MATC’s Funeral Service program gets cutting-edge equipment

Mark Feldmann,

January 28, 2022

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Funeral Service associate degree program – the only program of its kind in Wisconsin – has acquired two pieces of innovative mortuary equipment to instruct students.

MATC recently received a SynDaver synthetic cadaver and an Anatomage digital anatomy table. The new equipment will provide state-of-the-art educational enhancement for both in-person and virtual environments, said Brian M. Stout, Ed.D., dean of MATC’s Community & Human Services Academic Pathway.           

The synthetic cadaver and anatomy table will be used in the program’s Embalming, Pathology, Restorative Art and Funeral Service Science courses for presentations and exams, Dr. Stout said.

“We have always been encouraged to seek out new technologies to meet the needs of all types of learners,” said Gabriel Schauf, coordinator of MATC’s Funeral Service program. “Some students are more hands-on and some are more visual. Resources like the SynDaver and the Anatomage table are another step for us to reach anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of our program.”

MATC is one of only five college funeral service programs in the nation to be using a SynDaver, Schauf noted.

The synthetic cadaver is a life-size body model that includes bones, organs, vessels and skin made from water, salts and fibers. The cadaver replicates the mechanical, chemical, thermal and dielectric properties of living tissue, and will be used to demonstrate techniques for locating and raising vessels, vascular injection, cavity embalming, feature setting and suturing. 

The synthetic cadaver, which measures almost 6 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds, can be sliced with a scalpel and sutured shut, Schauf said. “We can’t replicate everything that can happen to a human body, but this comes really close,” he said. “It certainly will be a huge benefit to learning.”

The Anatomage table contains digital images of actual cadavers presented in different formats and views. Users can visualize anatomy exactly as they would on a fresh cadaver. Students can interact with and observe different body systems in intricate detail.

MATC currently has several Anatomage tables, but this will be the first one to be used exclusively by the Funeral Service program, Schauf said. 

The new equipment will be used during the Spring 2022 semester and evaluated during the summer. “We’re expecting some trial and error and getting to know what we really can do,” Schauf said. “That will set us up well for the fall.”

The Funeral Service program prepares students for a career as a licensed funeral director and embalmer in a profession that demands compassion, dedication and creativity. Students who complete the program will earn an associate degree and be eligible to take the National Board Exam for funeral directors, which is required for licensure.

“We’re grateful to everyone who put their faith in us and helped in the process of securing this equipment,” Schauf said. “These items will make an excellent program even better.”