Seattle Maritime academy celebrates opening of innovative new building

More photos of Oct. 6 dedication ceremony in gallery below

A recently opened facility at Seattle Maritime Academy’s Ballard campus will benefit both students and the local maritime industry.

Maritime students and the Pacific Northwest maritime community now have access to an advanced training facility that will better train the next generation of mariners, thanks to the opening of a new instructional building at the Seattle Maritime Academy’s Ballard campus.

To celebrate the building’s opening, the academy hosted a dedication ceremony and tour for elected officials, community leaders, maritime industry representatives and college staff earlier this week. Seattle Central President Sheila Edwards Lange, Ph.D., christened the new building in true maritime tradition by breaking a champagne bottle against the entrance.

“This building provides important benefits to the maritime industry, a vital part of our regional economy,” Edwards Lange said. “We will be able to open doors to family-wage maritime jobs for more people in our community while creating a better-trained workforce for area companies and organizations.”

According to the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development, the maritime industry provides more than 22,000 jobs and contributes over $2.1 billion to the regional economy. Statewide, nearly 58,000 jobs and more than $15 billion is attributed to the industry, figures published in a Washington state economic impact study.

Built with state funds, the new, 24,000-square-foot building includes classrooms, a library, administrative offices and meeting space. A key element is an advanced simulation suite featuring full mission bridge and engine room simulators, which companies can rent to practice challenging scenarios with their staff under realistic conditions.

“In order for the maritime industry to thrive, companies need qualified workers to fill vital positions. This building, with its specialized simulation labs, will better train our students for job openings created by impending retirements of many current mariners,” Sarah Scherer, the academy’s director, said.

The new facility was also built sustainably, with the building’s design and construction following the rigorous standards of LEED Silver certification. It features a green roof to help improve air quality, provide green space and lower the building’s energy requirements.

Seattle Maritime Academy, part of Seattle Central College, has trained mariners at its Ballard campus, located on the Lake Washington Ship Canal near the Ballard Bridge, for more than 40 years. Its mission is to prepare the next generation of mariners to fill vital roles in commercial and passenger transportation, commercial fishing, deep-sea sailing and the workboat industry.

Its Coast Guard-approved one-year Marine Deck Technology and Marine Engineering Technology certificate programs provide a unique blend of classroom education, hands-on training and at-sea internship experiences. In addition to its formal programs, the academy provides professional development and training in a variety of maritime topics to private companies, government agencies, military units and unions. The academy will also launch continuing education programs for the recreational boating community.