Robert “Lincoln” Hull
President, Apprentice Student Association
Marine Electrician Apprentice
There aren’t many career opportunities like that of the BIW Apprentice School. Even a national search might discover only a handful of employers that combine rigorous STEM education, exposure to high level cross discipline business operations, and craftsman quality training in a trade. At the end of the program, the apprentice graduate is well rounded and fills the need for the most rare and sought after type of job applicant in the economy: that of the college graduate with actual work experience.
I began my shipbuilding career in 2016, not as a shipboard mechanic, but in the Planning Department. There in that team we attempted to organize the one billion piece puzzle that makes up a Navy Destroyer, break it down into smaller daily tasks, and schedule the construction. It wasn’t long before I heard great things about the BIW Apprentice School, and eventually made a close friend who was a graduate himself. I waited a few years while a similar program for Planning was being discussed, but in 2019 decided the allure of working with my hands in the electrical trade, and the prestige of the program was enough reason to apply to the fall opening. The BIW Apprentice School will have me rotate through different locations and jobs in the shipyard over the course of four years, gaining more understanding and skills along the way. The first two years will include weekly Maine Maritime Academy certified college courses in mathematics, electricity and engineering, paid as part of our normal work week, and the final two years will be intensive trade-skill building as we get closer to the culmination of the program.
This second semester is just the beginning, and I see the makings of greatness in each of my apprenticeship peers. Every day we hone a craft, educate ourselves, support our families and communities, and reach for our bright future in Maine. The ultimate goal for many of us may differ, with some choosing to specialize in their trade, take on leadership roles in production, or gain a foothold in Engineering and Design. For myself, it’s still early to decide from these possible outcomes, but I will certainly stay at this shipyard, and certainly work at whatever level is needed to keep it as a cornerstone of the State of Maine and the Navy. This opportunity for all of us is thanks to the challenge and stability that the BIW Apprenticeship Program provides.
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