AVTEC Scholarship winner announced

We are happy to announce Carly Ness is the winner of this year’s Marathon/CIRCAC scholarship for the Alaska Maritime Training Center at AVTEC.

The $2,500 scholarship program launched in 2019 in partnership with Marathon Petroleum to “provide advanced training for Cook Inlet’s challenging environment,” says Captain John Schneider of Marathon, who was instrumental in designing and advancing the simulator training available at AVTEC.

Ness is currently studying and training to obtain her 100-ton Captain license and plans to continue working in the tourism industry. Originally from Fargo, North Dakota, she came to Alaska nearly 10 years ago “just for the summer, during college.”

She has mostly worked as a deckhand for tour companies operating out of Seward since, and the CIRCAC/Marathon scholarship is helping her continue her career development in that area.

“It’s such an amazing experience to bring out people who have never been in this environment. They have no idea what to expect and you put them on a boat and see amazing things every day and see people have the best experience of their life. (It) is addicting,” Ness says.

According the United States Coast Guard, the license is properly termed “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels” (OUPV) and is commonly referred to as the “6-pack” or “Charterboat Captain’s License”, and “6-pack” refers to the 6 passenger limitation placed on the license. All OUPV licenses are for 100 Gross Tons vessels (about 100 feet, more or less).

Rob Chadwell, head of the Maritime Department at AVTEC, helps administer the scholarship program. He says it offers an opportunity to bring youth and diversity to the maritime industry, but also looks for candidates with some local connection who may not have many other opportunities to seek financial aid. “Some may be eligible for funding from other sources, so (we’re) looking for candidates that have some AVTEC background and have exhausted other sources.”

Chadwell says in addition to her resume and local work experience, Ness made a good impression when he would see her season after season, at the dock, putting in the work.

Though most of her experience has been on the sightseeing side of things, Ness says one of her most memorable seasons was working as a deckhand on a charter fishing boat, a job she never envisioned for herself.

“I was always interested, but never thought I could do it,” she says. “Then all of a sudden I’m a charter boat deckhand, I’m getting my Captain’s license; that’s eventually what I want to do for other people, inspire them that you can do this.”

For more information on this and other CIRCAC scholarships, visit here.