Rhode Island’s International School of Technology and Trades (formerly the International Yacht Restoration School, still referred to as IYRS, pronounced “iris”), recently announced a new nine-month training program, Digital Modeling & Fabrication, to prepare students for boatbuilding careers in 3D modeling and computer-aided manufacturing.
The initial focus of IYRS, located on Newport Harbor and founded in 1993 by yachtswoman Elizabeth Meyer, was solely on the restoration of classic wooden boats, and over time some construction of new boats, such as Beetle Cats. The school’s mission statement also has expanded to provide “experiential education” to enter a global and manufacturing workplace, in nonmarine industries such as furniture making. That necessitated incorporating composites technology and marine systems, taught mostly at the school’s second campus facility, in Bristol, Rhode Island.
The nine courses that make up Digital Modeling & Fabrication include all basic materials: wood, composites, plastic, and metal. Students learn essential modeling tools using Solidworks software, principles of design, laser scanning, and CNC machining—essentially taking a project from concept to completed material object. Unlike students in the School of Boatbuilding & Restoration, who learn to loft a lines plan full scale on the shop floor, DM&F students employ a computer. According to school literature, “Students will be introduced to various additive manufacturing tool interfaces and will be able to demonstrate the skills necessary to operate a suite of additive technologies tools. Tools will include: powder printing, stereo lithography, FDM (fused deposition modeling), polyjet printing, and laser sintering. Finally, students will receive theoretical, technical, and hands-on experience with do-it-yourself ‘tinkerer’ technologies such as light electronics, sensors, data and user-friendly circuit boards such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.”
Josh Singer, marketing specialist for IYRS, said the school is working with several consultants in developing curricula, and expects at least one new faculty hire, and retention of adjunct instructors and an equipment technician in addition to currently employed teachers. Enrollment in DM&F will be capped at 24 the first year; Singer said the school’s goal is to eventually have 200 students on campus, and that the four principal programs will not operate in isolation from one another but profit from “cross-collaboration.”
Coincident with the introduction of the DM&F program is construction of a new 20,000-sq-ft (1,860m2) building on Spring Wharf, next to the primary facility, an 1831 stone building that once housed the Newport Steam Factory. The $6–$7 million project will incorporate classroom and shop space not only for DM&F but also for the composites and systems programs, which will be moved from Bristol.
Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, IYRS boasts impressive relationships with many outstanding educational institutions in New England, including Harvard University, Rhode Island School of Design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Roger Williams University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and branches of the Armed Forces. Current staff number 15, with Bob Lacovara as Director of Education. Lacovara is well known in the boatbuilding industry for his 20 years with the American Composites Manufacturers Association and as founder of Convergent Composites.
IYRS is now accepting applications for the first DM&F, which begins September 17. Tuition for the full-time nine-month program including shop fees is $20,360. As IYRS is a nonprofit organization, students qualify for federal financial aid as well as the GI Bill; some scholarships based on need and merit may be available.
IYRS, 449 Thames St., Newport, RI 02840 and 253 Franklin St., Bristol, RI 02809 USA, tel. 401–848–5777, website iyrs.edu.