Worlds Colliding: Composites & Systems

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By Mike Armbruster, Student Ambassador for Marine Systems 

The Marine Systems class has finally finished up a long grueling 2 months of electric. Our sim mock up panels all fully functional, and our certification test is behind us, we all looked forward to what was next.

We arrived at class Monday morning and all gathered in the classroom as usual on any given day. Our instructors then briefed us on the FRP part of the course or “fiberglass repair.” What? What do composites have to do with systems? Well duh not every boat is made of wood, in fact mostly all boats manufactured today are fiberglass. It got me thinking, oh how much composites really does play a big role in our specific field.

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One of the gracious things about the line of work we will be going into is custom work. Anything from patching in a through hole to making a custom box you need to laminate onto the already existing fiberglass hull of the boat. 

For example, lets say you needed to create a custom wooden shelf to mount something to the hull of the boat down in the bilge area. Once you created said shelf you will need to fiberglass it onto the hull, making it look like it came from the factory that way. 

Through Holes: holes below the water line of a boat that either let out air conditioning condensation or refrigeration, or allow water to flow outside of the boat

A through hole as I mentioned earlier are holes, below the boats water line that let out air conditioning condensation or refrigeration, or anything that puts off water that need to leave the boat, will run through a line and be drained into the water. Well these through holes believe it or not do go bad, and to replace them involves taking it out completely, so you have a open hole in the boat and then patching said open hole with epoxy and fiberglass. Then the part I am not too fond about is drilling a new hole in the customers boat. Yes, who in their right mind would drill a hole in a boat right? Well it is in fact part of the job sometimes even as goofy as it sounds. When you get your hole drilled you then must do patch work with the epoxy and fiberglass again and make it all look pretty pretty. 

Another neat project we will be doing is creating a back panel to cover our AC electrical components which is an ABYC standard if anyone was wondering. A part of the course I have found quite interesting so far in the fact the amount of different, cools things you can do with composites. Its nice to get a schooling on a entirely different course here at IYRS as well which makes you open your eyes to more then just Marine Systems.

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The composite teachers are both very good teachers and have taught us quite a bit in the past few days learning the wonders and magic of composites. It proves fun to be able to interact with other students as well sharing knowledge about different concepts or ideas. Just another exciting eventful educational day at IYRS.