FARMINGTON – It’s funny where a good education will take you.
Dylan Carlton, of Farmington, graduated from the Landing School in Arundel on June 21. He leaves the school, which has produced several internationally-known boat builders, after completing the 10-month composites program and learning about some of the best methods and materials in the business. He leaves for Alaska soon, having accepted one of three job offers he received.
However, Carlton says he may never have gotten involved with boat building at all, if it hadn’t been for the classes he took with John McDonald at the Foster Regional Applied Technology Center.
“It didn’t have to be boats,” he said. “It could have been anything.”
McDonald runs the FRATC’s composites program, and Carlton took his pre-engineering course not once, but twice. McDonald is perhaps best known for his electric car projects, where students construct a small, solar-powered vehicle from the ground up. The program has taken McDonald as far as Nicaragua, where small villages are trying to incorporate solar power into their own infrastructure.
Carlton said that McDonald’s class gave him an interest in composites, which led to boat building.
“[The class] was awesome,” he said. “If I wasn’t with McDonald I wouldn’t be here, doing this.”
Carlton said that he became interested in boat building because it basically came down to problem solving, an aspect of engineering that he particularly enjoyed. He was assisted by becoming one of 14 Maine residents who earned a North Star Alliance Initiative Education Award. NSAI, which was created in 2006 by Governor John Baldacci, uses a combination of private and public resources to support the marine industry.
The scholarship program that Carlton benefited from is part of NSAI’s workforce development program and provides a financial award to individuals seeking to attain skills that will prepare them to enter the marine industry. The Education Awards are for people who intend to pursue careers in state in specialties like boat building and composite manufacturing.
One of the requirements of the scholarship is that the individual plan on returning to Maine to work for a local company, which Carlton says he eventually plans to do after his stint in Alaska.
“It’s great,” he said, speaking of his upcoming move north. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”
And he’ll be well prepared once he gets there. The Landing School, the first nationally accredited boat building school, trains people in four major disciplines; boat construction, yacht design, marine systems and composites.
Carlton graduated from the composites program, which is generally considered to be the most intensive and difficult of the four. Students learn about new materials and then test them in the laboratory and through the construction process. Carlton is going forward with some of world’s most advanced techniques in modern boat building.
It’s been a journey, which started in FRATC with John McDonald’s pre-engineering course and ended with Carlton receiving a diploma in composites from the Landing School.
“It feels great,” Carlton said. “Nothing else like it.”