Maritime Transportation & Engineering

Distance Learning to Go the Distance: TAMUG Beta Test for Virtual Simulator Learning


Texas A&M University at Galveston recently served as the beta testing ground for remote simulator learning to ensure that not just cadets from the Texas A&M Maritime Academy are receiving the critical training they need to fulfill degree and licensure requirements, but so other cadets from state maritime academies could benefit too.

“We are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, MARAD and the university to ensure the best quality of education and meet the expectation of degree, licensing and credentials,” said Captain Augusta Roth, Galveston Campus Maritime Transportation Department Head.

“We are not going to reduce any of the requirements, just add a twist to delivery. If any knowledge, understanding or proficiency cannot be done via virtual interaction, we will revisit the subject or assessment once we are in person during our weekly forums or on cruises,” Roth further explained. 

Students undergo nearly 128 hours of mandatory vessel simulator training to learn how to safely navigate the world’s waterways. The training is required as part of their degree program at Texas A&M-Galveston and to receive their Coast Guard license.

Capt. Roth and Technical Laboratory Coordinator Patrick Zimmer approached Anthony Kunecki, president of NavSim Services, Inc., the company behind the campus’s simulator, in early March in response to the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

“The instructors are able to achieve nearly the same class session they normally would in person. They use Zoom to communicate with students and TeamViewer is used by the students to access the simulation exercises,” Kunecki explained.

Teamviewer is a third party software package that NavSim’s Vice President Bob Majewski loaded onto NavSim’s normal simulator system configuration setup. He said it had never been utilized in such a fashion. After installing TeamViewer Host on the Texas A&M-Galveston simulator computers via a virtual private network, he trained Zimmer on its use.

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of this process is that we’ve served as the testbed for the other state maritime academies to move to online training. The lessons we’ve learned with our partners at NavSim will benefit the other academies and make their transition to online training that much smoother,” Zimmer said. “Given the uniqueness of the challenges to overcome this semester, we have created an optimal solution given the circumstances and technology available to us.”

Since implementation at the Galveston Campus, the solution has now been extended to SUNY Maritime College.

Media Contact