Full STEM Ahead: MATC Opens New Center Dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

STEM Educational Center will support classroom success, community engagement and industry partnerships

Mark Feldmann, feldmam1@matc.edu

September 29, 2023

STEM ribbon cutting
STEM Ribbon Cutting
STEM Ribbon Cutting
STEM Ribbon Cutting
STEM Ribbon Cutting
STEM Ribbon Cutting

This is a place where our students can get to know one another and develop relationships. Studies have shown this can improve retention and persistence rates. We have a STEM pathway at the college so there is a lot of meaning to having a STEM Educational Center.

Kamela J. Goodwyn, Ph.D. Dean, MATC STEM Pathway

For Alham Alipuly, Milwaukee Area Technical College’s shiny, new 10,000 square-foot space dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) set off a major reaction.

A Kazakhstan native who was educated and trained as a chemist in South Korea before coming to the United States, Alipuly was among nearly 100 MATC administrators, faculty, staff, students, industry partners and guests who officially opened the STEM Educational Center at the college’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus on Friday, September 29.

“This is such a wonderful opportunity,” said Alipuly, who enrolled in MATC’s Chemical Technician program in August to find work in his new country. “Not only will this be a place for current science students, but it might help other students who are undecided about what they want to do to enter the STEM field.”

MATC has about 1,000 students in its STEM Academic and Career Pathway, which offers certificates, technical diplomas and associate degrees in about 30 different programs that lead to careers in civil engineering, quality engineering, mechanical design technology, mechanical and computer drafting, electronics technology and information technology.

And the new center is dedicated to those students, said Kamela J. Goodwyn, Ph.D., dean of MATC’s STEM Pathway. “This is a place where our students can get to know one another and develop relationships. Studies have shown this can improve retention and persistence rates,” Goodwyn said. “We have a STEM Pathway at the college so there is a lot of meaning to having a STEM Educational Center.”

“This will be a game changer,” said Mohammad Dakwar, Ed.D., MATC’s vice president of learning. “Our goal is to inspire students and enhance their experience. The STEM Educational Center will help them do that.”

The center, which took four years to plan, develop, renovate and equip, includes monitors and whiteboards, tables, desks, couches, storage boxes and workspaces. Tall windows allow passersby to easily see robotic and technological equipment on display.

At that opening event, STEM faculty and students shared demonstrations on 3D printing, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, electronics engineering technology, and information technology. Alipuly wore a crisp, white lab coat while demonstrating chemistry experiments at the event. A mobile STEM lab in a recreational vehicle was positioned outside the center where students and staff conducted demos and showcased equipment.

“This is another shining example of the great work we are doing,” said MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D., at the opening. “We want our students to know they are welcomed and that they belong. They can learn here and be supported here.”

Jobs in STEM fields are plentiful and lucrative. In 2021, there were nearly 10 million workers in STEM occupations and this total is projected to grow almost 11% by 2031 — over two times faster than the total for all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Median annual wages as of May 2021 were $95,420 for STEM occupations, compared to $40,120 for non-STEM occupations.

But STEM still needs more diversity in the workforce, Goodwyn said. At MATC, 29% of STEM students are women, 24.4% are Black and 20.2% are Hispanic/Latino/a. “We have to diversify the STEM talent pipeline through early access, mentorship and job availability,” she said. 

Along with ensuring student success, the STEM Educational Center will be used to encourage students in K-12 to pursue STEM in college and as a career, and to establish and strengthen STEM industry partnerships in Wisconsin and beyond, Goodwyn said.

“This is a great day for STEM, not just for MATC but for the entire Milwaukee community,” said Rich Merkel, executive director of STEM Forward, one of the college’s STEM partners. “We are excited about the energy and learning that will go on here. You can never have enough on-ramps for STEM.”

Learn about MATC’s STEM offerings

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 28,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.