Saturday – January 25, 2020

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. Founded in 1912, MATC has played a crucial role in the growth of the greater Milwaukee community.

We offer more than 170 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, barbering/cosmetology, information technology, office administration, entrepreneurship, marketing and accounting.
  • School of Health Sciences prepares students for employment in hospitals, clinics, dental offices, pharmacies and more. Programs include careers in direct patient care and healthcare administration; also the region's only funeral service program.
  • 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. The school also features occupational programs in teacher education, human services and chemical processing.
  • School of Media and Creative Arts fosters innovations in digital artistry and new technologies. Associate degrees include Audio Production, Computer Simulation and Gaming, Web & Digital Media Design, Music Occupations, and Television and Video Production.
  • School of Pre-College Education prepares students for college coursework, to earn a GED, HSED or Adult High School diploma, or to take English as a Second Language classes. 
  • 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.


Prepared for Bright Futures

More than 30,000 students a year choose MATC because they want targeted, practical instruction and training for their career of choice.

More than 89 percent of December 2017/May 2018 graduates were employed within six months of graduation.

Most full-time students are pursuing associate degrees and technical 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 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. Hands-on labs with equipment used in the industry, smaller class sizes and individual attention enhance the learning experience. 


Easy Access and Online Learning

MATC offers day, evening and weekend classes, and many options for online learning.

Our four full-service campuses are:

  • 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 

In addition, MATC has two education centers:

  • Downtown Milwaukee Campus Health Education Center (HEC), 1311 North Sixth Street
  • MATC Education Center at Walker's Square, 816 West National Avenue, Milwaukee


A pioneer in online learning, MATC offers more than 15 programs entirely online, plus hundreds of online courses.

MATC courses also are taught at numerous evening centers and community-based sites.

The college 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 community-based organizations.

Also, MATC's transfer agreements with more than 35 four-year colleges and universities provide our associate degree graduates convenient access to those institutions.


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. The average age of our student population is 30.

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.


Sustainability Initiatives

MATC has been recognized as a national pioneer in sustainability efforts and green technology initiatives. 

In 2016, the college received a Climate Leadership Honorable Mention Award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council in partnership with Second Nature. The award recognizes innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability and climate change mitigation among two-year and four-year colleges/universities.

In collaboration with Johnson Controls, the college 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 PBS 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 also is a local leader in wind technology. Mequon Campus has one of the largest wind turbines 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 provides 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; $1.5 billion is the added annual income due to the activities of MATC alumni and former students in the workforce, the college's activities/contributions and student spending.

MATC students have a 15.8% average annual rate of return on their educational investment recovering all costs, including tuition, fees and forgone wages.

(Data: Emsi report published 2018)


Continuous Evolution

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

The college introduced the MATC Promise for New High School Graduates in 2015; it was the first program of its kind in the state. It provides free tuition, after federal and state financial grant aid has been applied, for area high school graduates who meet program eligibility requirements. The MATC Promise for New High School Graduates helps area high school students realize their dream of attending college and preparing for a career.

In May 2018, the MATC Promise for Adults was launched to help eligible adults finish their degree. This program provides free tuition for eligible students 24 years and older to complete an in-demand associate degree. 

The southeastern Wisconsin business community will benefit from more residents who have received the education and training necessary for so many careers that are essential for the region's economic prosperity and vitality. The MATC Promise is made possible through the generosity of MATC Foundation donors. 

M3 (pronounced M-cubed) launched to transform the future of Milwaukee through education. In 2017, MATC, Milwaukee Public Schools and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee officially launched M3, a joint education initiative to produce greater student success and career preparedness. 

To help address the state's nursing shortage, a $2.3 million grant from United Health Foundation, announced in January 2017, will enable MATC to double the size of its registered nursing program over the next three years.

A challenge grant announced in March 2017 will expand automotive programs and create the Al Hurvis/PEAK Transportation Center on the Downtown Milwaukee Campus. The $3 million grant would be the largest private gift in MATC's history.

In 2016, Milwaukee Public Television (MPTV) changed its name to Milwaukee PBS, signifying that the enterprise is a locally governed community resource serving the needs of local viewers and is the region's primary broadcaster of programming from the Public Broadcasting Service.

New associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs are developed in response to the workforce needs of local industry. Some of the newest academic programs include:

  • Automated building systems and green technology areas with training at the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) at the Oak Creek Campus
  • Associate in Arts Degree with Community Engagement Track to meet the demand of nonprofit organizations and government agencies for qualified staff to engage in community organizing, fundraising, communication, public engagement and leadership
  • New certificate and technical diploma in automotive training to meet employer needs and provide employees with clear educational pathways to increase their training and advance in their career
  • New certificates and technical diplomas to create an IT Computer Support career pathway that enables students to start with a one-semester certificate and progress to higher educational credentials with in-demand job skills


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

Working with its Office of Bilingual Education, MATC supported the region's growing Hispanic population with the development of an array of bilingual courses for Hispanic students, including Early Childhood Education associate degree and Dental Assistant, Nursing Assistant and Child Care Services technical diploma programs.

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

Supported by a charitable consortium led by the Gates Foundation, we were 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

MATC has responded to the region's increased needs for healthcare professionals throughout its history. A dramatic rise in the demand to fill healthcare-related jobs in the 1980s-90s 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. MATC has become one of the state's foremost providers of entry-level, bedside nurses.


Recession and Enrollment Growth

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.


Rapid Advancements in Digital Technology Occupations

Responding to the growing demand for professionals with skills in the interactive electronic technologies, the college created the School of Media and Creative Arts. Associate degree and technical diploma programs developed include Animation, Audio Production, Computer Simulation and Gaming, eProduction and Front-End Web Developer.


Funding and Governance

As a member of the Wisconsin Technical College System, we operate according to the system's policies and procedures. MATC relies on three primary funding sources – student tuition, district property tax and State support. The WTCS Board sets annual tuition and fees for MATC and our 15 sister colleges. District boards maintain local control and levy property taxes.

MATC has a strong Aa1 bond rating from Moody's Investors Service.

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 and strengthened by continuous quality improvement, Milwaukee Area Technical College is transforming lives, industry and community.