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For Immediate Release 04-36


Archived Testimonials

More of what our alumni have to say about Westlawn


 “So I got the results of my lesson 38 final exam/design thesis, and they were good. Funny how with one click on my e-mail inbox, I suddenly find out that I'm no longer a student, but now a graduate. I think it's going to take a while for it all to sink in . . .


It's been a long slog. A lot of hours, a lot of head scratching, a lot of tedious calculations, a lot of work learning CAD, which I had never used before. It's been a long slog, sure, but a manageable one. Take it incrementally, and it goes a lot easier. This stuff takes time. Not many schools of this caliber are self-paced, and give their students the luxury of taking as much time as they need to properly complete a lesson. So take your time . . . don't sweat it . . . and enjoy the learning process along the way.


. . . quite possibly the single most indispensible book, the one you cannot possibly complete the course without, is the Student Guide 2nd Edition [a technical reference manual for Westlawn students]. Over the duration of the course, I’ve been through the SG2 cover-to-cover no fewer than two dozen times. Probably more. Yet I can pick that book up today, flip to a random page, and learn something that I’ve never known before. Imagine all the knowledge inside Dave Gerr’s cranium, spilled out into a few hundred very information-dense pages. So read it once, read it three more times, read it a dozen more times after that. Then sleep with it if you must. The SG2 answered more of my questions than any other single source over the duration of the course . . .


About CAD . . .

I had no experience with CAD in any form when I enrolled in Westlawn. My computer experience was limited to Microsoft’s Office Suite, and a few oddball proprietary programs we used at the power plant where I worked. I consulted the Frey and Omura books mentioned in the SG2, as well as AutoCAD Professional Tips and Techniques, by Allen & Onstott, which I think I touted in another post. I used ProSurf for hull design and fairing, and that was a bit more onerous and time-consuming to get a handle on. But I just set aside the time to sit down with the owner’s manual and play around with it until I felt confident enough to submit a lesson with it.


I was able to get a good handle on CAD, and my point to the new students starting out, who might feel a little overwhelmed or daunted by the prospect of tackling CAD: if I can do it, then ANYBODY can. But it does take time and patience . . . and some old-fashioned stick-to-it-iveness. Take it incrementally . . .


One final thought:


Can anyone tell me of a better deal than the Westlawn course?


When I add up the cost of tuition, even including extensions, and consider what I got in return . . . . I think I just received the deal of a lifetime. I got to stay at home, keep my day job, correspond with fellow students and like-minded people from all over the globe . . . . all while learning from some of the world’s leading experts, at my own pace, a new craft that I love in a way only you people can understand.


Westlawn could triple or quadruple the cost of tuition, and it would still be by far the best deal around.”

Click here to read Chris O'Connor’s complete comments on Westlawn.

Christopher L. O'Connor

Port Towsend, WA – July 2009


Chris O’Connor graduated from Westlawn Institute with honors, attaining the highest grade on his design thesis awarded in the last eight years.


“I was offered a job at a fairly up & coming boatyard as overall projects manager (I supervise the individual project managers.) I also have quite a lot of input with product development and alterations including a new 65-ft. Ron Holland design. Coupled with a few hundred thousand sailing miles, it should be mentioned that it was the Westlawn schooling—helping me formalize any expertise I may have gathered over the years—that played a key part in helping me secure the job!!”

Cal Tomlinson – February 2007

Overall Project Manager

Discovery Yachts Limited

Southampton, England



 “Westlawn gave me the training, background and confidence to make the jump from a yacht carpenter to a yacht designer. I have worked as Chief Engineer at Mako Marine, designing flats boats to cabin cruisers, as the Designer and Prototype Manager for Pursuit, and have been at Jamestown Metal Marine Sales for the past 10 years.


