CMI Using Simulators to Enhance Training


The Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) is preparing students for professions in the highly skilled shipping and maritime industry, utilising millions of dollars worth of training simulators, which were acquired through a combination of Government and donor funding.
These state-of-the-art devices, which reproduce real life tasks in a safe environment, help to bridge the gap between theory and application.
According to Executive Director of the CMI, Fritz Pinnock, they are ideal training and assessment tools.
“You are able to make a greater assessment, for example, when you put a driver in one of those expensive US$8 million gantry cranes, there are some things that you cannot pick up. When you put him in a simulator, you can scientifically test his dexterity skills, as well as determine whether or not he has the aptitude to operate this type of equipment,” he tells JIS News.
He points out that there are errors that can be detected with the use of the simulator, which may not be readily noticeable with the naked eye.
Mr. Pinnock also contends that it is cheaper to damage a ship in virtual reality than in real life. “Also, you can use it for pre-screening. When you employ people, you can put them through the simulator. You can simulate any type of experience you like. You can put them in a hurricane condition, you can put them under stress to see how they manage the situation,” he explains.
The institution presently has a bridge simulator, which is the representation of the bridge of a ship on sail; a gantry crane simulator, which shows how containers move from vessels onto land, and how containers are packed at various facilities; and an engine room simulator, which mimics the engine room in different types of vessels. In addition, a machine fault simulator, and hydraulics and pneumatic simulator, are used to train engineers.
A bus simulator is the latest addition to the CMI’s recently established Land Transportation School, and it is intended to train bus and truck drivers and, eventually, taxi drivers as well as other drivers.
Under this initiative, the Institute will partner with the Transport and Works Ministry through the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Limited, the Island Traffic Authority, the Transport Authority, and the Road Safety Unit to launch a new public transport driver testing course, utilising the simulator.
In an interview with JIS News following the installation of the bus simulator in March, Mr. Pinnock revealed that the initial phase would involve the training of all drivers of the JUTC. It will later be an advanced mandatory testing and certification tool for all public passenger drivers. The Executive Director pointed out that the training would aid in defensive driving and minimise the risk of accidents on the roads.
Academic Director of the CMI, Ibrahim Ajagunna, who notes that the Institute plans to add more simulators, says that the use of these devices has significantly improved the technical skills of the students. “You find that instead of students having to go to sea to gain the experience, they basically have the hands-on (experience of) different simulators,” he says.
He adds that due to the skills attained from the use of the simulators, people from other Caribbean islands and the United States come to the Institute for training.
The CMI provides professional maritime education and training to seafarers, the regional shipping industry, coast guards, maritime administrations and allied industries.
Subjects covered include shipping and logistics; international shipping management; cruise shipping and tourism management; port management; security administration and management; industrial systems operation; logistics and supply chain management.
“The good thing about our academic programme is that we have used the University Council of Jamaica standards in the development of our curriculum. Presently, we are the only institution in Jamaica, probably in the English-speaking Caribbean to offer the type of programmes that we offer at the CMI,” Mr. Ajagunna tells JIS News.
He informs that currently, diploma, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programmes are offered, but the intention is to eventually phase out the diploma and associate degrees.
The basic entry requirements for all programmes are English Language and Mathematics, but depending on the particular course, additional qualification may be needed such as a science subject.
The Academic Director says that applicants, who do not meet the entry requirements, are not rejected “as we have preliminary programmes that prepare you to qualify for entry into any of the programmes that we offer.”
In the meantime, he reveals that the CMI is working to develop an adult education programme. “There are a vast number of people in the industry with a high level of experience but without an educational background, and as such, we take in this individual as a mature candidate,” he notes.
Noting the seamless connection of land, air and sea transportation, the Executive Director informs that “land-based training should be started very soon.”
“Not just training the bus drivers and the trailer drivers, but we are going to be putting out diploma courses and later bachelor’s degrees in transportation management and so on,” he points out.
To this end, the CMI, in association with Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) through Security Administrators Limited (SAL); Jamaica Customs Brokers and Jamaica Customs Department, is to introduce two security programmes – a Bachelor of Science Degree in Security Administration and Management, and an Advanced Port Facility Security Officer course.
Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ earlier this year, Mr. Pinnock said that the degree programme aims to provide a holistic approach to security by integrating three modes of transportation. “We are adding the professional component that will address security issues, not just seeing it from the land, but from the sea and the air. The aim is to develop human resources in the maritime sector by equipping them with the academic and practical skills needed,” he said.
The Institute is also working to achieve university status in the next few years. “We are now pursuing the International Standard Organisation (ISO) accreditation. We will be the first institution in the entire Caribbean on this side of the world to achieve ISO (accreditation) on our degree programmes,” Mr. Pinnock tells JIS News.
There are also plans to roll out a major distance education training system, where courses will be offered online.
The Institute, which has the mission to produce industry-ready leaders through borderless, strategic partnerships, research and application, was established in 1980 as a result of the difficulties encountered in finding crew members to work onboard Jamaica’s five ships under the Jamaica Merchant Marines.
Located at Palisadoes Park in Kingston, the CMI has satellite schools in St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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