Ted Wilinski

By Ted Wilinski, MATC automated building systems instructor

MATC will host the 14th annual Sustainability Summit at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus May 3-4. The theme of this year’s summit is “Building a Sustainable Future: Making it Work!  The event is free and includes a job fair from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on May 3.

The summit will feature speakers and breakout sessions that address emerging global realities. Topics include energy, water, lifestyle, business, workforce, education, energy efficiency, financing, green agriculture, green building, green business and manufacturing, green careers, innovation, recycling, renewables, social responsibility and transportation.

Among the major speakers are Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MATC president; Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks president; Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power; Dr. Mark Mone, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee chancellor; Richard Appaiah Otoo, chief manager, Ghana Water Company, Ltd.; Stephen Hargarten, associate dean, Office of Global Health at the Medical College of Wisconsin; and Momodu Maligi, minister of water resources, Sierra Leone.

For a complete listing of speakers, events, and to register, visit the summit website at http://www.sustainabilitysummit.us/

There are many actions we can all take at a personal level to help reduce costs and our carbon footprints. Here are some suggestions:

 If you are not using it, turn it off:

  • space heaters
  • extra refrigerators or freezers
  • televisions
  • lights
  • Always use the energy saving mode on your computers (for monitor and the CPU), and always turn both off when not in use! The saving mode is available for those times you forget.

Transition lighting to LEDs: 

  • You may prefer warm white to soft white or day bright bulbs, because they are are closer to color of incandescent lights.
  • If choosing lighting by color temperature, the lower the number (3000K or less), the closer to an incandescent bulb color.
  • Often, the less expensive bulbs don’t “put out as much light” as people are used to seeing. You may need to buy a 75W equivalent as opposed to 60W equivalent to get the same effect.
  • Sometimes the less expensive bulbs hum, although this problem is becoming less prevalent.

Other lighting tips:

  • Use motion sensors.
  • Use photo sensors on outside lights.

Water savings:

  • Use rain barrels instead of city or well water for watering plants in the summer.
  • Let yard go dry. Dry grass naturally goes dormant.
  • Install low-flow toilets. These work well and are quieter than the old style units.
  • Buy high-efficiency dishwashers and washing machines. This saves both water and energy.
  • Use low-flow shower heads.
  • Limit the time you are in the shower to less than 10 minutes.

Saving on heat and air conditioning:

  • Seal all leaks around doors, windows, foundation, etc.
  • Space heaters – When using space heaters in the house, use only electric heaters for safety. Use them sparingly. These are best used when staying in one room, so you can keep the rest of the home at a cooler temperature.

Appliances:

  • Always try to buy high-efficiency Energy Star appliances.

Solar power:

  • Consider using solar power after making your home as energy efficient as possible. Many financing options are available and the price has dropped tremendously.

 

 

Megan Rosa

By Megan Rosa, MATC public safety specialist

 April is Theft Prevention Month at MATC. The Public Safety Department will offer a series of campus events to raise awareness and help the college community prevent theft.  Stay tuned to MyMATC or MATC’s social media for more information.

Theft is the most common crime that occurs at many colleges and universities. It also is the most preventable. Students, instructors and staff members often carry valuable and portable items that criminals target. To better understand how to avoid becoming a victim, we should think of theft in terms of a “crime triangle” in which three elements are needed for a theft to occur:  motive, capability and opportunity.

Motive refers to the desire to commit a crime. While it is difficult to influence someone’s motives, you can make yourself a less attractive target by conducting yourself in a way that increases the likelihood of a thief being caught.  If the risk outweighs the reward, offenders are not likely to commit a theft.

Capability refers to the ability to commit a crime. By taking steps to make theft as difficult as possible, we can all reduce the ability for thieves commit crime on our campuses.

Opportunity is the opening a thief needs to obtain his/her objective. The majority of thefts are crimes of opportunity. Offenders generally aren’t hatching elaborate plans to steal your property.  It’s more likely someone saw your belongings unattended, decided he/she wanted something, weighed the risk of getting caught, and decided the risk was worth the reward of a “free cell phone” or other property.

When we reduce or eliminate any of these elements, we can greatly reduce the risk of theft on campus. The following are easy and effective steps to keep you and your belongings safe.

Keep belongings secured or out of sight

NEVER LEAVE YOUR VALUABLES UNATTENDED. Most thefts are the result of property left out in the open or in unsecured classrooms and offices.  If you’re not using an item, secure it in your backpack, locker, desk or cabinet. Or store valuables and “evidence of valuables” out of sight in your vehicle. Use your trunk or other compartments to store valuables, including docking stations or charging cords.

