MPS sophomores tour MATC and explore career paths

For most high school sophomores, the days are fairly straightforward: Go to classes, eat lunch with your friends, complete your homework. Repeat.

On Thursday, March 14, their day was more exciting: They got to glimpse their future.

Nearly 2,000 10th-grade students from 20 Milwaukee Public Schools high schools visited Milwaukee Area Technical College’s four campuses to see and hear firsthand about the careers they could consider.

The event, called “Explore Your Future,” is part of the M³ (pronounced M-Cubed) initiative, an innovative collaboration among MATC, MPS, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Its goals include ensuring student success, meeting the needs of the region’s business and industry, and improving the well-being of Wisconsin citizens, their families and communities.

The March visit to MATC followed visits by 900 MPS ninth-grade students to UWM’s main campus. The students learned about UWM’s academics, student life and resources that support success; discussed possible college majors and careers; heard from a panel of current UWM students; and toured the UWM campus. 

The M³ Academic & Career Planning Team, along with partners from across our three institutions, plans and directs the tours of MATC and UWM for all MPS students in ninth and 10th grades.

At MATC, students visited the Downtown Milwaukee, Mequon, Oak Creek and West Allis campuses, and they visited various classrooms and laboratories, where instructors discussed the college’s programs. 

In the Chemical Technology Lab at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, food science instructor Marie Colmerauer told students about how she combined two passions into a career. “I loved food and I also loved my chemistry,” she said. “I found a way to do both.”

In the college’s Animation Lab, students saw computer programs used to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images for movies and video games. “You can have fun and make some money,” said animation instructor Brian Mennenoh. “When my parents heard I wanted to go into art, they thought I would starve. But I’m not starving.”

In the Baking and Pastry Arts Kitchen, students whipped frosting and decorated brownies. In the Machine Shop, instructor Terry Wezyk demonstrated a computer numerical control (CNC) machine. “Taking a piece of metal and cutting and shaping it with a piece of metal is astounding to me,” Wezyk said.  

In a short 20 minutes, MATC Culinary Arts lead faculty member Paul Carrier gave students the hands-on experience of mixing, cooking and flipping pancakes. They also dropped french fries in hot oil and enjoyed eating the results on the spot and in to-go containers.

In the college’s Al Hurvis/PEAK Transportation Center, students heard about in-demand automotive careers that can pay up to $50 an hour.

“When you know how to repair cars, you can become the most popular person in the family,” MATC automotive instructor Scott Fisler told a group of students. “And you’ll probably get bigger Christmas presents.”

These tours gave students early exposure to the colleges’ diverse educational settings and career pathways, which empowered students to make informed decisions about their future, said Nutan Amrute, MATC’s interim director of Student Career, Employment & Transfer, and one of the event organizers.

About M³ (pronounced M-Cubed): M³ seeks to transform the future of Milwaukee through education. By collaborating, coordinating and partnering, MPS, MATC and UWM will increase the retention, graduation and career success of our students and provide a prepared workforce and citizenry for Wisconsin and its economy. M³ will also provide the education and resources to help drive an entrepreneurial mindset for all students to increase choices and opportunities for growth. Find out more at