Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland chairs industry coalition to support K-12 Maritime Education and Maritime Career Awareness

In April 2008, the Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) sponsored a conference titled “Maritime and Intermodal Education for Primary and Secondary Schools in America – Onboard to a Future Career.†The event was well attended and well received.  Proceedings from this conference are available at

The conference brought government agencies, private industry, individuals, and academia together, all with a common interest of promoting maritime awareness in the country and introducing K-12 students to the rewarding careers and successful future the marine industry can offer.  One of the outcomes was the universal desire by attendees to continue the momentum the conference sparked.

The Honorable Elijah Cummings, 7th District Maryland, was the keynote speaker. With a maritime high school located in his district, Congressman Cummings is a strong proponent of maritime education as a way to encourage urban students to graduate high school, continue with maritime studies, and obtain a gratifying career with the marine industry.  

Presently, no one agency has any responsibility for K-12 maritime education.  To keep the conference’s momentum going and connections made between the existing maritime schools and their supporters, Congressman Cummings has formed and is chairing the Maritime for Primary and Secondary Education Coalition (MPSEC). The Coalition’s motto is Shinning the Light on Maritime Education.

The Coalition’s Objectives, Goals and Structure are as follows:


Maritime education and careers offer a unique educational opportunity to underserved students in America’s urban cities to explore our Nation’s rich maritime heritage and to follow a path to high school graduation and a career in the marine/maritime community.  The Coalition will foster the development of maritime education in our Nation’s primary and secondary schools. This will be accomplished through a network of local, state and federal agencies, private employers, maritime associations, maritime institutions of higher education and other interested partners. The Maritime for Primary and Secondary Education Coalition (MPSEC) will work with its Coalition partners to develop outreach programs for primary education and specific courses for secondary schools.


1) Advise with development of new schools and programs
    2) Unite industry, government and educators on a regional basis
    3) Foster conferences and meetings to promote maritime education
    4) Develop specific course material for primary and secondary school programs
    5) Develop outreach programs for primary schools
6) Collect and disseminate existing materials to schools
7) Develop an electronic database (warehouse) of maritime educational material
    8) Establish a web site to connect members and share information


The Coalition will have a chairman and a steering committee.  This group will set specific goals and objectives to meet the needs and requirements of primary and secondary maritime schools based on their educational requirements.

The members of the Coalition will be made up of maritime associations, private and federal maritime industry employers, institutions of higher maritime education, maritime museums, primary and secondary schools, and is open to any individual or group that shares in the belief of the value of maritime education.


Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland 7th Congressional District
Chairman, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation

Advisory Board:

Ms. Katharine M. Oliver
Assistant State Superintendent – Career Technology and Adult Education
    Maryland State Department of Education

    Captain Richard D. Stewart, PhD
Associate Professor, Director Transportation and Logistics Research Center
    University of Wisconsin Superior

    Captain Arthur H. Sulzer, USN-Ret
    Maritime Education and Training Committee
    Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP)

    Maritime Administration (MARAD)
    U.S. Department of Transportation

The Coalition has moved forward with its partner organizations to develop the tools to expand maritime education.  During the summer of 2008, at workshops sponsored by SOCP and MARAD and attended by educators and industry, a four-year high school program of study was developed. This is available at the web sites of SOCP, MARAD and the Coalition.

The program of study was a fist step. To be useful to schools, the recommended courses need to be developed.  Coalition members took it upon themselves to write the first in a series of courses, the introductory course, titled “Introduction to General Maritime Studies and Careersâ€.  The course will expose students to all sectors of the maritime industry through lecture, guest speakers and field trips. They will also learn about how to prepare themselves for a career and about the various academic paths they need to travel after they graduate from school.  The course may be completed in a semester or over the entire year and is appropriate for all grade levels in high school.

The course development was completed in January 2009, and it is presently being field tested in high schools around the country.  The course will be reviewed this summer, revisions made based on feed back, and will be available to any school to use in September 2009.

The Coalition is presently evaluating the development of the next course in the series “Introduction to Maritime Skills.† This course is hands-on classes designed to introduce students to the entry level skills required in the industry for the deck, engine and stewards departments.

How you can help:

Become a member of the Coalition.  Go to the web site and log in as a member.  There are categories for individuals, agencies, schools and companies.  Describe your company or background, provide a link to your web site, and let the schools know how you are prepared to assist them.

MPSEC – Shining the light on maritime education, providing a path for students to a maritime career and rewarding future.

By Professional Mariner Staff