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Naval gazing: ship design by the numbers


The Bachelor of Maritime Engineering was the perfect fit for Thomas Rehrmann, who wanted to combine his mathematical skill with a love of the water.

Launceston’s Thomas Rehrmann says he has always had a head for science and mathematics and knew for some time that he wanted to become an engineer. The only question was what kind of engineer.

That decision was made easier when he heard about the reputation of the Australian Maritime College (AMC) and its specialised facilities.

“The AMC was local for me, which helped, but also I had heard a lot of really positive firsthand comments about it from other people,” he says.

“And also, my brother-in-law did the Bachelor of Maritime Engineering degree five years before me, so that definitely factored in, as he also mentioned the great experience he had.”

Thomas’s love of the outdoors also influenced his decision to study a Bachelor of Maritime Engineering at the AMC. His skill and dedication earned him three awards when he graduated in 2021: University Medal - College of Science and Engineering, AMC Connell Medal – Gold, and AMC Captain Thomas Swanson Medal – Silver.

“I have a background in fishing and camping, so that drew me to the maritime area as well, because I spent a lot of time on the water growing up.

“So, when it came to picking which engineering degree I wanted to do, I wanted to make it maritime related.”

Born and raised in Launceston, Thomas went to Glen Dhu Primary School, Kings Meadows High School, and then Scotch Oakburn College, always with a focus on maths and science.

“Maths was always my strong point, I was always really good with numbers,” he says. “Then, when you start applying numbers to sciences like physics and chemistry, it becomes even more engaging because it goes from being theoretical to practical and real.”

And it could hardly be more real or practical than the work Thomas did with the various testing facilities at the AMC for his degree, majoring in Naval Architecture.

“I was primarily interested in ship design and the AMC is just the best place for that. All the things you learn in the classroom are tied directly into the practical experience of testing designs in the Towing Tank, Model Test Basin and other facilities.”

Thomas valued the experience of using these facilities so much that, after he graduated in 2021, he started working for the AMC as a graduate engineer in the Maritime Hydrodynamics Research Laboratory.

Now he works on maintaining, operating and improving the equipment, as well as assisting new generations of maritime engineering students.

“I did all my work experience with the staff in the Towing Tank, I developed a good relationship with them, they received some grants and needed an engineer to pair with it, and they chose me, which was brilliant.

“And I get to work with other students and help them the way other engineers helped me when I was studying. I’ve experienced these highs and lows of studying, the usual second-guessing about whether or not you’ve chosen the right career path.”

With more than 15,000 maritime engineering jobs expected to be created in Australia in the next 50 years, it is a growing sector with excellent employment prospects and future demand.

“I think it’s good to have people looking at me, just one year out of my degree, and with such positive things to say about it. And I can encourage them to push through if they’re finding it difficult.”

Find out where studying a Bachelor of Maritime Engineering at the Australian Maritime College can take you.