I started in the marine industry 30 years ago, as a carpenter building plank-on-frame sport fishing yachts in South Florida. Today, I am a Project Engineer for a major outfitting company. Some of my projects include the SBX, part of our missile defense system, the DDG program at Bath, the new Woods Hole Ferry under construction at Halter, polar tankers constructed at Avondale, articulated tug barges under construction at Bender.


As a Project Engineer I supervise a staff of designers who have attended various institutions. None match the background and depth I got from Westlawn. I would like to find Westlawn students interested in ship interiors, outfitting, and/or HVAC to employ here at Jamestown.


The training I received Westlawn has been responsible for my career, not only the knowledge in vessel design, but also the work habits of self motivation and extra effort.


Has my Westlawn training been useful?


Yes, worth every penny, every hour of extra effort.”

Click here to read D.C. Reiher’s complete comments on Westlawn.

D. C. Reiher – November 2006

Project Engineer

Jamestown Metal Marine Sales, Inc.

Boca Raton, Florida



“Occasionally someone will ask, "How did you get into yacht design?”  It's not an easy question to answer to the layman as I'm sure your story and others are as detailed as mine.  One thing is sure, Westlawn provided me with the advanced knowledge and inspiration I needed to pursue career interests.  In hindsight, without the technical yacht design experience Westlawn taught me it would have difficult at best to even get a foot in the door.  This industry, especially then, is tight-nit and requires very specialized trades to participate.  Westlawn uses a practical approach to teaching and this is reflected in the course material.  It is a great tool for designing because of its practicality.  I use it quite often in my designs as there is no one resource that has as much information and tools available for that specific purpose.  The bonus is the historic designs and designers that are often referred to in the material.  All of these things are reasons why it is a valued yacht design reference.”

Geoff van Aller - February 2006

Chief Designer

Trinity Yachts

Gulfport, MS



“I wanted to let you know that I accepted Steve Van Dam's offer last Friday and have pretty much started working for Van Dam Marine. (Today when I opened the Van Dam Web Site and saw my name under designer it really sunk in). I say "pretty much" because it will still take a month or so for me to get up there on-site, but I have started off site from my office here. (As you may know I also received an offer from Glacier Bay Catamarans at the same time.)


So what can I say except I couldn't have done it without you, Stu and the rest of the gang back at Westlawn. I'm very excited about what the future holds, and hopefully this is a testimonial to other students that all the hard work and long nights pays off, if you stick with it.


I can't thank you enough and—as I always have said in the past—I won't forget you, and Westlawn and I hope I'm called on whenever you or the school needs my help. I will always be there for Westlawn.”

Harvey Kulka – November 2005

Yacht Designer

Van Dam Woodcraft

Boyne City, MI



“Since I have added Yacht Design Lite* to my resume I have had several job offers from different companies and even a promotion with the company I am employed with now. If any one is wondering if it would be beneficial to complete the program, I would say YES.”

*[The Yacht Design Lite course is now called Elements of Technical Boat Design]

Charles Bursk – November 2005

Tiara Yachts

Holland Michigan



“I have enjoyed the Westlawn course enormously. It’s an excellent program that I know you are working hard to make even better. When I look back and think about how little I know about yacht design when I started, I am astounded at how much I’ve learned and at how much fun if has been.”

Robert W. Buck – May 2005

Swampscott, MA


“Concerning the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, I am proud of my diploma, and I have it on the wall. I must say ‘thanks Westlawn.’ I love the American mentality because I have learned to share my knowledge with other Architects. In France or even in Italy this is impossible....only secrets!


The School has been very important for me because I have learned to design craft from the hull lines to electricity, from the weight to speed estimation..... Once again I'm really proud to have my diploma.”

Otto Ranchi – May 2005

Ranchi Design

Trieste, Italy

Otto Ranchi Design Gallery


Otto Ranchi is the developer if the Arrow System Design (ASD) high-speed hull from used on patrol boats and offshore racers.


