Daniel Weinstock earned his bachelor’s degree in nautical industrial technology from California Maritime Academy in 1984, and the alum has been a professor at Cal Maritime since 1996. A boater since elementary school, when his dad bought him an 11-and-a-half foot wooden skiff with a 5.5 hp Johnson, Weinstock has owned and worked on a long succession of boats, including a stint on an oil tanker. It was from that tanker, somewhere in the Middle East — this is after he earned a master’s degree in education from Dowling College in New York — that Weinstock applied for and earned the position of assistant professor at Cal Maritime.
Now a full professor, Weinstock shared his thoughts with Sea during an email interview.
SEA: How does CSUM differ from the rest of the Cal State system?
Weinstock: We are viewed as unique. We offer many classes where the students are challenged to apply the theory in real-world situations. We have at least five courses on the water where students learn to maneuver boats ranging in size from 26 feet all the way up to 63 feet. Additionally, we use a 500-foot ship, T/S Golden Bear, as a training platform. It is our floating laboratory. During the summer, the training ship goes on its annual training cruise. This is one of the places that our students learn the importance of understanding the underlying theory, as they are expected to apply theory to work through the many challenges one experiences while sailing through the oceans.
We have many classes where students are given the opportunity to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results. We have upward of 12 courses where these basic tenets of experiential learning are practiced. All students, regardless of program, are required to complete an industry-based co-op, and many students complete more. The experience enhances our hands-on approach to education, which aids our students to earn a career after graduation. In fact, we currently have the highest job placement rate and highest average starting salary of comparable programs throughout the CSU system.
We have visited, while aboard the training ship, many faraway ports and exotic places from Easter Island to Midway to the Aleutian Islands. The ship also transits the Panama Canal and sails up into the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and even the Mediterranean Sea. This year, our journey will take us through the Panama Canal, Barbados, Lisbon, Azores, Miami, and then Galveston. The opportunities that this presents to a college student are far reaching.
What’s the profile of a typical incoming CSUM student?
I’m not sure whether there is any one typical profile. Many students come here with no prior experience on the water, although many do have some connection to the water or the maritime industry. A majority of our students are from California, yet we have students from Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. Our current student body is approximately a 65/35 split, male-to-female ratio. All of our students are members of our Corps of Cadets, something else that distinguishes us from other CSU campuses. All students (or cadets) wear uniforms during the day, gather for morning formation and stand a variety of “watches” throughout campus.
Is there a major or two that is most popular with students?
The marine transportation and marine engineering degrees (both U.S. Coast Guard licensed) are popular. The School of Maritime Transportation, Logistics and Management is a newly formed school — one of three we have — that holds tremendous opportunities as a platform to educate students interested in the transportation of goods, whether domestic or through imports/exports. Cal Maritime has a very strong reputation with our facilities engineering technology, for shore-side power-station opportunities.
The School of Letters & Science also has a Global Studies & Maritime Affairs program for students seeking a position in government affairs. We hope to start a new program in oceanography in the fall 2020 semester.
What are the most common careers CSUM graduates pursue?
Graduates can work on and near the water. Those working on the water will utilize the United States Coast Guard license they earn while in the program. These students will sail aboard ships, tugboats, ferries, oil drill rigs and other seaborne craft. Many others will go into the shore-side industry. Some will work at ocean terminals, other will gain positions in a variety of supply-chain roles, including procurement, production planners, inventory specialists, transportation analysts and operations supervisors.
Are there any misperceptions around the term “merchant marine”?
Yes, the biggest misperception around the term “merchant mariner” is that we are in the military. We are not. However, in times of war many of us agree to sail aboard merchant vessels carrying military cargo in support of our military. We are the civilian “trucking” force that moves goods via the waterways, only we use floating vessels and not wheeled vehicles.