Wednesday – February 22, 2017

The MATC Story

Milwaukee Area Technical College is the bridge to a better future for our students, graduates and community. That future is built upon a solid yet vibrant past. Over the course of more than 100 years, MATC has played a crucial role in the growth of the greater Milwaukee community.

Founded in 1912, MATC has grown to become one of the Midwest's largest community-based technical colleges. We offer more than 200 associate degree, technical diploma, certificate and apprentice programs. MATC has six academic schools:


  • School of Business delivers targeted career training in areas including culinary arts, cosmetology, information technology, marketing and accounting.
  • School of Media and Creative Arts fosters innovations in digital artistry and new technologies. Associate degrees include Audio Production, Animation, Computer Simulation and Gaming, Graphic Design, Web Design and Front End Development, Music Occupations, Photography, and Television and Video Production.
  • School of Health Sciences prepares students for careers in hospitals, clinics, dental offices and more. With a range of programs, students can choose from direct patient care to administration.
  • School of Liberal Arts and Sciences enables students to earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree at MATC and transfer to most Wisconsin four-year colleges and universities, as well as 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation. The school also features occupational programs in teacher education, human services and more.
  • School of Technology and Applied Sciences offers programs preparing students for a wide range of careers including architectural technology, advanced manufacturing, automotive technology, electronic engineering, carpentry, interior design and landscape horticulture.
  • School of Pre-College Education prepares students for college coursework, to earn a GED or Adult High School diploma, or to take English as a Second Language or bilingual classes. 


Prepared for Bright Futures

The college served 38,302 students in 2014-15. People choose MATC because they want targeted, practical instruction and training for their career of choice. Eighty-seven percent of 2014 graduates were employed within six months of graduation or continued on to four-year colleges and universities.

Most full-time students are pursuing degrees and diplomas, but more than half of our students are taking a course or two to expand their skills or learn new ones. We facilitate lifelong learning – a core element of our mission.

MATC student services help keep students on track with financial aid, tutoring, advising and much more. Our students often must make difficult sacrifices to begin or continue their college education. They show tremendous determination in their desire to succeed, especially those with families and jobs.

Our faculty members have extensive professional experience in their occupational fields. Everywhere at MATC, hands-on teaching, smaller class sizes and individual attention enhance the learning experience. Students get the help they need to succeed.


Easy Access and Online Learning

Each of our four campuses offers day, evening and weekend classes:

  • Downtown Milwaukee Campus, 700 West State Street
  • Mequon Campus, 5555 West Highland Road
  • Oak Creek Campus, 6665 South Howell Avenue
  • West Allis Campus, 1200 South 71st Street 

A pioneer in online learning, MATC offers nine associate degrees, and 11 technical diplomas entirely online, plus hundreds of online courses. MATC courses also are taught at numerous evening centers and community-based sites.

MATC is an open-enrollment institution, meaning we accept all who want to learn. For those who need to strengthen their academic skills to prepare for college work, the School of Pre-College Education offers a variety of paths to college, including through partnerships with more than 30 community-based organizations.

We also offer students convenient access to four-year colleges and universities. Forty-nine percent of 2012 graduates reported planning to pursue a bachelor's degree. About 500 students per year enter the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee through MATC. 


Proudly Diverse

At MATC, 58% of students identify themselves as minority. The student population is also the  state's most diverse in terms of age and social background.

Growing segments of our student population include workers seeking retraining and college-educated professionals – many with bachelor's and master's degrees – who wish to add to their skill set or change careers. While nontraditional adult learners remain the backbone of the college, we are experiencing an influx of traditional college students entering directly from high school.

Students come from all cultures, faiths, nationalities and circumstances.

Student demographics for 2014-15 were:

Average age: 30

Female/Male: 54% / 46%

White: 42%
African American: 32%
Hispanic: 17%
Asian American: 6%
Multiracial: 2%
American Indian: 1%

Sustainability Initiatives

MATC is fast becoming a national pioneer in sustainability efforts and green technology initiatives. It is a signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.

In collaboration with Johnson Controls, the college has created a Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory, a 32-acre, 510 kW facility at 810 East Capitol Drive on the city's northeast side. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. Energy produced at the site will be used to power electric vehicles and operate the Milwaukee Public Television transmitter located there – the first public television transmitter in the country that will transition to being neutral to the energy grid. The facility also will serve as a training center for students entering renewable energy careers. As a commitment to future urban growth, the entire solar education laboratory will be portable – the first entirely portable PV facility in the U.S.

