For John Stauffer, associate vice chancellor and superintendent of maritime, one of his strategic goals when he started working at San Jacinto College four years ago was taking their incumbent learning program online.
"When I started, no one was doing U.S. Coast Guard-approved online learning courses," Stauffer said. "But I knew the audience was out there. Imagine working toward advancing your career and doing coursework while you are on a ship."
Stauffer and his team prepared the altered classroom model and made the pitch to the U.S. Coast Guard, who licenses and approves all 70 courses offered at the center. His request was denied, but he stayed hopeful that they could try again one day. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all classes at the San Jacinto College Maritime Training center had to stop.
"We knew this was our chance to bring our classes online," Stauffer said. "We submitted our same proposal again and received approval. Very few maritime training centers were able to pivot that quickly."
Stauffer plans to continue the online model for incumbent workers after seeing the reaction from industry.
"The response has been wonderful," Stauffer said. "We have had mariners enroll and take courses from Florida, Oregon, and Tennessee. We are still required to offer proctored exams, but they can be taken at any approved testing center."
About the Center
The San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center is a 45,000-square-foot, waterfront facility equipped with state-of-the-art bridge and engine room simulators facilitating more than 70 U.S. Coast Guard- and Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers-approved courses. The Maritime Technology and Training Center also offers Texas' only Associate of Applied Science degree in maritime transportation, combining USCG and STCW-approved training with college-level academics.