Bates Technical College Builds Boat Builders

By Mike Barker

Boatbuilding instructor Chuck Graydon of Bates Technical College sent these photos of some projects that is students have been working on using WEST SYSTEM® epoxy.

Bates Technical College is located in Tacoma, Washington. They offer several boatbuilding and repair programs designed to prepare students for apprentice-level employment in the boat building industry and ultimately fill positions in shipyards, marinas, and private boat building companies.


Instructor Chuck Graydon tells us the finest looking recently completed project using WEST SYSTEM epoxies must be the 9′ hollow, strip-built surfboard that student James Hibray crafted. He did a first-class job on the glassing and finishing.

Chuck Graydon holds up his surfboard.

Their students obtain experience through extensive hands-on training in the construction of wood and fiberglass boats and are prepared for employment as aluminum fabricators, fiberglass laminators, wood and fiberglass tool makers, joiners, and marine carpenters. The program also provides extended learning opportunities for persons previously or currently employed in the industry.

Aaron Gnirk shows off the stitch-and-glue kayaks he’s built. It’s the student’s own design, using 3mm and 6mm plywood encapsulated with WEST SYSTEM epoxy and 6oz fiberglass cloth.

One of the students is building a plywood-hulled hydrofoil, with high-density foam and WEST SYSTEM epoxy. It has fiberglass composite struts and wings.

They offer an Associate of Technology Degree and Certificates of Competency that cover basic boat building design and construction, and either fiberglass boat building and repair or wood/composite boat building.

Shorter programs are available that target the specific training areas of basic boat building design and construction, fiberglass boat building and repair or wood/composite boat building. And, they offer continuing education classes, providing individual evening courses to cover specific topics related to boat building.

Their vacuum infusion project is still in the tooling stages. Shawn Hanna fairs the hull plug—a labor-intensive job and a tough one to get the students to focus on.

Graydon says students enjoy the versatility of being able to use appropriate hardeners for different situations, and various fillers and thickening agents mixed to customize to the project. “Our students have some to rely on the predictability and consistency of results they get for any number of applications on a daily basis.”

Visit the Bates Technical College web site for more details.