IBEW Helps Maritime School Provide High-Tech Education


January 22, 2014


A screen shot from the maritime virtual reality simulator currently being installed at Maritime Academy of Toledo.
Photo credit: VSTEP

It’s an innovative idea in education – a maritime-trade focused school for students in the 5th to 12th grades.


In addition to the standard curriculum of math, English, science and social studies, students at the Maritime Academy of Toledo (a state-recognized public charter school) take classes in nautical traditions and seamanship, earning graduates a certification from the U.S. Coast Guard and a congressional recommendation to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. 

To give students a realistic experience steering vessels through waterways and ports without leaving shore, the school wanted to install a high-tech, virtual reality simulator center, including a radar room and a fully-working bridge.


Netherlands-based VSTEP, a European developer of virtual training software, agreed to provide the maritime simulator at a discount. But the academy had a limited budget, making acquiring the state-of-the-art equipment – totaling more than $1 million – prohibitive.

That’s when Toledo Local 8 and Carpenters Union Local 351 stepped up to help make it happen.   

The IBEW donated approximately 100 man-hours to install and wire the equipment, and more than $5,000 worth of electrical parts and supplies.

Signatory contractor Tas Electric also pitched in, helping the school acquire the necessary city permits for the work.

Local 8 Business Manager Joe Cousino said that he admires the school’s mission and wanted to give something back to the community.

“We’re part of this community and want to help institutions like the Maritime Academy provide the best education and experience for our young people,” he said. 

The first phase of the simulator construction is expected to be completed by February. Cousino said he expects Local 8 and IBEW contractors to return for the next step in the job. 

“I express my deepest gratitude and appreciation, and sincerest thanks to the skilled union carpenters of Local 351 and Local 8 workers,” academy President Renee Marazon told the Toledo Blade.