Making a World Class Impression: German Students and Teachers Visit MATC

Mark Feldmann,

October 13, 2023

German Students
German Students
German Students
German Students
German Students

Programs like these help bring the world together.

Jay Grossert MATC Automotive Technology instructor

MILWAUKEE – Markus Hohler marvels at Fiserv Forum, the soaring sports arena that’s home to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

“Everything in America seems so much bigger — the buildings and the roads,” said Hohler, an automotive technology instructor from Giessen, Germany.

Milwaukee has made quite an impression on Hohler and a group of students who recently traveled more than 4,200 miles from Germany to Milwaukee Area Technical College. The 11 students and two teachers spent a week learning about MATC’s programs, visiting regional businesses and enjoying recreational activities in the area.

The German students are studying automotive technology, mechatronics or industrial machining at the Theodor-Litt-Schule, a school in Giessen, a town of 90,000 people about an hour from Frankfurt in northern Germany.

“When you travel, you get to encounter things that are different — not good, not bad, just different,” said Wibke Engelhardt, the other teacher in the group. “Traveling is a great experience. For our students, being on a trip like this could someday make the difference in getting a job over someone else.”

At MATC, the German students climbed power poles at the Electrical Power Distribution program at the Mequon Campus, tried out truck driving simulators at the Oak Creek Campus and studied autonomous mobile robots in the robotics lab in the Technical Building at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus.

“We get great help from the MATC instructors for this program,” said Jay Grossert, an automotive technology instructor at MATC’s Mequon Campus and a member of the trip’s planning committee. “Their assistance and enthusiasm for showing these students what we have at the college is invaluable.”

MATC’s skilled instructors, state-of-the-art equipment, dedicated labs, shops and workspaces gave the German students a chance to expand their horizons and consider different career choices, Hohler said.

At MATC and other American schools, the working world is replicated in the classroom, while in Germany, students serve apprenticeships at actual factories, plants and facilities.

“Here they have a chance to try it and see what they think about it,” Hohler said. “Maybe they get inspired.” 

The MATC program was created after Engelhardt participated in a teacher exchange between Wisconsin and Hesse, a state in Germany. She became acquainted with several MATC instructors and a partnership was established in 2007. A group of German students and teachers from Giessen have visited MATC almost every fall since then. The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the trips scheduled in 2020 and 2021.

In the past, MATC has fostered an international exchange by sending students and instructors to Giessen. The college hopes to offer that trip again in 2025, Grossert said. 

“Programs like these help bring the world together,” Grossert said. “You get to see different cultures, different training procedures, different global dynamics. It’s a way to connect people.”

Learn about MATC's international educational opportunities to study abroad

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. Nearly 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; and 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.