From no maritime experience to product lead

Martin Skaar Vadset claims he gets the best out of two worlds, combining his master’s degree from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) with his work as product lead for DC switchboard at Vard Electro.

06. March 2024

Martin Skaar Vadset

- I was totally sold!

- When I started in Vard Electro I had zero maritime experience, my only experience related to the maritime was the local ferry trips, Martin says and smiles.

Martin was studying at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway, taking a master’s degree in Use of power and power planning – in other words, a fully theoretical background.

- To be honest, I had no idea the Vard Electro was an opportunity for me and my education. But I was put into contact with Vard Electro through a good friend and got the opportunity to have a summer internship, and then the possibility to write my Master Thesis for the company. When I saw the number of components and complexity the maritime electrical power system presented, I was totally sold!

The start

After the internship in 2017, Martin was employed in Vard Electro in 2018. With his theoretical background it was important to get practical knowledge and experience. He worked on service for a couple of months where he learned about the work and what Vard and Vard Electro are doing and met many extremely talented and pleasant people. He was on board several vessels and after half a year he went back to the office starting as a System integrator.

- I had multiple vessels during my period as a systems integrator, where I did some mistakes, which I unfortunately still do, but I also learned a lot, Martin says.

- I also gained an understanding of the importance and complexity of the systems integrator role, where integrating and interfacing various equipment play a pivotal role in ensuring that the system functions in accordance with specifications and requirements. Alongside other roles, this will become increasingly important as the complexity and requirements of the vessels grow.

Evolving industry

Now he holds the role of Product Lead in the DC Switchboard segment at Vard Electro, and his responsibilities span from the initial sales phase to project completion when the vessel is ready to set sail. The tasks of the position changes continuously.

- The maritime industry is experiencing significant growth, with a heightened emphasis on emissions reduction and efficiency enhancement, all while maintaining the vessels operational integrity. As engineer in this evolving marked, we are tasked with exploring innovative technologies and testing various technical solutions to meet marked demands. In this context, the electrical power system plays a pivotal role, serving as the heart of modern vessels, while the control systems functions as the brain, Martin explains.

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The theoretical world

Coming from a theoretical perspective, he keeps the link to academia. During the autumn of 2023, he got to be a guest lecturer at NTNU in Ålesund, where he had the course Electrical circuits – introduction for the first-year students of the bachelor Renewable energy.

- It was extremely fun, but also a little bit strange to suddenly be standing in front of the students instead of being a student myself. Now that I have the practical experience from Vard Electro, I try to package all the theory the students have to absorb and place it in the bigger picture by using examples from my daily work. In my experience, this is very useful.

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The best part

And – Martin says, one of the best things about the job in Vard Electro:

- Thriving in an exceptional work environment surrounding by skilled and friendly colleagues. One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is the opportunity to combine theoretical concepts and studies with practical applications for verification and, though hopefully infrequent, fault searching. There is always something new to learn, especially with how complex and intertwined everything is in the onboard electrical power system. It keeps things interesting and challenging all the time.

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Competence development

Martin is using NTNU as an inspiration but has also been a part of the competence development within VARD. Together with 12 others from the Vard group he was a part of the group’s European Young talents development, which is a collaboration between VARD and the owner, Fincantieri. They attended classes, got to know each other, and got to go to Fincantieri’s headquarters in Trieste, Italy.

- It was fun seeing what other departments are working with, get to know them and network with people you rarely meet but often speak to during a project. This is important work to recruit new employees. I believe that the younger generations are eager to travel, learn and meet people, and this is a great opportunity.

Martin’s advice if you are considering working in the maritime industry is clear and simple:

- Do it! If you are looking for challenges and an environment to develop yourself on all aspects, I think the industry is perfect for you.

Not bad coming from one with no maritime experience from before.

Vard academy