MAT2 program: A student’s perspective

February 3, 2014

in Talent Enhancement

For the month of February, we will be featuring stories surrounding talent in Michigan. For our first post, we highlight Kelsey Erne, a student involved with the Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program studying Mechatronics at Oakland Community College.   

According to a recent report by STEMconnector, in 2012 there were more than 7.4 million workers in STEM careers, and by 2018, there could be more than 8.6 million workers. However, only 24.8 percent of graduating seniors are interested in pursuing a career in the STEM industries.

The new Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program (MAT2) is helping meet the demand for skilled employees in the manufacturing industry by teaching students theoretical and practical skills in the Mechatronics field. Students attending the program receive a salary and have all tuition fees paid for by their employer. At the end of the program, students are guaranteed a job with one of the participating manufacturing companies in Michigan.

I was always interested in science and technology growing up. When I graduated high school, without a clear goal in mind, I chose to attend OCC and obtained an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. I was unsure of what to do next, and that’s where I learned about the MAT2 program.

My mom, who works at OCC, told me about the program. She gave me a pamphlet and encouraged me to apply. I’ve always been very interested in science and math, but it wasn’t until after I researched MAT2 that I discovered the program fit me like a glove – it fit my style of learning, the classes that interested me, and it was completely free schooling, which was one of my big concerns about college. With my mother being a single parent, I didn’t want to put extra pressure on her to help me pay for school.

The biggest benefit to the program is the guaranteed job after graduation; this was probably my number one reason for choosing it. So, I applied right away. I am extremely grateful that I am privileged enough to be a part of such a spectacular program.

Once I started the program, I realized how diverse the group is. We have people that are already married with kids and some that are still kids themselves.  We also have students that are very skilled in some areas and weaker in others.

Teamwork is a skill that many of our employers are looking for. Brose, my company sponsor, made it clear that teamwork was a huge part of the company mission statement. I truly believe this group has embraced the term “teamwork” wholeheartedly. Over these last couple weeks we have, in a sense, become our own family. Not only do we help each other out whatever way we can, we also enjoy being around each other.

This program is the first of its kind and the group at HCC and OCC has the opportunity to be the first to show the success of the program.. I’ve heard students in the group say, “If one of us fails, we all fail. We are a team and we will work as a team, here at school as well as in the work place.”  Coming from someone with college experience, this type of team mentality doesn’t normally exist in other classes and programs. With this program, I walk in (almost) every morning, with a smile on my face because I am looking forward to not only learning, but seeing my second family, the MAT2 group.

For my career, I plan to work my way up to management from the shop floor. This program will certainly help me with my end goal and will give me an advantage over other candidates because of the hands on experience.  It’s true when people say, “you never truly know something unless you’ve lived it.” I will have lived the life on the shop floor and will have a better understanding of how to be a good manager.

Having toured all 3 Brose locations in Michigan, I now understand that manufacturing is not just making large quantities of parts and selling them. It is much more than that. Manufacturing is a well rounded career that deals with not only the buying and selling of parts to other companies, but also with the business and testing side of things.

I cannot say enough good things about this program. It has given me everything I need to succeed. Without it, I would probably be at a different college studying something I really had no interest in, without a clear goal in mind. But instead, I am getting paid experience while studying topics I am actually excited about, and looking forward to starting a career in a field that is new and exciting.

Kelsey Erne currently attends Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills, Michigan and is working towards her extended associate’s degree in mechatronics with the help of the MAT2 program.

Interested in learning more about the MAT2 program? Learn more at the Pure Michigan Talent Connect: http://www.mitalent.org/mat2/.

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