Where students get the best of both worlds – with a boost from ABB

2014-09-01 - The floating university “Semester at Sea” combines study and travel. Equipped with ABB turbochargers, the education program's MV Explorer sails safely and reliably to 10 or more countries in about 100 days. This year, Semester at Sea is celebrating a half-century of helping kids discover their world.
Semester at Sea's MV Explorer, pictured here in Cuba, is outfitted with ABB turbochargers, known for their reliability
Students know the dilemma: They want to complete their studies quickly, but they also want to see something of the world. The solution for many is called “Semester at Sea,” where they can move their studies to a ship and simultaneously explore the world.

The non-profit organization that runs it - in conjunction with a sponsorship from the University of Virginia - calls its school ship “the coolest campus on earth”.

The MV Explorer - complete with a student union, a 9,000-volume library and ABB turbochargers below deck - sets sail three times a year with up to 720 students on board. Since 1964, 60,000 alumni have enjoyed the Semester at Sea experience.

The next trip, planned for spring 2015, is a voyage around the world, starting in San Diego, Calif. From there, the ship goes to Hawaii, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, India, around the South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and via Ghana to Morocco.

ABB Turbocharging helps ship stay on course, schedule

After 112 days, 16 cities and 12 countries later, the students disembark in Southampton, England. With a schedule like this, it’s important that the 12-year-old vessel keeps its course and schedule.

To guarantee reliability, the MV Explorer is equipped with Wärtsilä 9LW46 diesel engines turbo-charged with TPL77-A30s from ABB Turbocharging.

The ABB turbocharger model aboard Semester at Sea's Explorer
“The W46 line of Wärtsilä engines coupled with ABB’s TPL-A line of turbocharger are both a proven and reliable configuration," said Tomas Lorentz, Global Cruise Line Manager at ABB Turbo­charging in Miramar, Fla. "Having four of these power units on the MV Explorer also guarantees a high degree of redundancy."

Two hundred crew members accompany every voyage. They’re more than service providers. “Crew members,” Semester at Sea says, “typically originate from more than twenty countries and are an important component of the overall learning experience during the voyage.”

Learning about offshore issues

Semester at Sea is a global study-abroad program operated by the non-profit Institute for Shipboard Education in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Semester at Sea offers up to 75 courses across several disciplines of study. Learning aboard ship is very similar to studying on dry land. The Semester at Sea courses are fully accredited and meet the generally accepted standards for transfer – students benefit from credits earned at their home institution. About two-thirds of the courses are offered on every voyage, while the remaining third is unique to the voyage.

The detailed route, the lecturers and the content of the courses are fine-tuned for each voyage itinerary. A stopover in Scotland, for instance, brings science and engineering students and their lecturers to the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

ABB projects on the schedule

They’ll also visit the nearby Whitelee Wind Farm, the largest in the U.K., with a total of 215 turbines and generating capacity of more than 500 megawatts located just outside Glasgow.

It’s here, incidentally, where ABB installed and commissioned equipment that ensures the facility adheres to the strict grid codes imposed by the transmission system operator.

This academic field trip, with ABB technology helping provide the backdrop, is used to discuss offshore and onshore wind energy issues. On summer voyages to the Mediterranean, the World Literature course focuses mostly on literature from the nations along the route.