San Diego, Calif. – A unique certification program is preparing students for a career in commercial diving with underwater training along the Port of San Diego’s Working Waterfront.
National University Polytechnic Institute and the Port of San Diego’s Maritime Operations Department have partnered to provide a real-life training ground for the Institute’s Professional Certificate in Marine Technology.
“The goal of our program is to train commercial divers for employment in a wide range of interesting industries,” said Bill Hyder, General Manager of the National University Polytechnic Institute. “We are the only school in Southern California to offer a certificate in commercial diving.”
Graduates of the program are qualified to work for diving companies that perform an array of essential services, including: servicing nuclear facilities; conducting bridge inspections; working on oil rigs; performing underwater welding; doing repairs below the waterline on ships and vessels; and working for law enforcement in water rescues or recoveries.
Instructor Steven Hentze, a former Naval Construction Battalion Diver, is one of five instructors at the helm of the eight-month program.
The first two months of the program feature in-class instruction at the Institute’s state-of-the-art campus in Kearny Mesa. During the third month, the students get their feet wet – literally – by jumping into a 44,000-gallon, 15-foot-deep dive tank at the campus for hands-on training. And by the fourth month, the students begin diving into San Diego Bay at the Port’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
Hyder said he looked at other locations in Southern California, but San Diego offered the best conditions both on land and in the water.
“The Port’s Crosby Street Pier meets all of our requirements for training,” said Hyder. The University rents pier space from the Port of San Diego.
“Thanks to our partnership with the Port, our students now have a ‘real-life’ classroom experience,” said Hyder.
Commercial divers need to learn the trade in limited visibility, so the real-life conditions at the pier make it an ideal setting for training. At times, visibility in the bay water is limited to just two-feet.
“This isn’t a pool. The conditions are exactly what the students will be experiencing in their careers,” said Hentze.
Approximately 80 percent of the students are military Veterans.
“It’s a very easy transition for Veterans to enroll into this course and get financial aid,” said Navy Veteran Jesse Clark, one of the program’s students
Originally from the East Coast, Clark’s military service brought him to San Diego, and he hopes that once he finishes his coursework, he can find a job and stay in San Diego. “This is my home. I want to stay here if I can,” he said.
Jonathan McGee moved to San Diego from Arizona just to take the eight-month course. “I’m a copper welder and I wanted to take my skills to the next level,” McGee said.
“A lot of companies come to us, looking for our graduates,” said Hyder. “Some of them don’t even have to look for a job – the jobs are waiting for them once they complete their certification.”
The Port and National University Polytechnic Institute have a three-year agreement for the program at the marine terminal.
About National University Polytechnic Institute
Originally founded in 1967 as a professional diving school, National University Polytechnic Institute offers high-quality educational programs in technical fields designed to prepare graduates for today’s competitive job market. At National University Polytechnic Institute, students are prepared with the highest quality of training to become a commercial diver. Students in the commercial dive program have access to state-of-the-art classrooms and a 44,000-gallon, 15-foot deep dive tank at the Institute’s campus in Kearny Mesa, as well as pier-side diving in San Diego Harbor and open water dives onboard a 67-foot dive boat, the Outer Limits. The Institute’s program opens doorways for graduates who wish to become among an elite few who make their living in one of the world’s most exciting careers.
About the Port
The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest of the 11 ports in California. It was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested millions of dollars in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego.
The port oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 20 public parks, the Harbor Police Department and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.
The Port of San Diego is an economic engine, an environmental steward of San Diego Bay and the surrounding tidelands, and a provider of community services and public safety.
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