Marine engineering includes the engineering of boats, ships, oil rigs and any other marine vessel or structure, as well as oceanographic or ocean engineering. Specifically, marine engineering is the discipline of applying engineering sciences, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, and computer science, to the development, design, operation and maintenance of watercraft propulsion and on-board systems and oceanographic technology. It includes but is not limited to power and propulsion plants, machinery, piping, automation and control systems for marine vehicles of any kind, such as surface ships and submarines.


Archimedes is traditionally regarded as the first marine engineer, having developed a number of marine engineering systems in antiquity. Modern marine engineering dates back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (early 1700s). In 1712 Thomas Newcomen, a blacksmith, created a steam powered engine to pump water out of mines. In 1807 Robert Fulton successfully used a steam engine to propel a vessel through the water. Fulton’s ship used the engine to power a small wooden paddle wheel as its propulsion system. The integration of steam engines into ships was the start of the marine engineering profession.Paddle wheel ships were the front runner of the industry for the next thirty years till the next type of propulsion came around. Only twelve years after Fulton’s Clermont had her first voyage, the Savannah marked the first sea voyage from America to Europe. Around 50 years later the steam powered paddle wheels had a peak with the creation of the Great Eastern, which was as big as one of the cargo ships of today, 700 feet in length, weighing 22,000 tons. The Great Eastern was said to be ahead of its time and was destined for failure. Since the 1800s there have been many improvements to the design of engines and propellers. The maritime industry holds 90% of all international trade.Marine engineers work on more than just engines in ships. Marine engineers are also responsible for building and maintaining offshore oil rigs. These oil rigs were first made by Henry L. Williams in 1896.

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