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NEW FISHERIES ENGINEERING COURSE

BY PROF. S. C. PRESCOTT, '94

Professor of Industrial Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Reprinted from The Tech Engineering News.

ON October 3 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered to its students the opportunity of undertaking studies in a new and interesting field to which the name of Fisheries Engineering may be given. Obviously it is intended that this course shall train men to enter and develop the fishery industry in the same way that an Electrical Engineer works in the field of Applied Electricity, or a Sanitary Engineer in the field of Public Health, Water Supply and Waste Disposal on a large scale. In other words he is to bring to bear the facts and principles of science, and by such application there must come increased efficiency, improved methods of operation, and eventually a greater demand for the product which is developed.

Whatever the actual reasons for the present decline in the fisheries industry, it is clear that this enormous industry, which should play such a large part in the development and maintenance of our food supplies, is in imminent need of trained men, and a new door of opportunity is open to the technically trained man. When it is borne in mind that the fishing industry was for decades one of the fundamental industries of America, and second only to agriculture, and that it still ranks very high (fourth or fifth) in our productive enterprises, it may properly be regarded as a field to which the aids of applied science should be directed. It may be claimed justly that here is an industry of enormous magnitude and still greater possibilities which has almost no attention given to it except through the work of the Bureau of Fisheries at Washington, whereas all branches of agriculture, stock raising, forestry, oil production, mining, and other industries based upon or utilizing the great natural resources are being fostered and aided by a large number of agencies, such as the Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, Governmental Departments, and the Universities and Technical Schools. Let it be recalled that every state has at least one College of Agriculture and one or more Experiment Stations, all devoting time and money to help the farmer, the fruit grower or the stock raiser in the solution of his problems. Let it be remembered that at least a dozen schools of mining exist, even in states having no important mineral wealth, and many more are attached to technical schools and state universities. Similarly, and still more directly comparable with the fishing industry, schools of forestry have sprung up in considerable numbers, the aim of which is to aid the lumber industry, save the forests from depletion by unintelligent methods, conserve

the timber supply indefinitely, and apply science to what was formerly done by "rule of thumb."

The problems of the fisheries are just as scientific, and the industry needs the same type of trained men if it is to survive and to handle with efficiency the questions of conservation and perpetuation of fish foods, improved methods of food preservation, and the prevention of the enormous waste that now takes place. The keen minds in the industry, those who have given deep thought to the matter, have claimed, and I believe justly, that if a suitable course of broad technical training could be supplied, in other words, if a new profession based on an old industry could be created, the industry would absorb eagerly the men so trained, and would be greatly benefited thereby, and that this benefit would quickly react to give us greatly improved fishery products and a stabilized industry. The leaders in this work would be essentially engineers or applied scientists in the same class with the agricultural expert, the trained forester or the mining engineer, for an engineer deals not merely with machines but with the forces and resources of Nature.

The training essential for men of this type, who will eventually become leaders in a great basic industry, must be broad as well as practical. As good citizens and men of affairs they must have general knowledge as well as specialized knowledge. Hence the course of study which they follow should be strong in general studies such as English, economics, mathematics and chemical and physical sciences. In the specialized fields there are certain lines of prime importance. Obviously the first to be considered is the biological, for the men must know much about fish, their habits, their enemies, their foods, their breeding peculiarities and their life histories. Since the fish are to be frozen, dried, canned and preserved in various ways, as well as sold in fresh condition, knowledge of the causes of spoilage and deterioration is essential. This involves a thorough study of microbic life or bacteriology, and parallel with this, studies in organic chemistry and biochemistry. As the preservation of food materials by refrigeration, dehydration, salting, smoking or canning is based in every case upon the destruction or inhibition of bacterial life, the technology of fishery products is in part a biological matter. It is in part also a matter of methods and machinery, so it is necessary for the fisheries engineer to have a sound fundamental training in mechanism, in the types of engines he is likely to have to use, and in the proper control of his machinery. Under the subject of heat engineering he acquires training to meet these demands. The mechanical and engineering subjects therefore comprise a second group of subjects. Navigation may also be included here.

A third group of subjects deals with the economics of the industry and with its industrial relations, and with general business administration. Accounting and cost accounting, statistics and their collection and use, industrial organization and business management and business law supply the needed fundamentals in this field. Under the general subject of business management will appear such important matters as

transportation, publicity, marketing, sales management, and the many other phases of activity necessary in a thoroughly organized industry.

