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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Day 4 - Sport, Plagiarism and Shipping Revolutions.

This morning we had a "Succeed@Solent" talk given by Solent's 'Academic Skills Developer'.  He reminded us that in the modern world of internet and wikipedia, avoiding plagiarism is incredibly important.  Solent has a lot of resources we can access to help us reference properly (using the Harvard method), write reports or essays, answer the question properly, research and much more.  I'm sure not all of this will be of use, but some of it will be invaluable.  Following this we had a lecture on the sports and recreation facilities available to us.  These were, in theme with everything so far, extensive.  Whether it's general gym or wellness classes, to full on watersports, it is covered.  The prices were extremely reasonable, especially for the sailing bits, where they were half or a third of normal prices.

One hour of the early afternoon was spent doing an hour of running and this time headed south passing some beautiful scenery and ending up on what I think was called Brownwich Beach.  This totalled between 7.5 and 8 miles so quite a good stretch.

We then had another lecture named 'Marine Challenges' by Simon Daniels, Senior Lecturer at Warsash.  This was more of an overview of why this is the most exciting time to be in the marine industry for two hundred years.  In brief (and to my limited understanding!), due to increased global warming, the North Western Passage is becoming more clear of ice.  This in time will become a navigable shipping route that will save massive mileage and thus fuel, consumables, and overally ££/$$.  It will also make the area ready for the minerals, and all useful to us, to be extracted from that area.  Thus, the area will be very valuable.  There will no doubt be arguments as to who the area will belong to.  Contenders will be America, Canada, and Russia apparently.  Russia's argument is that this is an extension of the existing ocean shelf they have so they have claim.  This is a good argument.  Howver, Canada can argue that they have surrounding population already in the area (Inuits), and this is also compelling.  Americam I'm not sure.  Of course it will be a lot more convenient for American ships to be able to take this route from Alaska to the Eastern Seaboard, than the longer alternative.  However, aside from the obvious claim arguments, there will be very strict rules as to conservation of the area, thus they don't want a million ships coming through polluting the area etc.  Also ships will have to be able to actually navigate the remaining ice and thin channels (this is all what I understand to be the case). This will call for much greater technological advancement needed of the ships passing through.  Thus exciting times, as apparently there haven't been many major advances needed in shipping in modern times (well for 200 years).  It was interesting and it only left me thinking: Is the cost of pollution really factored into all this trade we do?  Especially when we consider the following two facts: 1) Over 90% of the world's trade is carried by the international shipping industry. 2) In the UK, over 90% of Britain's imports come via shipping. 

One more statistic of the day that interests me is that when things are booming, a shipping company can make up to 300% profit! 

The day was finished off by a blinding sunset showing lots of reds within the clouds (see photos).


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Day 3 - Tom goes to Solent University Campus

Today we didn't have to wear any uniform, which was good considering we were heading over to Solent Uni campus for a tour and look at real Southampton.  We were crammed into a coach which took us over to the Solent campus.  I do mean crammed; the seats must have been modelled on children.  The guy sitting next to me (who was about 6 foot) had to put his legs in the aisle as he couldn't actually fit in the seat.  What I hoped to get out of today was finding out about climbing in Southampton, but I was none the wiser after our rather drole campus tour.  Our tour guide was a rather enthusiastic young man who went in to a bit too much detail about almost everything.  I think he may have thought we'd not seen the light of day for a few years.  He showed us many a bookshelf in the library, and also took us into a small lecture theatre to describe what happened in the room full of seats all facing the same way. I was left rather perplexed about where he thought we'd come from.  Once the tour was over we headed into Southampton and mooched around the town before negotiating buses to head back to the academy.

The evening was spent having a fight with my printer. Printer: 2, me: 0.  I will try and win tomorrow.  Found out some info on climbing too, so onwards and upwards...

