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Wade Clark is finishing his QMED certification at Seattle Maritime Academy.

By Hilary Reeves

Wade Clark knew he wanted to stay in the maritime industry after his discharge from the Navy in 2017. More specifically, he knew he wanted to be an engineer.

“An extended overhaul period on the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie led to my interest in engineering,” he said. “Even though my rate was Cryptologic Technician – Collection, or CTR, working in the intelligence community, I ended up helping support the engineers in quality assurance to get the ship mission ready.”

Originally from Anchorage, Clark grew up in the waterfront community of Mukilteo, Washington, north of Seattle.

“Childhood was unique in that Mukilteo is the ferry town to Whidbey Island,” he said. “I was always fascinated with vessel traffic – tugs and barges – in and around Mukilteo, the Possession Point area (of Edmonds), and Everett.”

Clark graduated from Kamiak High School and then from the University of Oregon with a degree in political science. His first job out of the Navy was with Vigor Shipyard, where he met a colleague who told him about the Society of Port Engineers of the Puget Sound. As a member, he was quickly made aware of the Seattle Maritime Academy.

Before summer ends

Clark is currently a summer intern at Foss Maritime, finishing his QMED, or Qualified Member of the Engineering Department, certification from the Seattle Maritime Academy.

“I like that I have the unique opportunity to meet many team members within Foss, and Saltchuk in general, from all different backgrounds – machinists and electricians, operations, engineering, management, merchant mariners – and learn from their perspectives,” he said. “It’s very insightful because many people here are new and have excellent ideas. Others who have been with Foss for decades have a wealth of knowledge, as well. My greatest challenge has been trying to remember all the names – so many awesome people and only so little time before the summer ends.”

Clark said his only regret is not getting into the maritime industry sooner.

“It’s so interesting to me, and when I graduated from college, I was all over the place and ended up teaching English as a school teacher in Incheon, South Korea. I didn’t regret it, but knowing that I’ll be working as an engineer on and around ships is a great feeling.”

‘A big company with a great history’

Clark said he’s most proud of helping build a home in Soldotna, Alaska with his father and friends.

“We still go up occasionally to fish and go clam digging,” he said. “My dad never wanted me to lose my Alaskan roots when we moved, and it was always his dream to build a place there. I cherish and respect my father, and to be able to help him finish his goal is easily the best thing I can be proud of.”

He plans to continue his education on engineering systems, port and harbor operations, and the tug industry trends that are unfolding.

“If I could be anything else, I’d be a standup comedy writer,” he laughed. “I think when I was a kid being the class clown was fun, but making people laugh is still something I love to do.”

Other hobbies include professional sports fandom, a vinyl collection of classic rock and R&B, and an appreciation of music and movie film history. However, for now, his focus is on fitting in at Foss.

“I’m most surprised about how much everyone in the industry knows each other, even though they’ve been based in or worked all over the country and internationally. It’s a big company with a great history, and yet it feels like a small community.”

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.