Finally, a fisheries engineer should know how to supervise the health of his employees, safeguard his products, maintain his plant in a clean and sanitary condition, and advise in matters of personal health habits. A group of subjects bearing on public and personal hygiene and plant sanitation equips him for this phase of his future work.

The course in fisheries engineering as it has been thus briefly and roughly characterized is seen to be a composite of subjects in the Departments of Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Engineering Administration. It is comparable with the other four-year courses offered at the Institute and leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science. While the largest percentage of work will be in the Department of Biology and Public Health, the engineering subjects will be taught in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the business subjects in the Department of Engineering Administration. The work of the first two years is largely in fundamental general subjects, while that of the last two years is largely devoted to specialized studies particularly applicable to the fisheries industry. The requirements for admission to the course are the same as for the other professional courses, and it is regarded that the satisfactory completion of the prescribed course of study stamps the man with a professional attainment of as high standard as the training in the older courses such as civil or mechanical engineering or chemistry or architecture.

It is worth noting that what applies to the fishery industry is equally applicable to the other food industries. We might properly expand the course and call it Food Engineering and this may later be done. It is only necessary to modify in some degree the subject matter of a few courses to provide a training that might find application in meat packing, or in the canning and drying of vegetables and fruits or in other food industries. All types of processes of food preparation and conservation have progressed from the simple domestic or home industry, through the small factory stage, until today they are developments of large units, and have become the focus for a special type of engineer who can visualize and can realize production on a large scale. It is a safe prophecy that the term "food engineer" will be common within five years. We have "refrigeration engineers" already.

The course of study which has been outlined has received the hearty approval of the industry, the trade journals, Chambers of Commerce and representatives in Congress, the United States Bureau of Fisheries, and the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner have kindly offered the heartiest co-operation in every possible way. Already one investigator has been detailed to work in the Biological Department on a special problem of much importance, and others are likely to be assigned here as rapidly as they can be trained. It has also received the support of the state conservation commission, of the Federal Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Chemistry, and of various official and semi-official organizations. The Bureau of Fisheries has

promised to detail experts to aid in instruction, and has already expressed the hope that trained men may soon be available from this course for the Federal service in the Bureau as investigators and engineers. They predict that the industry will absorb the greater number of men who receive this training, but that they can take a number of men yearly. The problem at the moment is to supply the men. The student looking for a new field of usefulness may well give this careful thought.

CHORAL SOCIETY FORMING

Alumni near Boston Welcome

By the time this appears the newly formed Technology Choral Society of the Institute will have begun its rehearsals under the leadership of Stephen Townsend, the well-known choral director, who consented to take the position through his friendship for Fred Bullard, '87, author of The Stein Song. The organization expects to meet at Technology on Friday evenings to sing good music. Alumni living near Boston will be heartily welcomed and invited to sing with the undergraduates.

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Corporation and Institute Committee offered aid

AMONG the first of the great educational institutions of the country to offer services and equipment to the Government in the threatened railroad strike was the Institute. The executive committee of the Corporation sent a letter to Governor Cox placing at the disposal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the facilities of the Institute and announcing that plans had already been started to provide instruction in the practical phases of railroading for such men as may be sent to it. The letter follows:

His Excellency, Channing H. Cox,
Governor of Massachusetts,

State House,

Boston, Massachusetts.

Your Excellency:

"October 18, 1921.

The Executive Committee of the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology feels that in the present emergency it is the duty of the Institute to assist the Commonwealth in every way in its

power.

We have prepared tentative plans for the immediate organization of a considerable body of men of such previous education that, after a short course of intensive training, they will be able to take the places of men who may leave their work should the threatened railroad strike

occur.

We await your commands.

Very respectfully,

For the Executive Committee.
EVERETT MORSS, Secretary.

The Institute Committee, Donald Carpenter, '22, chairman, also placed the services of the undergraduates at the service of the State.

The intensive training in railroading which it was proposed to give covered chiefly the instruction of engineers in the care and operation of a locomotive and the air brake system and in reading signals. There are in operation at the Institute courses dealing with various phases of railroading including maintenance and operation of locomotives and signals. It would also have been possible, had the need arisen to train men for the operation and care of motor trucks.

It was thought that men competent to run locomotives would be trained in a very short time. If a man has had the benefit of the shipping board training five days would probably suffice to make him competent

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