A new federal survey by the Congressional Research Service is looking into whether the federal government should mandate the creation of marine engineering engineers.
The CRS report, released Wednesday, calls on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue a mandate for the creation and hiring of engineers with specialized skills in marine engines and marine propulsion.
The agency could use the data to determine which federal agencies are adequately equipped to support marine engineers.
The CRS suggests NOAA should issue a request for proposals, similar to those used for federal procurement for the National Institutes of Health, to create marine engineering teams.
The government currently spends roughly $400 million per year for the training of engineers to help protect coastal communities from the coronavirus pandemic.
The report recommends that the government create an independent, civilian advisory committee to investigate how well the agencies’ marine engineering training is working.
The report also recommends the creation a national task force to examine the effects of the coronovirus pandemics on marine engineers, the types of technologies needed to help marine engineers adapt, and how best to use NOAA’s expertise.
“These are all important and necessary questions,” said CRS President Mark Perry.
“The current Marine Engineering Training Center, designed to train marine engineers for the future, is outdated, understaffed, underfunded, and lacks capacity to meet its mission.”
A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that marine engineers are less likely to be able to effectively communicate with customers and customers to better understand how the pandemic is affecting the industry, and less likely than other professions to report problems with their work.
The academy found that fewer than 10 percent of marine engineers were able to provide feedback to management on their work and that those who did reported more difficulty communicating.
The current NOAA Marine Engineering Center is located at the Marine Research Center, in Portsmouth, Ohio.
It was created in 2007 to provide support to marine engineers and marine powertrain engineers, but it is expected to lose funding this year, due to the cost of the pandemically-induced coronaviruses.
The proposed NOAA mandate could help the agency retain its funding for the center, which currently employs about 500 people.
Perry said the proposed mandate would not necessarily impact the center’s current workforce of nearly 600 employees.
The study is the first step in the process of creating a marine engineering task force.
The task force would be tasked with developing recommendations to the NOAA and Congress for improving the state of marine propulsion engineering training.
The study suggests creating a dedicated task force of engineers who have expertise in marine propulsion technologies to develop and implement strategies to increase marine propulsion training for marine engineers in order to increase the number of qualified engineers for marine propulsion work.
The task force is expected in late 2019.