNY Maritime NROTC website.

What is Facilities Engineering?

Facilities Engineering is similar in theory to Marine Engineering and can be considered as the shore side component. However, there are significant differences and aspects of engineering that are unique to shore side applications, that make this major so viable. Facilities Engineering involves the entire infrastructure of shore side “power plants” commonly found in universities, medical centers, and various commercial buildings. Very often, these infrastructures can be self sustaining and include co-generation energy plants as well as typical high pressure steam/hot water and centralized chilled water plants.



The Facilities Engineer will become familiar with the engineering applications to successfully operate and maintain shore side power plants. In doing so the Facilities Engineer must develop leadership and management capabilities in order to become proficient in the operation of the shore side facility. In addition to classic engineering coursework in Thermodynamics, Fluids, Structures, and Electricity, the Facilities Engineering program also covers relevant course material in the following areas:



          • HVAC Design

          • Utility Rate Structure Analysis

          • Engineering Economics

          • Electrical Distribution Systems

          • Project Management

          • Basic Building Design

          • Automation and Building Management Systems

          • Engineering Codes and Standards

          • Central Chilled Water Plants

          • Energy Conservation



The Facilities Engineering curriculum strives to train engineers to compete and become successful in senior leadership positions in today’s facility industry. For more information please visit the Association for Facilities Engineering website.

What is the difference between Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering?

Naval architecture, marine engineering, and ocean engineering are related professions with applications to the marine industry. 

Naval architecture, one of the oldest branches of engineering, is concerned with the design of ships. Naval architecture is not the same as architecture; rather, naval architects design large moving vehicles that must float, remain upright, survive the rigors of the sea, move smoothly through the water at the desired speed, and complete the missions for which they were designed. Naval architects study structural mechanics, fluid mechanics, and many specialized courses concerning the stability, dynamics, and powering of ships.

Marine engineers use the information concerning the power requirements of a ship to select the main propulsion engine and auxiliary equipment for the vessel. A ship must be self sufficient, while providing all of the services one would expect to receive in a modern city: electrical power, ventilation with heating and air conditioning, fresh water, sewerage treatment, and fire protection. Marine engineers study many subjects contained in a mechanical engineering curriculum, together with significant material from electrical engineering and related areas.

Which major has the best employment opportunities?

Maritime College engineering graduates have had an enviable placement record over many decades, but  we are sorry that we cannot answer this question. All specialties have varying demand over time, and employment opportunities and salary levels thus vary as well.

We strongly suggest that you should choose a program based on the kind of work that you would like to do. A solid foundation in one of the engineering disciplines allows a graduate to do many different things in his or her career.