Use appropriate locking devices and security

When securing valuables in a locker, be sure to use a sturdy lock.  When you secure the lock, double check to ensure that it is properly positioned. Give it a firm tug to ensure it has properly latched before walking away.

This also applies to bicycles. MATC provides areas for individuals to secure their bicycles, however you need to provide an effective lock.  We suggest “U-locks,” as they are difficult and time consuming to breach.  We also recommend securing the bicycle using two security points, such as both the frame and a wheel.

When securing valuables in a desk or cabinet, consider also placing them out of sight.  In other words, don’t let your valuables be the first thing an offender sees if he/she does find a way into a locked room, desk or cabinet.

Be alert and aware of your surroundings

This is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent theft on campus. Keep your attention focused on your surroundings and don’t be distracted by your cell phone or other electronics. Offenders are much less likely to commit thefts if they know someone is watching.

Report all thefts or suspicious activity 

Reporting detailed information quickly and accurately can make the difference in an offender being deterred or caught. Contact MATC Public Safety as soon as possible if your property is stolen or if you observe suspicious activity or unprotected property. Public Safety can always be reached at 414-297-6588.

We can all contribute to a safe campus environment by following these simple steps. Public Safety has offices at all four campuses and looks forward to working with you to eliminate “crimes of opportunity” on all of our campuses.  We are available to demonstrate safety features or assist with risk assessments. Contact us at PublicSafety@matc.edu for more information.

 

 

jennifer-mikulay

By Jennifer Mikulay, MATC associate dean, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Every March each of us has an opportunity to learn more about what we can do to improve conditions for women by participating in Women’s History Month events. The events below represent my “top 10” selections:

March 2 at noon, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Women’s and Gender Studies Brown Bag Series will host Fran Kaplan of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. Kaplan’s presentation is entitled “Bread & Roses: The Birth of Feminist Healthcare in Milwaukee.”

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange. The focus for this global event is gender inclusion and acceleration of gender equity. On March 5, a local celebration of International Women’s Day will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee from 1-4 p.m.

March 9 at 6 p.m., Marquette University will host a forum “Celebrating Women: Lesbian, Bi and Queer Women” at the student union.

March 11 from 2 -5 p.m., the Madison Public Library will host the “Art + Feminism Edit-a-thon” where anyone can use library resources to improve the quality of Wikipedia’s coverage of topics related to women. In 2011, a researcher found that only 10 percent of Wikipedia content was contributed by women. Efforts like the “Art + Feminism Edit-a-thon” seek to remedy this disparity by providing support and assistance to women who’d like to learn to contribute to one of the most popular websites in the world.

March 15 at 7 p.m., Boswell Books will feature Debra Majeed, a religious studies professor at Beloit College. Majeed will discuss her new book, Polygyny: What It Means When African American Muslim Women Share Their Husbands, which addresses a complex set of emotional, spiritual, relational and legal issues.

March 18 at 1 p.m., the Milwaukee Art Museum is hosting a tour for members to look at significant works made by women or representing significant female subjects. Examples may include contemporary works by sculptor Eva Hesse, conceptual artist Kara Walker and street photographer Helen Levitt.

March 21 at 6 p.m., stop by the Milwaukee Public Library’s East Branch to learn about how women operate in one male-dominated field: the beer industry. Tami Plourde, part owner of Pearl Street Brewery in LaCrosse, will explain how women are making inroads, including through ownership at New Glarus Brewery and leading as brewmaster at Capital Brewing Company.

March 27 at 4 p.m., MATC’s women’s softball team will play Concordia University. Women are still underrepresented in college and professional sports, so joining Stormers fans in the stands is a great way to show your support.

March 29 at 7 p.m., hear legendary activist Angela Davis speak at Marquette University’s Al McGuire Center. Among her many amazing contributions, Dr. Davis is a leading voice advocating intersectionality as a way to understand contemporary women’s experiences as simultaneously informed by race, class and gender.

womens-studies-vel-phillips

MATC “Introduction to Women’s Studies” students, instructor Rose Lee and associate dean Jennifer Mikulay join Milwaukee-based civil rights and community pioneer Vel Phillips, family and guests to celebrate her birthday. (Phillips is at the head of the table with Mikulay to her immediate left. Lee is in the gray sweater and head band.) Photo by Mark Duerr.

I hope to see you at one of these events. Please say hello if you attend. If Women’s History Month sparks continued interest in learning about women’s issues, consider enrolling in “Introduction to Women’s Studies” (SOCSCI 211) at MATC–it’s a new transferrable course developed by instructor Rose Lee. The course gives students an opportunity to explore the ways in which gender influences our experiences, with special attention to differences shaped by race and class.

