Marine engineering is that field of engineering which deals with the engineering of boats, ships, oil rigs and other marine vessels by applying concepts from mechanical, electric, electronic engineering and computer sciences. Marine engineers maintain the operations of watercraft propulsions, onboard systems and oceanographic technology. They also work in engine departments of cargo vessels, dredges, offshore supply and drill ships, oil tankers and passenger ships.

Marine engineers are also responsible for installation, operation and maintenance of equipment and machinery on all sea vessels. The design and construction of everything from small yachts to submarines are done as a result of the collaborative efforts of naval architects and marine engineers. Steering and control, propulsion, mechanical and electrical systems on board are designed by marine engineers. Their work also supports key activities in naval defence, environmental research, trade and extraction of resources.

There have been a few interesting advancements in the field of marine engineering:

  • Shipbuilding Robotics: The incorporation of robotic technologies into shipbuilding helps prevent workers from exposing themselves to danger and completing tasks that may be potentially hazardous like welding, blasting and heavy lifting. In this day and age, there’s also an increased shortage of skilled labour and this is where robotics offers a unique solution.
  • Ballast Free Ship Design: At present, the ballast water disposal concept discharges non-native species leading to ecological imbalances. A proposed concept which is still in its experimental and developmental stage is ballast free ship design. In a ballast-free ship design, a series of longitudinal pipes causes a continuous flow of local sea water preventing cross-contamination.
  • LNG Fuelled Engines: An alternate fuel for ships now rising in popularity due to its environment-friendly nature is LNG and as a result, the market of ship engines fuelled by LNG has an emerging market.
  • Integrated Electric Propulsion: An arrangement where gas turbines, diesel generators or both generate three-phase electricity to power the motors that turn water jets/propellers, is called Integrated Electric Propulsion. It discards the use of mechanical transmission and uses electrical transmission instead, thus eliminating the use of clutches and gearboxes.
  • Waste Heat Recovery System: Exhaust gas waste heat is utilised to generate steam which can be used to fuel oil, heating the cargo area, accommodation and a wide range of other uses. Although this technology is already in use, efforts in research focus on making it even more effective.
  • Growth of Sensor Technology: When all machinery on ships are connected to sensors, accurate real-time information can be obtained on machine conditions and hence, there is no need to check it manually. It can guarantee the most efficient operations on ships if calibrated correctly.

Marine Engineering in India

Bachelor’s and Master’s level courses for Marine Engineering are available in Indian Universities like NIT Rourkela, IIT Kharagpur and Coimbatore Marine College.

Students aspiring to pursue a career as a marine engineer should possess a good technical background in engineering activities and they must enjoy operating machinery. There are medical health standards that must be met and eyesight and colour vision tests to see if a candidate can cope with the physical demands as a marine engineer at sea. The ability to be a teamplayer as well as accept responsibility when required are essential attributes for those looking to work as marine engineers.

Future Prospects

Newly graduated marine engineers can look for career options in any of these sectors:

Shipping firms | Navy | Shipyards | Engine manufacturing companies | Ship construction firms | Ship design firms | Maritime universities | Research institution