Outboard Marine Technology Making Waves
Outboard Marine Technology Students are all in the same boat.
Andrew Yemec, Will Wilson, and Keaton Gajewski with the Yamaha F250 engine donated by the Yamaha Motor Corporation.
Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) Outboard Marine Technology program recently began in 2019 yet is already “making waves” in the field. Yamaha Marine University, the program’s dedicated industry partner, has consistently praised the success of the HGTC program as a national training model, as well as the exemplary leadership of Professor Matt Springs. It comes as no surprise that with 100% job placement already in Horry and Georgetown counties, this unique program is now beginning to meet the needs of other areas and attracting students from other parts of the state.
Keaton Gajewski, Andrew Yemec, and Will Wilson are three of those students. All from the Bluffton area, they moved here to expressly attend the HGTC Outboard Marine Technology program. They have spent a lifetime on the water in Bluffton and readily agree that all three of them love fishing and boating. So, a career as an outboard marine technician is a natural fit for all of them. According to Keaton Gajewski, HGTC was their choice because “this was one of the only programs in the state with the benefits of receiving state tuition and staying close to home.”
While they only started the program in August, two weeks into it, they have already seen the benefits to their education and future careers. For Andrew Yemec, the part that has stood out the most to him is the ability to “work with my hands and learn new information about boats that I never knew before this program,” he said.
All three students admit they are not the kind that like to sit at a desk all day, so the experiential approach to the program is ideal. The three are also elated about learning from their professor, Matt Springs. They agree that Professor Springs “brings a lot to the table” based on his own career and expertise as a Yamaha Master technician. Professor Springs explained his approach as a way to share his experience especially his shortcomings and what he learned through trial and error. “I try to present a real-life scenario of what it will be like on the job,” Springs said.
The students also praised the benefits of the program’s strong partnership with Yamaha, the top outboard motor provider. They acknowledged that as technical students, they have direct access to the same Yamaha resources that dealers have. At the end of the program, they also have the opportunity to achieve not only the HGTC program certificate but also their Yamaha IOS and MCP technician certificates from Yamaha Marine Corporation’s Maintenance Certificate Program. These are industry certifications that follow the student as they negotiate their careers in the marine industry. According to Professor Springs, the certification attests to their ability to perform. “Anyone can teach how to complete the work, but it takes skill to perform to Yamaha standards to gain the proper certification that those outside this program would not have the chance to achieve,” he said.
The trio already has plans for what they will do with the knowledge and skills they receive from the Outboard Marine Technology program. Andrew Yemec is looking forward to getting a solid job at a marina. While he cannot say for sure right now, working toward that Yamaha Master Technician designation is a definite possibility. That of course would make Professors Springs very proud. “While I have not seen a student achieve that goal yet because our program is so new, I love thinking about the day when I am reading about someone I taught, in a Yamaha publication who is a new Master Technician. Will Wilson intends to go back to the Charleston and Beaufort area and focus on the goal of being a true mechanic one day. Andrew Yemec hopes his outboard marine skills will lead to a life of traveling, working, and fishing throughout South Florida, as well as the east and gulf coasts.
Professor Springs has all confidence in those career plans. “This is a small industry with plenty of contacts. Any of our students, no matter where they are from, should have no problem getting a job in the field they love. We have built a solid reputation with this program to give our students an abundance of opportunities,” said Springs.