Lower Thames Street in downtown Newport is home to the International Yacht Restoration School of Technologies & Trades (IYRS), a school founded to teach students how to build and restore wooden sailboats. In the past 10 years, IYRS has added accredited courses in composites technologies, digital modeling and fabrication, and marine systems to its curriculum. Now the school and Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport have an educational partnership agreement (EPA) that will focus on projects that support the U.S. Navy.
Last year, Division Newport’s Technology Transfer Manager Valerie Larkin and an IYRS administrator discussed a potential collaboration between the trade school and the warfare center, after a brief meeting about science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Larkin toured IYRS facilities in downtown Newport, but the prospect of a collaboration between the school and NUWC remained in the discussion phase.
When engineer Christian Schumacher, who works in Division Newport’s Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, attended an IYRS open house in September, the potential partnership was reinvigorated. In early December, the EPA with Division Newport and IYRS was signed.
“I always thought IYRS was an interesting school, and when I bought a boat, I was advised to look into their programs,” Schumacher said. “At their open house, I met their instructors as well as IYRS president Jay Coogan, and we started talking about their curriculum. That’s when I realized that there were certain aspects of their composites work that could benefit NUWC, and soon we were talking about partnerships, and I was able to put them in touch with our Technology Partnerships Office. I’m interested to see where this partnership will go.”
IYRS takes great care in preparing their post-secondary students for careers with a successful external internship program, Coogan said. This EPA would bolster these opportunities by allowing Division Newport engineers and scientists to act as student advisors and for IYRS students to be able to work on Division Newport projects. An EPA would also allow Division Newport to loan equipment or provide excess equipment to IYRS.
“Mostly, the EPAs are used to provide NUWC expertise to universities or colleges,” Larkin said. “EPAs allow students to benefit from the expertise at federal laboratories. Also, these agreements help us develop our future workforce. It’s a great opportunity for STEM outreach.”
Coogan is excited to activate this partnership and for IYRS students to visit Division Newport.
“I believe both organizations can benefit from the collaboration based on the problem-solving and technical skills we both incorporate into our work,” Coogan said. “We look forward to seeing where this relationship will take us.”
Division Newport currently maintains 42 EPAs; 75% are with colleges and universities, while the remaining 25% are with elementary and high school systems, primarily for STEM outreach.