Happy Women’s History Month!

 

 

 

kate-cunningham

By Kate Cunnigham, MATC counselor

Ah, winter in Wisconsin! Like many who reside at our particular latitude, we’re starting to feel the drag right about now – the holidays are over, the snow isn’t “festive” anymore, driving can be hazardous, and it’s cold/dark/nasty out. If the winter blues have come your way, you’re not alone; fortunately, you’re not helpless either. There are some simple things you can do to help combat feeling down or depressed during the winter months. Give some of the following a try:

Stick to a routine

Get out of bed at a certain hour every day and do something (go to class, exercise, clean, call a family member, etc.). Even if you’re not really feeling it, keeping up with your regular activities can help keep the blues from getting worse.

Exercise

Exercise can be a powerful tool in managing symptoms of depression or anxiety. In fact, there’s good evidence that suggests that over time a moderate, regular exercise routine can be as effective in treating mood disorders as a low-dose antidepressant. The Downtown Milwaukee Campus gym is accessible to current MATC students, faculty and staff alike; if that doesn’t appeal to you, go the DIY route. Find a spot you can dance around, do some sit-ups, or just take a walk a few times a week. If you visit the Main Building during the lunch hour, you may notice some resourceful folks with step trackers making good use of the hallways and stairwells – there’s no wrong way to do it, so long as you move.

Get into the light

The winter months bring some dreary days to Wisconsin, and yes, this can absolutely affect your mood. Take advantage of when we do get a little sunshine to find a window to sit in and soak up some of that light. Some people are so affected by the reduction in sunlight during the winter that getting a sun lamp can be a worthwhile investment.

Boost your nutrition

What you eat – or don’t eat – can affect your mood, too. If your regular diet is short on nutrients (even if it’s not short on calories), this can contribute to feeling down or sluggish. You don’t need to go crazy to make an improvement in your daily nutrition – you can eat a carrot, an apple, or whatever produce is in-season and cheap. While you’re at it, drink a glass of milk with that doughnut and get a little more protein and Vitamin D in your life. If you can get your hands on a multivitamin (it doesn’t need to be fancy – generic works just fine), that can be helpful as well.

Grow your altruistic side

Take time regularly to focus on helping someone else. Believe it or not, one of the surest ways to feel good yourself is by doing things for others. You can volunteer formally at one of the many local organizations that would be happy to have your help, or do something casual like shovel your neighbor’s walk. If there’s a particular social issue that you’re especially drawn to (homelessness, domestic violence, food insecurity, etc.), find out how to get involved and make an impact at the community level.

Connect

Make plans with people you enjoy spending time with. Don’t just agree you’ll hang out “sometime.” Put it on a calendar so you remember and you’re committed. Many people want to isolate themselves when they’re feeling down, and this can make mood issues worse. You don’t have to pour your heart out to your friends and loved ones if you don’t want to, just plan some time to see them. Even if you’re not feeling especially social, don’t flake out. Chances are you’ll benefit from the effort.

Remember, if you start to feel so down that it’s affecting your ability to work, learn, care for yourself, or parent, this is when it’s time to seek out some professional help and support. Talk to your doctor or seek out counseling on your own. If you need help getting a referral, you can call your insurance company or call 211 for a list of community resources. And if you’re having thoughts of self-harm, harm to others or suicide, don’t wait – get to a hospital emergency room right away, or call 911.

 

 

dave-stuartBy Dave Stuart, MATC environmental systems and automated buildings systems instructor

By now, we’ve all noticed that winter has arrived with a vengeance. If you are anything like me, you would like to save money this winter on home heating. The cost of heating your home can be 45 percent or more of your utility bill, so any savings can really add up.

If you haven’t done so already, start by having your furnace or boiler inspected. Some companies call this a “tune up” or a “clean and check.” This can be money well spent.  Having your system inspected by a professional can assure you that it is running safely and efficiently.

It also can save you from a potentially expensive service call down the road. While your service technician is cleaning, adjusting and calibrating your heating system, he or she may be able to identify a part that may potentially fail soon. Taking care of it now can give you peace of mind that it won’t fail later, leaving you without heat.

An often overlooked task you handle yourself is changing your furnace filter. If you have a forced air furnace or heat pump, the filter should be changed regularly. This ensures that the heating system is able to deliver the heat to your space as easily and efficiently as possible. It can reduce run times of your system and wear and tear on system parts. I recommend a standard pleated filter.

Next, consider adjusting your thermostat. For every degree cooler you set it, you can save as much as five percent on heating energy use.  If you don’t have one, you might consider buying a programmable thermostat. This allows you to set a schedule that will automatically turn down your heat when you aren’t home or are asleep.

