STEM Internship Program

A STEM internship on S.S. JOHN W. BROWN exposes students and young volunteers to the basic systems and technology found on a steam-propelled cargo ship.  The ship is a wartime-built Liberty ship, 441 feet long with five cargo hatches.  The engineering plant features two boilers providing steam to operate a classic triple expansion steam engine.  Virtually all the engineering components are visible and everything is operated by hand, enhancing the value of anyone learning basic engineering principles.

Interns are able to delve into the science associated with buoyancy and displacement, fuel combustion, physical properties of water and steam as seen in the basic steam cycle, and boiler water testing and treatment.  The applications of technology are seen in a variety of mechanical devices, the ship’s rigging and cargo handling machinery, auxiliary steam engines as well as the main propulsion engine and the refrigeration system.  Most aspects of marine engineering are presented and interns have the opportunity to participate in the actual operation of a steam plant.  Math is used on a regular basis to compute a variety of engineering data.


In addition to the “hands on” personal instruction, interns are guided using written exercises to gain a better understanding of the STEM principles found on board.  The exercises afford students the opportunity to learn more about the design and operation of the ship’s equipment and how science and technology is applied in engineering systems and practice.

High school students not enrolled in a STEM program are welcome to volunteer aboard and will receive the same type of individual mentoring and training provided to STEM interns.

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