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MPT breaks ground on $5 million expansion

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Ft. Lauderdale-based Maritime Professional Training (MPT) broke ground last night, Oct. 14, on a 25,000-square-foot, $5 million expansion that will double the size of the school’s simulation program.

“When it’s done, it will be the most technologically advanced maritime training facility in the world,” said Capt. Ted Morley, chief operating officer of the family-run school. “This is a big thing for us as a company, for the local community, for the local industry. We have very strong roots here for the past 30 years, and Ft. Lauderdale is the very best home we could have.”

The school at 1915 S. Andrews Ave. has owned the yellow-toned building behind it for 15 years, but occupied less than half of it, continuing to lease the remainder to the previous owner. That tenant moved out earlier this year, making way for MPT to expand.

The expansion will stretch across the parking area to the south with classrooms. The northern part of the building will include a 360-degree bridge simulator, two other Class A simulators and an engine room simulator that functions as a control room.

“Every classroom will have interactive streaming live video so students can log in and watch live lectures and query instructors,“ Morley said. “At the SMART Center, the simulators talk to each other; I wanted more. I wanted the software to figure out a way to not only have the simulators talk to each other, but over the Internet to talk to schools in Europe, schools in Africa, schools in Australia. This technology enables 50, 60, 70 schools to co-mingle in the courses.”

Other additions to the new building include a radar room and radar lab, a dynamic positioning lab and an ECDIS room. The school is working on approvals so that DP study will count toward sea-time reduction. Those approvals are expected in time for the expansion’s opening in the spring.

“We’re trying to help people get to work faster,” said Lisa Morley, director of sales and marketing for the school.

Ft. Lauderdale-based Gulf Building Corp. is general contractor for the expansion, which will bring MPT’s total training space to about 61,000 square feet, which includes the SMART Center, a simulation center off State Road 84.

“We’re so busy, we have students at the Hyatt Place, at the Comfort Suites,” Lisa Morley said. “We thought we could sell the SMART Center, but we can’t.”

Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, City Commissioner Romney Rogers and Phil Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, were on hand to toss out the ceremonial first shovel of dirt.

MPT has more than 100 employees and serves more than 10,000 students a year in both the commercial maritime and yachting industries at all levels of certification, license and document study programs.

“The secret to all of the growth is that we cared about the people,” Beverly Morley said. “I can’t tell you how many people Amy sat with and helped go through, and got to stay.”

 

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at lucy@the-triton.com.

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