Brand New Big Rig Is Big News for MATC Truck Driving Program

Students will train on a 2024 Volvo — the college’s first automatic transmission, sleeper semitruck that was customized by an MATC graduate

Mark Feldmann,

March 28, 2024

Volvo Truck 2024
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck
Volvo Truck

It’s the newest, it’s the latest and it’s the greatest.

Daniel Zdrojewski Instructional chair and lead faculty, MATC Truck Driving program

OAK CREEK – For Jose Ramirez, the open road is paved with opportunity.

He’s been in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Truck Driving program for two weeks and is excited to complete his training and get behind the wheel of a big rig.

“I really love this program,” he said. “I’m hoping I can get work to help my family. I’m hoping to earn the good money for being a truck driver.”

Ramirez and the other students in the Truck Driving program just got a cutting-edge piece of equipment to help them be successful: a 2024 Volvo VNL 760. It’s the first brand-new, automatic transmission, sleeper semitruck ever secured by the college.

“It’s the newest, it’s the latest and it’s the greatest,” said Daniel Zdrojewski, instructional chair and lead faculty of the Truck Driving program. “With this tractor, we will be ahead of most public truck driving programs.”

MATC students, faculty, staff, administrators, and  representatives from Volvo and Kriete Truck Centers gathered at MATC’s Oak Creek Campus on Wednesday, March 27, to celebrate the delivery of the new truck.

See TV coverage of event:

The VNL 760 is Volvo’s best-selling truck, according to the company’s website. The interior is spacious with ergonomic seats and easy-to-read dashboard controls. The exterior is aerodynamic to improve fuel efficiency. The truck has state-of-the-art LED lights for better visibility and reduced maintenance. 

Then there’s the truck’s industry-standard automatic transmission. 

“This truck is 97% of what comes from the factory right now,” said David Kriete, president of Kriete Truck Centers. “Any truck at almost any company is going to have this technology. Learning on this kind of truck speeds up how quickly students can get into the workforce.”

“With this truck, our students can learn the right things so when they get into the field they can do the right work,” said Phillip King, Ed.D., MATC’s executive vice president of student success.

MATC’s Truck Driving program started 10 years ago and has already produced nearly 500 graduates, said Rebecca Alsup, dean of MATC’s Manufacturing, Construction and Transportation Academic and Career Pathway. 

When the program started, students trained on mostly used trucks. Much of that equipment is now a decade old, has been driven between 300,000 and 600,000 miles, and requires constant, costly repairs, Alsup said. With the new Volvo, the college has begun a long-term plan to upgrade the program’s fleet, she said. 

MATC ordered the new semi truck several years ago from Kriete — a longtime supporter of the college in general and the MATC Drive automotive program in particular — but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed truck production and delivery to a crawl.

The truck finally arrived and MATC needed to have three additional seats installed in the sleeper berth area to facilitate training. Kriete turned to Taylor Klass, an MATC graduate, to complete the work.

Klass, a Greenfield native, graduated from MATC’s Diesel and Powertrain Servicing program in 2007. He worked at Waste Management for 14 years before becoming a master technician and master fabricator at Kriete.

“I am very careful, very exacting and very meticulous about my work, and I believe that’s why I got to do this,” said Klass, who attended the March 27 delivery event. “I think it turned out really great. It was exciting to bring it to MATC. I felt like I was coming full circle — that I was back where I started.”

Learn more about MATC’s Truck Driving program

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 30,000 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.