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Harbinger of the future of maritime review

Harbinger of the future of maritime review
Yashika F. Torib February 19, 2020

Virtual classrooms, technologically powered review materials, portable storage databanks and audio textbooks — these digital innovations are what Chief Engineer Romeo Luzuriaga brings to the Philippine maritime review sector with hopes of bringing it on par with the increasingly digital world of shipping.

The president and chief executive officer of Competence Management and Consultancy Inc. (Compman) maritime review center he pioneered innovative solutions to what he described as a very “traditional” way of review for maritime board licensure examinations.

C/E Luzuriaga shared how the industry seemed to get stuck with outdated modes of review even with the advent of digitalization in world shipping.

“Review centers are still using hard copies for review materials. Some may have already used computers, but everything was still in PDF files. It was then, around 2013, when I started to conceptualize a digital approach to review using mobile devices, software applications and computers,” he said.

Such realization led to the birth of Compman along with a mobile application that was especially developed in Portugal. “We started offering review services to seafarers using this mobile app that is installed on tablets and their phones. It was convenient, handy and effective. We were the first to offer such services in the country, and it was immediately received well by seafarers,” he recalled.

With the aim of initiating a continuous and real-time education to Filipino mariners, C/E Luzuriaga started expanding the service across the country until Compman hit its 36th branch. “Giving out lectures nationwide became a challenge, and so, we introduced virtual classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards and cameras. The interactive boards from all of our review branches [would] simultaneously reflect what was being written here in Manila, and the instructor [could] teach remotely through our cameras,” the seasoned mariner explained.

As Compman made waves in the maritime review sector, its founder remained restive with the constant question of, “How can I continuously improve the traditional review [process] in the Philippines?” Being a former seafarer himself, C/E Luzuriaga knew how shipboard tasks, trainings, reviews, examinations, certifications and furloughs can pull a seafarer all over the place. “They suffer from information overload, and it affects their knowledge retention,” he commented.

This inconvenience led him to conceptualize an audible functionality in the review phone apps. “We are gearing towards this form of digitalization now. A seafarer can now review only by listening; they can do so while traveling or even while lying down. The principle is the same as with audiobooks, the review materials are read and pre-recorded and can be listened to by reviewees.”

“While it may be hard to put up a business, it is a lot harder to maintain it. To do that, you must learn to innovate, especially when technology is readily available; otherwise, you will be left out. This is the direction global shipping, as well as maritime education and training, are taking, it’s a continuous improvement. We need to step-up our game by looking into more progressive maritime countries and benchmarking with them,” C/E Luzuriaga observed.

The chief engineer’s passion for maritime education and training is fueled by an accumulation of experiences, exposures, trainings and the endless capacity for learning ­— things that he acquired with years of service to local and international corporations that rely heavily on quality management s ystems (QMS), project management, business processes, and software development and analysis.

“My experiences with global business processes was an eye opener and I wanted to apply all these systems for the improvement of the maritime industry,” he said.

Knowing that his mission to revolutionize the maritime review sector will not end anytime soon, C/E Luzuriaga joined and acquired Elosoft, a software development company that provides business solutions to small and medium-scale enterprises across the country. It was here that he utilized his software development and analysis skills.

“We also use Elosoft to assist Training Resource Management Foundation, the CSR arm of Compman. One of TRMF’s mission is to help maritime schools comply with Marina’s requirements with regards to providing a monitoring system, for deployment of cadets. We also help these schools come up with an assessment program through the use of a data bank containing a random selection of questions. The results can be seen immediately after the assessment,” he said.

TRMF’s primary objective is to provide onboard apprenticeship assistance to maritime students, deliver advisory and technical help to maritime stakeholders and extend financial assistance to seafarers from poor families for their deployment processes.

C/E Luzuriaga is a graduate of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) class ‘79 and sailed the high seas for more than a decade. His shore-based career for the maritime industry spans almost three decades with experiences garnered from power plant companies, international ship repair, training institutions and manning agencies.