Are you still learning?

I once heard someone criticize somebody else as “not knowing the difference between a boat and a ship”.  When I first heard this comment almost 20 years ago as a young person trying to figure out what shipping was in the first place, I thought it a strange comparison.  I now understand how important terms and definitions are to relating the complex world of shipping and international trade.  For this reason, I put a small “What is” in the ITTS newsletter, simply to give a concise definition to terms that are commonplace in various transportation industries.

Here are two interesting sources regarding information on trade and transportation information.

Gordon Wilmsmeier, a professor at the Transport Research Institute (TRi), Edinburgh Napier University, developed an interactive mapping game of a modern container vessel.   I actually missed a few items when I took the test, such as labeling the wrong 20’s and the hull sections but it is a good introduction to the basic characteristics of a modern container vessel.

Carol Kennan, who heads up the Federal Highway Administration Freight Professional Development program has done a great job in promoting courses and information sharing with the general freight practitioner.  There is a monthly “Talking Freight Seminars” on related topics related to trade and transportation.  (I had the privilege of speaking twice: once on the Freight Analysis Framework in 2003, and recently on the Panama Canal.)

Despite the advent of the internet and the potential learning tools associated, I guess everyone will learn as they have done in the past, through observation and questioning.  When still fairly new at the Port of Long Beach, an old freight forwarder told me I will spend the first six months in transportation learning the basics, and the rest of my career learning the exceptions.  It remains to this day some of the best advice I ever received.

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