Day 2

So, day two kicked off with an inspirational lecture of "A Career At Sea" by Barry Sadler.  He is a Southampton unrestricted pilot, meaning he can pilot any sized ship into Southampton - this is a serious position of responsibility as they literally back enormous ships into there.  He went to sea in 1985 and then became a pilot after many years sea service.  He painted what he described as an honest picture of what working at sea was like.  This was an upbeat and positive hour where we learned of the best and the worst of sea life from his perspective.  He worked as a Deck Officer so not 100% accurate of an Engineer's job, but still helpful to gain perspective.  The one thing he said which really stuck with me is that what we are doing now is learning to be Engineering Officers; learning to do the actual job, not learning to get a certificate.  Another theme from today is that as much as hardwork is important, relaxing is important too. 

Following this inspirational talk, we had the Maths Test/"Assessment".  This was, rather surprisingly, not like the maths paper I had expected, but a multiple choice paper.  Most questions were a case of four possible answers with three being correct and one being false.  We had to identify the false in each case.  This really meant you had to work them all out to check and be safe.  I found the test ok, but I only just finished in the last minute.  Slow manual speed I guess, but I was being very thorough with checking as it's easy to be tricked with the answers.  Not sure when we find out the results on that.  Hopefully on Thursday.  The results will determine who needs extra 'Maths Clinic' every week. 

 Other bits included a lecture from our course tutor on what the course actually covered and what we would need to do in the long run to work up to chief engineer.  One of the key things we learned was that due to the course being a degree course, it would give us full MCA exemptions for 2nd Engineer and Chief tickets later.  This basically means that we don't need to come back to do very long periods of study to go up to the next levels once we are ready.  It saves time and money.  We also had brief library and IT inductions that afternoon.  Oh, and we got given timetables for group one and group two, but we don't know until Thursday what group we are in, so not a huge amount of use.  What we do know is that we have two full days a week of workshop practical training.  I relish the thought of that.

We had some spare time in the afternoon so Chris and I managed to take time out to go for a run off campus.  We headed north up the river and the scenery running up there is great.  There are boats absolutely everywhere, and it wasn't long before we reached a marina with even more boats layed up for winter.  It was good to be outside and away from the campus, as although it's good as they go, it's also very small, so running free for a while felt great.  The evening was enjoyable, with a great risotto I had for dinner followed by a seriously long pub quiz in the bar.  It must have taken about two hours and included 8 rounds!  Luckily I drank slow...I don't think everyone did.

Monday, 25 January 2010

It is time!

At last, it has begun.  Last night I arrived at Warsash feeling nervous but excited about what was in store for me.  My only dread was of that initial feeling of being lost before a routine kicks in.  Accomodation is a reasonably small shared room with a bunk bed, a sink, drawers, wardrobe, and an inredible view that looks out over the Hamble (see sunset photo).  The view was lucky, as the people that have the otherside look over the paved campus and it's not that exciting.  The campus is small, but with some great buildings, good views, and good facilities.  In the evening after we'd unpacked roughly, entertainment was layed on in the form of a live band at the bar.  They did some good covers and we had a good night to kick things off.

Today went reasonably slowly with a lot of time being spent going through rules and regulations, a tour of the campus, and getting familiarised with how things work here.  The 'muster' this morning was at 8:15am to check everyone was present and this was great for me as I didn't have to wake up until 7am, plus no commute into work!  Shortly after waking up I looked into the breakfast scene.  You're allowed three items plus unlimited drinks and the choice is vast.  I had a full cooked breakfast, cereal, banana, coffee and fruit juice.  I felt fairly stuffed after all that!  Food is very good (done by ARAMARK) and they are very open to discussion and suggestion on foods and the running of the bar etc.  I made the suggestion of guest ales in the bar which they are looking into.  I think it is something everyone would quite like.

Anyway, Maths exam tomorrow so need to study last three items not done, then go for a run and go to bed.  I've put some photos on here of uniform and bits of the campus to give you an idea.

(Sunset from my room!)

Accomodation Block

Chris - my room-mate