The International Yacht Restoration School’s newly launched Composites Technology program offers students in-depth instruction in both theory and manufacturing technique, says Henry Elliot, an instructor at the school.

The innovative nine-month program began in September 2010, and is offered at the school’s Bristol, R.I. campus, Elliot says. The first class of students will graduate in 2011.

“I’m having a good time with this,” says Elliot. “I’m a maker/builder. For the last 40 years, I’ve been making composite things, and it’s rewarding to pass the art onto the next generation. Hopefully, these guys will learn the right way to do things.”

“It’s the most comprehensive curriculum available,” says Robert Lacovara, who wrote the curriculum for the course. He is former technical director of the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and founder of Convergent Composites, in Perkasie, Penn.

“Others mostly concentrate on a particular arena — for example, they concentrate on the marine industry, looking at open-molding processing in reference to that industry. The scope of this training goes from basic low-tech, all the way through to advanced composites,” says Lacovara.

“This program is absolutely unique, from the standpoint that it vertically integrates all the skills needed to move forward in the emerging composites industry,” says Lacovara. He created the industry’s first fiberglass shop technology program, which was a precursor to ACMA’s Certified Composites Technician (CCT) program.

“The idea is to take the students through all the composite material processes: Thermoplastic Kelvin cures, starting from open molding, investigation and closed molding of various kinds,” says Elliot. “By the time we get done, we’ll have gone through all the common materials and processes from general to advanced composites.”

Graduates will be able to both build and repair boats, says Elliot. “My hope is the materials and processes will prove applicable across the whole industry. These skills could also work in wind energy, aerospace or in any one of those specific industries. There’s a lot of specific training — enough to get your foot in the door and be reasonably competitive,” Elliot says.

Students will be trained on a CNC machine, too. “That’s a first, as far as I know, in a graduate program — that level and scope of training,” says Lacovara.