MATC launches sustainable development degree

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

The Oak Creek campus of Milwaukee Area Technical College recently opened the doors to its $9 million, 32,500-square-foot center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing.

Dubbed ECAM, the new building is making strides in the realm of energy efficiency and the highly technical future of manufacturing.

The new building also will help MATC become the first college in Wisconsin to offer a degree in sustainable development, said Joseph Jacobsen, associate dean for MATC’s Oak Creek campus.

ECAM was financed through a public/private partnership consisting of $4 million in cash, equipment and labor donations from private industry and trade unions and MATC’s contribution of $5 million.

Jacobsen recently completed the first course outline he will teach, beginning in January, called, “Energy: Sustainable Development in Industrial and Commercial Buildings.”

By combining current offerings, there are more than 28 classes in the MATC catalog that fall under the sustainable development umbrella, and with the creation of a few more degree-specific courses, Jacobsen hopes MATC can offer an associate’s degree on the topic by fall of 2009.

The course offerings and the eventual degree program will prepare students, both undergraduate and professional, for the future of building technology and manufacturing, Jacobsen said.

A combination of an impending demand for workers when baby boomers retire and the increase in interest in sustainable development, energy management and environmental controls made ECAM and its courses a necessary offering from MATC, Jacobsen said.

“Ten years ago, there was no such thing as a sustainable development coordinator or director, an energy manager or energy technician,” Jacobsen said. “These are new jobs in relatively new areas.”

The course in sustainable development will cover several aspects, including energy; sustainable facility and plant operations; and sustainable project management.

Students will learn about energy options, energy innovations, facilities management systems, energy performance contracting, the U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification; optimizing operations for building services, computerized maintenance management systems and preventative and predictive maintenance.

“The course is not just about photovoltaic cells, it is about jobs,” Jacobsen said. “Facilities and plant managers need to take this course to operate building more efficiently. And when buildings operate more efficiently, companies save money.”

ECAM consists of laboratories where students learn about energy efficiency and manufacturing processes, including: advanced manufacturing technologies; energy solutions; advanced software applications; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) digital controls; and skills assessment and certification.

The high-tech and energy efficient machinery, including the rapid prototyping lab, expose students to the types of machines they will be using in the workforce.

“The idea is to sit at the edge of the industry at large, and as the industry develops, we want to develop so real jobs are waiting for our students,” Jacobsen said.

“This is a huge benefit to employers because when graduates walk into a company, they have credentials on manufacturing skills, safety, quality and process,” said Dorothy Walker, associate dean of manufacturing programs for MATC.

ECAM also has classes that prepare undergraduate and professional students for certification exams in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, commissioning agent certification, lean manufacturing certification and different levels of Six Sigma, Jacobsen said.

MATC will also work one-on-one with area companies through its corporate learning offering, which provides seminar-style education customized for a group of employees, and through its ongoing partnership with the surrounding community.

Companies and organizations involved on the external steering advisory committee for ECAM include: Johnson Controls Inc., Glendale; Bucyrus International Inc., South Milwaukee; Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee; Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee; Focus on Energy, Madison; P&H Mining Equipment, Milwaukee; Reich Tool & Design Inc., Menomonee Falls; Milwaukee Public Schools; Manutec Inc., Milwaukee; International Union of Operating Engineers, Washington, D.C.; South Suburban Chamber of Commerce (formerly SECUB), Franklin and Oak Creek; We Energies, Milwaukee; Superior Die Set Corp., Oak Creek; Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Milwaukee; Sheet Metal Workers Local 18, Milwaukee; and United Steel Workers of America, Pittsburgh, Penn.

MATC hopes ECAM can be seen as an institution with the technology available to help individuals get to the next level, Walker said.

“When companies are trying to determine how best to decrease their ecological footprint there must be a system in place on the technical side so the staff have at their fingertips technical information, what fits well with organizations, what they are trying to achieve and cost/benefit analysis,” Jacobsen said. “MATC provides that.”

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