Many new thermostats come with Wi-Fi capability. These are handy when your schedule varies from day to day. The Wi-Fi thermostat gives you the ability to adjust your thermostat from a smart phone or other internet-connected device. You also can monitor your home from your phone or tablet.  If you are out of town on vacation, you can check in to see that your heating system is working.

Be careful how low you set your thermostat. If you turn the heat down too far, you run the risk of freezing water pipes that may be in exterior walls of your house. In addition, if you have a boiler heating system, turning your heat down too much may mean that your system can’t recover or catch back up when you are home.

Next, make sure you aren’t blocking vents or baseboard heaters with furniture or rugs. Blocking your heating outlets causes your system to run longer to maintain temperature and leads to drafty spaces. Consider rearranging furniture so that seating areas are on the interior walls rather than near the windows, moving you out of the path of drafts.

I would not recommend closing vents in unused rooms. With older heating systems this may have been okay, but with newer systems this could actually cause excess wear on the system and drive efficiency down. If you would like to close vents, ask your service technician for an opinion as to whether your system can handle it.

Are your windows latched?  Many windows are designed to seal tighter when the latches are secured. Inspect the weather stripping on your doors. Air leaks on exterior walls cause a great deal of energy loss. Sealing up those leaks can lead to substantial energy savings. Some air leaks around pipes and conduits can be permanently sealed, while windows and patio doors can be temporarily sealed.

Finally, check your water heater. It should be set to no higher than 120 degrees.  If it is set too high, you could be spending money unnecessarily and running the risk of scalding yourself and your family.

If these steps allowed you to save enough money to travel to a warm climate this winter, don’t forget to turn your water heater down. Many people overlook the water heater when going on vacation. A standard water heater may cycle on several times a day to maintain temperature.  If you aren’t home to use the water, then why pay to heat it?

Hopefully, these tips will help you stay warmer and save some money in the process.

judy-springer-cropped

By Judy Springer, MATC physical education instructor

No time… Too tired… No fun… I feel out of place… What’s in it for me?

Too often the excuses for exercising outweigh the desire to get moving.  However, when using the following strategies, physical activity seems to be the perfect remedy for many of life’s ills. Let’s “walk” through the most up-to-date information on managing stress effectively for better health and wellness.

Winning Tool for Stress Relief

Stress is an undeniable part of life. Seven of 10 adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives. In most cases, physical activity can be a powerful tool for managing daily stress. While there are many coping techniques such as reading and talking with others, exercise with its physical and mental benefits may be the one most recommended by health professionals. Studies suggest that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.

Physical activity bumps up the production of endorphins – your brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. It also improves the ability to sleep, which in turn aids in managing stress. Conventional wisdom holds that a regular low-to-moderate activity habit makes you feel energized and healthy by decreasing overall levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes mood and improves self-esteem. Even five minutes of walking the hallways between classes or during lunch time can set ‘anti-anxiety’ processes in motion.

Activity to Counter Family History of Heart Disease

The holiday season often means spending more time with family and friends. Spending time with family can be fun and energizing, but also reminds us that our own health is impacted by our genetics. A new analysis of data published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests good news is at hand – our genetics are only one factor when it comes to the risk for heart disease. By choosing healthy lifestyles –not smoking; exercising moderately; and eating a healthy diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and whole grains – individuals can reduce the effect of being dealt a less than optimal genetic hand. 

Let Your Routine Take Shape

A successful exercise and lifestyle activity program begins with a few simple steps. Start low and go slow. Build up your fitness routine gradually. Consistency is the key to managing stress through physical activity, so begin at a level that is comfortable for you to take small, manageable steps to better health. For instance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to “sneak” in exercise during the day. Parking the car as far from the entrance as possible is a great aid in increasing steps throughout the day.

Choose activities you enjoy. Practically any form of exercise or movement can improve fitness while decreasing stress. The most important thing is to choose an activity that you enjoy. Cycling, stair climbing, yoga, walking, running, swimming, weightlifting and gardening are all examples of movement activities.

Still searching for an option? Students can enroll in an MATC physical education course to try their hands at dance, yoga, basketball, or volleyball. You will have a blast AND earn college credit. Or try the Student Fitness Center for a quick workout between classes or as an “end-of-day” stress reliever. Faculty and staff can choose professional development classes to earn credit while working out to relax, participate in an open gym session or hike the hallways to clear their minds.

physical-activity-2

physical-activity-1

Photos taken during MATC physical education courses.

Schedule your activity. Planning some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program more of a habit, which leads to consistency and desired outcomes. Record your proposed activity in your calendar to ensure that your daily dose is taken as prescribed. 