MATC is also a local leader in wind technology. Mequon Campus has the largest wind turbine on a college campus in the state –160 feet tall, with a blade diameter of 56 feet. It is part of a sustainability initiative designed to educate students and the public about renewable energy technologies. The 90-kilowatt, V-17 turbine supplies power directly to the Mequon Campus. It will provide about 8 percent of the campus's electricity. The Meqon Campus also has a PV system with rooftop and pole-mounted units.

Students, local employers and employees benefit from courses and practice at the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) at the Oak Creek Campus.The Center is home to a 3.5 kW wind turbine, three solar photovoltaic systems, a solar thermal energy system, and a geothermal heating and cooling system.


A Sound Investment

MATC is responsible for infusing billions of dollars into the community. The MATC District economy receives about $879.2 million in average annual added income due to the activities of MATC alumni and former sutdents in the workforce and the college's activities/contributions.
On average, students and graduates receive a 17% rate of return on their MATC educational investment.

Continuous Evolution

The MATC story is one of continuous evolution in response to changing needs. A few recent examples:

During the severe recession of 2009-10, full-time program enrollments increased by more than 10%. These enrollment increases rank among the college's largest in 25 years.

Milwaukee's central city faces rampant unemployment, especially among African-American males. In partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools, MATC is creating new pathways to college for at-risk students, including the Prepared Learner Initiative.

MATC keeps pace with rapid advancements in digital technologies. The college created the School of Media and Creative Arts for our Animation, Computer Simulation and Gaming, Graphic Design and Interactive Media associate degree programs as well as numerous certificate programs.

Our partnership with Discovery World is helping to train greater Milwaukee's next-generation creative class, opening new horizons in interactive digital communications. Students gain real-world experience when they plan, create and construct Discovery World exhibit projects. 

New associate degree and certificate programs in sustainable facilities operations and other green technology areas answer the call from employers and workers to provide much-needed training. The Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) at the Oak Creek Campus trains people and companies to compete and thrive in a global economy. Students and other trainees acquire advanced digital skills for manufacturing and for service and programming of the new systems. Businesses learn how sustainability strategies can improve their bottom line.  


MATC History:

Reformist Roots

MATC owes its beginnings largely to Wisconsin social reformer Charles McCarthy. Outraged by the child labor of his era, McCarthy in 1911 urged the State Legislature to pass a law creating a statewide network of continuation schools. Employers for the first time were required to release boys and girls from work to attend school or learn a vocation. The same right was accorded for the first time to trade apprentices. (Boys could be indentured with as little as a third-grade education.)

Led by founding director Robert L. Cooley, the Milwaukee Continuation School began classes in fall 1912 at the Manufacturers' Home Building on Mason Street and at the Stroh Building south of the Post Office. These makeshift classrooms soon became overcrowded, and city leaders authorized construction of a permanent school at the corner of 6th and State Streets. The first section of the Main Building opened in 1920. Its completion and the consolidation of classes took eight more years. The new school was called Milwaukee Vocational School to reflect its training mission.

From its earliest days, Milwaukee Vocational School offered evening classes taught by industry professionals, using the same equipment students would encounter on the job. Cooley called this "practical learning," a term that survives. It began with the need to serve a population of people from many different backgrounds, all of whom wanted learning that would directly advance their lives.

Then as now at MATC, working professionals dominated the ranks of evening faculty. In response to popular demand from various neighborhoods, a system of branch evening schools – today known as evening centers – quickly emerged.    

Creation of a Junior College

The Great Depression saw the development of a high school completion program and a junior college. The school's new director, William Raasche, had a visionary idea: Students would take college transfer courses in the morning and occupational classes in the afternoon. That way, when the economy improved, they would be prepared to enter the job market immediately, while preserving their option to continue learning. The first credit transfer partner was the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

War Years

World War II transformed Milwaukee Vocational into a training center for defense workers. The Army Signal Corps set up a training unit on campus. The school ran day and night, seven days a week, facilitating the entry of large numbers of women and African Americans into the industrial workforce for the first time. When the war ended, returning servicemen flooded the traditional apprentice programs, but the demand for tradespeople already was declining relative to technicians.

The sudden influx of adult learners led the college to change its name to Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School in 1948.

Milwaukee Institute of Technology

In the postwar period, military technology – from radar to computers – rapidly changed the way Americans lived and worked. Answering a demand for a new kind of worker with new sets of skills, Milwaukee Vocational launched a series of technical programs that led to the school's reinvention as the Milwaukee Institute of Technology in 1951.

MIT was a parallel unit spun off to house two-year associate degree programs, a forerunner of today's MATC. In 1959, MIT gained accreditation as a college.

