Robert Bartee, marine engineer and program manager at Donald Blount and Associates, met Donald Blount in 1991 at an airport after having visited interviewed at Derecktor Shipyard for an electrical engineering position. He took a job with Blount as a marine engineer and helped grow a staff of very capable engineers interested in advancing the state of the art for performance of marine vessels. Over the years he has developed some of the most notable high-performance yachts and grew into the recreational boat market as well as refit. The Blount group became a full service Naval Architecture company offering all phases of design from concept to sea trials.
Which project do you consider to be the most significant accomplishment in your career?
Crossing Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver on my Harley Roadglide. Good clean air and no worries. My wife may have different destinations in mind.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Collaborating with other top-notch engineers that think outside the box. In order to reach some of the performance milestones that DLBA has met, it requires an enormous brain trust in all areas from structure materials, propulsion concepts, lightweight design of systems and interior fabrication materials and techniques. A quote from a colleague in my early yacht days was “Anything can be designed, if you are willing.”
Who has influenced you the most? Why?
Donald Blount has most influenced my career and me. He had no fear of looking at existing technologies of history and advancing them for the present and future. He had the patience to grow my basic skills and taught me to not be fearful of new ideas. He is a major contributor to developing engineering principals to tackle difficult task that was thought to have barriers. When I first started working for Donald, he was busy with GTMY Destriero being constructed at Fincantieri. That vessel continues to hold the cross Atlantic transit speed record and set the stage for fast ferry monohulls in the early 90s. Donald has always shared his ideas with others to keep the industry on its toes. He published a technical book, “Performance by Design” to share his experiences and knowledge and that book is used as a textbook at universities. Now, in his 80’s he is thinking of a new book to expand the ideas he has been interested in over the years.
What advice do you have for the next generation?
Keep an open mind to new ideas or varying old ideas. The maritime history is very deep with ideas that can be advanced. Hard work pays off if it is something you enjoy.
What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry?
I’m fascinated with the trend for electric/hybrid vessels. It seems to be reaching all types and sizes of vessels.
What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve gotten?
“Regardless of the personalities within any given project, always be Ethical and Professional”. This thought stays with me when dealing with difficult issues. A cool head always prevails.
What does it mean to you to be an ISS judge?
I enjoy being an ISS Judge as it allows me the opportunity to get an annual review of trends of designs and shipyards from designers and engineers I have been associated with over the years. It’s always entertaining to see how the projects are presented. The pride that goes into every yacht design is amazing.
What do you like about the ISS Design & Awards Gala?
I attended several Galas before becoming a judge. My travels and active projects have prevented me from attending as a judge. Hobnobbing with the industries best is great fun. Maybe I’ll be there this year….