Know Your Resources

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for tapping into tried and true strategies to stick with a new routine or reinvigorate a tired workout:

Buddy up. Having a friend waiting for you to work out acts as a powerful incentive to edge away from your desk at lunch or after work. You may find the encouragement and healthy competition from a friend to be the perfect fit for sustained participation.

Mix it up. Choosing a new activity or revisiting a past interest may be just the thing to add a new spark to your routine. If you are a fan of strength training, you might enjoy the flexibility benefits of yoga. For those with a cardio preference, tai chi or an exercise ball class may pique your interest in a balance routine.

Enlist the support of your four-legged friend. Evidence supports that 60 percent of dog owners in the United States meet the minimum requirements of physical activity by walking the dog two times per day. The time outside will rejuvenate you and your furry companion for better health and stress relief.

Think of physical activity as your ‘secret weapon’ to manage stress. Identify an activity you enjoy — whether it’s a winding stroll around the campus hallways or an evening volleyball match — and make it part of your healthy lifestyle for the new year. Any form of physical activity will help you separate from stress. Put physical activity to work for you today!

References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (n.d.) Physical activity reduces stress. Available at https://goo.gl/1wSeYx

Ham SA, Epping J (2006) Dog walking and physical activity in the United States.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Preventing Chronic Disease, Volume 3: No. 2.  Available at https://goo.gl/ilQAEe

Kihera AV, Connor AE, Drake I et al.  (2016) Genetic risk, adherence to a healthy lifestyle, and coronary disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, 10:1056 Available at https://goo.gl/RIAPYj

Kolata G (2016, November 13) Genetic heart disease risk eased by healthy habits, study finds.  The New York Times.  Available at https://goo.gl/bGArYp

Mayo Clinic (2015, April 16). Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress.  Available at https://goo.gl/BWrLQf

 

 

media-channel-58-with-jay

Jay Kindschi was interviewed last summer by CBS 58’s Julie Parise for a story on “digital amnesia.”

 November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Jay Kindschi reflects on the importance of stretching our minds to try to maintain cognitive awareness as we age.

By Jay Kindschi, D.C., MATC instructor of life sciences

Humanity has always been fascinated by the inner-workings of the brain.  Although many theories have been proposed in the last century, historically few can explain the brain’s incredible adaptability.

Today, modern neuroscience is revealing the intricate process by which the brain can rewire itself: neuroplasticity. The term describes a nerve cell’s ability to change its physical arrangement, forming or breaking connections with other nerve cells. When we learn something for the first time, new and fragile connections are formed between neurons within the brain. When signals flow through these circuits, pictures, memories or words form in our minds.  At the heart of every new thought, there is a unique neural circuit, bringing that thought to life.

Forming Connections

If we think about this new thing frequently enough, the circuits grow stronger and more numerous, thereby increasing the power and clarity of the thought. However, if we never have reason to use these circuits again, the neurons will release their connections and the thought will be lost.

Our emerging view of neuroplasticity shows that the brain is constantly adapting to new stimulation:  new faces, ideas, vocabulary, movements, flavors, music and physical spaces. It is the formation of new cellular connections that allows us to grasp new ideas, and the reflection on these ideas that literally wires them into our conscious mind. Occasionally, an experience is so powerful that it leads to a significant and long-lasting change in our neural circuitry. For better or worse, we come away with a whole new way of seeing the world.

Children’s Brains Are Plastic

The brain of a two-year-old is incredibly plastic, forming innumerable connections each day. At this age, a child immersed in a foreign language will learn to pronounce as flawlessly as a native speaker. However, a child introduced to the language just a few years later may struggle with the accent. Naturally, as an adult mastery of a foreign language is more difficult.

Although some regions of the brain may become less plastic over time, in many ways the brain remains structurally and functionally changeable throughout life.  Life-long learning seems to be the key to brain health and longevity. Older people who stay healthy, engaged, curious, physically and socially active are likely to maintain cognitive performance throughout life.

Brain Developments During Sleep

Neuroplasticity also is at work during sleep. The brain combs through piles of data from the previous day, deciding what is worth remembering and what is not.  Connections deemed unnecessary are pruned, but important ones are reinforced and stimulated.  It may be this nocturnal circuit testing which gives rise to our dreams.  It may be why even our strangest dreams often have one foot in reality.

Our experiences shape the connections we form, but it is our cultivation of these circuits (through reflection, rumination and rehearsal) that determines what will stay with us. Our daily choices, thoughts, mood, habits and social environment shape the neural connections upon which we depend. Our brains will change, we just decide how.