The Dawn of Public TV

More than any other new technology, television changed the world. In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Institute of Technology helped open TV to education when closed-circuit television instruction began in 1950 from a laboratory on the 6th floor of the Main Building. Locally and nationally, Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler led the fight to set aside VHF channels for public television.

In 1952 the Federal Communications Commission licensed Milwaukee Channel 10 to MIT. Five years later, Channel 10 WMVS inaugurated the first educational TV broadcasts in Wisconsin, with teachers hired from Milwaukee Public Schools, teaching MPS courses.

Rapid Changes

The 1960s saw rapid changes. In 1964, the Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School added "Technical" to its name. Four years later, it recombined with the Milwaukee Institute of Technology to become the new Milwaukee Technical College.

Led by Gov. Warren Knowles, the Legislature by this time had decided to replace the small, independent vocational schools with regional colleges that would equalize the funding among all constituent communities and function as centralized authorities.

In 1969, metro Milwaukee's vocational schools merged into Milwaukee Area Technical College as the 16th member of the new Vocational, Technical and Adult Education System (now the Wisconsin Technical College System). MATC covered all of Milwaukee County, the southern two-thirds of Ozaukee County and portions of Washington County. Those district boundaries remain today.

The former West Allis Vocational School, remodeled and expanded, became the new West Campus of MATC. Simultaneously, MATC built new regional campuses in Oak Creek and Mequon, which opened in 1976.

Going Digital

In 1992, in partnership with Zenith Corp. and AT&T, Channel 10 produced the nation's first test broadcast of a digital television signal. In March 2000, the station became the first in Wisconsin to begin regular broadcast of digital, high-definition programs. Sister station WMVS-TV, Channel 36, launched the state's first multi-channel, 24-hour, high-definition broadcasts. The stations began all-digital broadcasting in 2009.

MATC entered the wireless digital era in 2003, becoming the first college in Wisconsin to provide wireless internet service throughout all campuses.

Online learning opportunities at MATC continue to skyrocket, fueled by increasing demand from students.

Hispanic Community Grows

The rise of a large Hispanic community in Milwaukee over the last 20 years changed teaching across the entire college. Working with its Office of Bilingual Education, MATC launched an array of bilingual courses catering to Hispanics, aimed at workforce development. Among them were bilingual programs in Office Assistant, Nursing Assistant, and, most recently, Phlebotomy.

We also designed condensed Spanish language courses for service professionals needing bilingual skills.

Supported by a charitable consortium led by the Gates Foundation, we are partners in Milwaukee's first two early-college, bilingual high schools, designed to put at-risk Hispanic students on a college track.

Health Programs Boom

A dramatic rise in the demand for health professionals led to the opening of the state-of-the-art Health Sciences Building at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus in 1996. The facility is dedicated to teaching the full range of health occupations, using the latest technology.

To alleviate the current statewide nursing shortage, we recently expanded our nursing programs to the Mequon Campus. MATC now has become one of the state's foremost providers of entry-level, bedside nurses. Registered nursing is the college's highest-demand program.

Governance and Funding

As a member of the Wisconsin Technical College System, we operate according to the system's policies and procedures. The WTCS Board sets annual tuition and fees for MATC and our 15 sister colleges. District boards maintain local control and levy property taxes.

Over time, this tax has become the single most important revenue source for the state's technical colleges. It now pays for about 55 percent of MATC's operating costs and has increased in direct proportion to a decline in state aid over the past two decades.

In 2014-15, the college employed 1,250 full-time faculty and staff.

Indicating strong financial health, our current bond rating from Moody's Investors Service is Aa1 with a stable outlook. Spending per full-time equivalent student in 2011-12 ranked seventh among the 16 Wisconsin Technical colleges, while serving the most students and offering the most programs.

Dr. VIcki J. Martin, MATC's 10th president, and her staff report directly to the MATC District Board, which oversees the college's operations and finances. The board meets monthly and has nine citizen volunteer members. They serve three-year terms and are appointed by a committee of Milwaukee County Executive, Milwaukee County Board Chairperson, Ozaukee County Board Chairperson and Washington County Board Chairperson.

The District Board structure ensures diversity and a voice for key stakeholders; one advisory, nonvoting seat is designated for the Student Senate. This cost-effective, proven system of governance facilitates professional management, guarantees local accountability and insulates the college from special interests.

Dedicated to student success, responsive to rapidly changing job market needs, committed to efficiency, strengthened by continuous quality improvement, Milwaukee Area Technical College is creating the future now.