“I am a Westlawn grad who has worked in the industry for over 17 years and am now presently holding the position of Sr. Development Engineer at Pursuit Boats (a division of S2 Yachts, Inc.). I have had several colleagues of mine inquire about the Westlawn program and I am always eager to provide a wonderful appraisal of my studies at Westlawn. It was exciting when ABYC decided to adopt the course and I was also pleased to hear that Norman Nudelman was once again part of the faculty. Keep up the good work and good luck with your future endeavors.”

Earl G. Alfaro – October, 2004

Sr. Development Engineer

Pursuit Boats

Ft. Pierce, FL



“I completed your Yacht Design program in '98. I wanted to thank you for posting the info regarding the Bluewater Sailing Magazine design competition. I was recently contacted by the editor and informed that my design was chosen as the winner. Thank you Westlawn. I would have never noticed this completion without your website, and certainly would not have been capable of developing the design without the know-how your course provided. Thanks again.”

Doug M. Frolich – March, 2004

Marshall Yacht Design

Larkspur, CA



“I am aware of the transitional changes that Westlawn is going through, and I wish you the very best in keeping it together. I am glad that you have been chosen as the new Director of Westlawn, and you have my 100 percent support. In these last years, I proved to myself, that Westlawn is really a very practical and valuable school. Design theory from the Westlawn books proved to be very accurate in reality, and always on the safe side.”

Ivan Erdevicki – February, 2004

Naval Architecture & Yacht Design

Vancouver, BC



 “Hard work coupled with the program’s direction has proven to me that success and professional fulfillment are not only possible, but probable. The yachting community has consistently responded to my Westlawn experience with encouragement and respect. We can do this!”

George Rodzon – 1999

Project Engineer and Designer

Tom Fexas Yacht Design

Stuart, FL



“I believe that continuing education is needed to remain competitive in my field. The Westlawn course provided me with a way to increase my knowledge of small craft design while continuing to work in the marine industry. While the course requires a large investment of time and effort, it is enjoyable. Feedback from instructors is prompt and the whole staff is friendly and supportive. Westlawn has helped me become part of the design group I currently work with.”

Livingston Brooks –1999

Associate Design Engineer

Hatteras Yachts

New Bern, NC



“The most gratifying part of my Westlawn studies was to be taught how to apply my years on the water into a sound design. At Westlawn, the instructors coached me and my fantasies into real yachts. Of course, there was plenty of hard work - detail by detail.”

William C. Frank – 1999

Offshore Yacht Design

Rowayton, CT


“As an engineer with a life long passion to become a yacht designer, the Westlawn School of Yacht Design was key to my career transition. Westlawn’s rigorous yacht design education helped me develop skills needed for employment with such renowned firms as Sparkman and Stephens, Paola D. Smith and Broward Marine, participate in yacht design not competitions and recently open my own yacht design office. A young boy’s dream come true!”

Richard S. Brooke, PEng - 1999

Brooke Design Limited

Halifax, Nova Scotia


Richard Brooke won the 1994 Yachting Magazine Sailboat Design Contest, Professional Class, while still a student at Westlawn.


“After completing Unit One of the Westlawn Course, I returned to New Zealand to find a crippled economy and our boat building business with no work. Within one year, however, I secured a job as a part time boat builder and part time designer at Dickson Marine in Nelson. During that time I won the Cruising World Magazine design competition and, with the help and encouragement of Malcolm Dickson, I produced my first powerboat design; a 45 foot sport boat with twin Cat V8s and Levi Drives.”

Richard McBride – 1999

Principle Designer

McBride Boat Design

Nelson, New Zealand



“The Westlawn Yacht Design program as provided me with invaluable training for the marine industry. It is a very comprehensive curriculum to serve a diverse industry.”

Daniel L. Chamberlain – 1999


St. Augustine, FL




“The price of success is taking responsibility for setting goals and working persistently to achieve them. The Westlawn course helped me to achieve mine.”

David Napier – March, 1994

Naval Architect

Bertram Yachts

Miami, FL



CLICK HERE to return to the current testimonials.