Maritime software technology specialist Mintra is helping the next generation of young seafarers plot a course to career success after providing free access to online Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) courses.
The company has donated 40 ECDIS licences to City University of Applied Sciences Bremen, Germany to allow students to undertake coursework for their degrees in Ship Management and Nautical Sciences.
Covid-19 restrictions have forced the students to complete most of their learning this semester online, with a limited amount of time allowed for practical training on the university’s ECDIS simulator.
The licenses for online ECDIS – a nautical navigation system that complies with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations as an alternative to paper charts – enables the students to use the software at home to carry out tasks such as passage planning.
Mintra acquired the maritime digital training firm Safebridge earlier this year, and the ECDIS donation continues the long-standing relationship between the company and the university. Safebridge founder Professor Ralph Becker was at one time a lecturer there, and the company has supported online training for students for around 10 years.
Andri Anastasiou, Cyprus-based product assistant at Mintra, said it was essential that students’ learning of vitally important maritime skills was not compromised as a result of the global pandemic.
She said: “The overarching aim of our company is to give seafarers and personnel in other safety-critical industries the knowledge, understanding and skills that will keep them and their colleagues safe.
“ECDIS has dramatically enhanced navigational safety at sea, making it easier for navigating crews to pinpoint locations and set out directions in real time. But with over 900 different functions, ECDIS is also one of the most complex pieces of equipment on the bridge.
“Knowledge and experience in the use of ECDIS is essential for those who may be considering a career in the maritime sector, so we were delighted to be able to support the students in Bremen with their learning.”
Students on the degree course will consider a wide range of careers on graduation, including nautical officers on board, sea pilots, superintendents in shipping companies, and nautical equipment and software developers.
Dr Ilknur Colmorn, professor of maritime navigation and digitalisation at City University of Applied Sciences Bremen, said she and the students were extremely grateful to Mintra for the support during what has been an extremely challenging time for education.
“Our students spend three full days in presence of the ECDIS simulator for the practical exercises where we have the same ECDIS as Mintra has provided for online learning,” she said.
“We have been lucky that exceptions to the Covid-19 restrictions have enabled students to spend this time in the ECDIS simulator, but these courses from Mintra allow the students the flexibility to do exercises at home.
“They can go online at any time to, for example, check functions, do a passage plan, or refer in the ECDIS any questions they might have about the settings.
“Additionally, while I am teaching the theory part online, I can use Mintra’s ECDIS to demonstrate some functions that I refer to in the theory. This made the long online lectures much more attractive.”
Mintra is a leading supplier of manufacturer-approved type-specific ECDIS training courses with over 30,000 seafarers completing ECDIS courses with the company every year. ECDIS is just one of hundreds of eLearning courses covering technical, compliance, and personal skills that are provided by Mintra, with many created in-house by former seafarers with direct maritime experience.
Today, only little more than 1 per cent of the global seafaring workforce is female. Whilst this is an impressive 45 per cent