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

Updated Jan. 29, 2019

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.

With the extreme cold temperatures these next few days it is recommended to set your thermostat to hold a constant temperature.  The temperatures that are being forecast are actually colder than what your heating system was sized for.  That means that if you were to allow your house to drop in temperature while you aren’t home, the heating system may not be able to recover or catch back up.  Additionally don’t be surprised if your furnace runs all day and your house still slips a few degrees. 

Do your furnace a favor and make sure it has a clean filter. Make sure the intake pipe doesn’t get blocked by blowing snow if you have a high efficiency furnace.

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.


Tom Heraly portrait

By Tom Heraly, MATC electronic technology instructional chair

From the preliminary information about the Foxconn Technology Group’s facilities, it appears the company will be building three production plants. These production plants will include a final assembly plant for LCD televisions, a modular component plant for creating components for televisions and other products, and a glass panel plant to produce TFT-LCD (thin film transistor liquid crystal display) glass panels. The production plants will likely be built in close proximity to each other to reduce any transportation or packaging damage to the components. The order in which the plants are built will depend on the demand for the type of products that they will produce.

I think it is likely that the final production plant will be built first with the modular component plant to follow in short order. The final production plant will probably be the largest due to the large size of the components coming into the plant (TFT-LCD glass) and the large size of the products leaving the plant (large-screen LCD televisions).
The modular component plant will supply smaller components to the final production plant as well as smaller components for the other Foxconn products in the U.S.,  including LCD flat panels for automotive and construction equipment.  The size will probably be smaller, but the product mix in this plant will be greater.  This means that Foxconn will produce a large variety of products with smaller production runs of each part.

The TFT-LCD glass panel production plant will probably be the last of the facilities to be completed. This production plant will be the most sophisticated of the three plants. The quality control and automated equipment needed to produce these type of TFT-LCD glass panels will rival anything operating in Silicon Valley or Houston.

Compare the silicon wafer manufacturing cells producing small wafers for use in semiconductor integrated circuits (Figure 1) to the TFT-LCD glass panel manufacturing cells producing large glass (think six large-screen televisions in two columns and three rows). This will require a Gen 10 manufacturing cell (11½ feet x 10 feet) to produce the proper size glass for a six-panel piece of glass (Figure 2). This plant will have the least number of workers, but will demand the highest skilled technology workers.

Foxconn Source corner figure 1

Figure 1 RENA Silicon Wafer Mfg. Cell

Foxconn Source Corner Figure 2

Figure 2 Corning Gen 10 TFT-LCD Mfg. Cell Dr. Peter Bocko

In the next Source Corner, Heraly will write about the type of production jobs needed in the final assembly plant.

For more information on MATC’s electronic technology associate degree program, visit http://www.matc.edu/tas/degrees/electronic-technology.cfm

For more information on MATC’s electronics techronics fundamentals:     http://www.matc.edu/tas/diplomas/Electronics-Technician-Fundamentals-diploma-program.cfm




 World Water Monitoring Day is, Sept. 18, 2017

By Kathy Bates, instructional chair, MATC environmental health and water technology 

America’s Clean Water Foundation established an annual “World Water Day” in 2003 to increase public awareness and involvement in protecting our precious water resources locally and throughout the world. Educational and training opportunities are held throughout the year both locally and globally to empower and enable citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water resources, such as lakes and rivers.

We are so fortunate to have Lake Michigan and the three rivers in this part of the state:  Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic.  Lake Michigan is the source of drinking water for many Milwaukee communities, as well as municipalities adjacent to Lake Michigan to the north and to the south of Milwaukee County. Other Wisconsinites that do not have access to Lake Michigan obtain their water from groundwater sources.

How will you celebrate World Water Monitoring Day?  Some ideas include:

Participate in a nearby river or beach cleanup.

Consider using water-saving appliances and plumbing fixtures.

Educate yourself and others about water resources.

Buy sustainable products.

Install raingardens and/or rain harvesting systems.

Challenge yourself and others to use less water.


Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup             http://www.greatlakesadopt.org/

River Cleanup                              http://milwaukeeriverkeeper.org/

U.S. EPA WaterSense                 https://www.epa.gov/watersense

FreshCoast740                            http://www.freshcoast740.com/

EarthEcho Water Challenge    http://www.worldwatermonitoringday.org/

Read more about MATC’s Environmental Health and Water Quality Technology program:


SAS Staff for Source Corner

By MATC Student Accommodation Services

Students with disabilities may be apprehensive about beginning college, but there is no reason to worry about attending Milwaukee Area Technical College. MATC’s Student Accommodation Services Department (SAS) is here to help.

 SAS ensures that students with disabilities receive equal access opportunities to all MATC programs, courses and services according to section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which protects students with disabilities from discrimination and assures full access to the college.

SAS wheelchair graphic

SAS provides reasonable accommodations and academic support to students with disabilities who demonstrate specific educational needs. The goals of the department are:

  • Support educational progress
  • Promote completion of educational objectives
  • Ultimately expect individuals with disabilities to acquire and maintain competitive employment

Under federal regulations, a student has a disability if he/she has:

  • A physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities.
  • Has a record of impairment or is regarded as having impairment.

Students must express the need for an auxiliary aid or service and give adequate notice of the need to the SAS. MATC will then request that the student provide:

  • Supporting diagnostic test results
  • Relevant medical documents
  • Professional prescriptions for auxiliary aid

Title IX

Title IX legislation protects students who are pregnant, have miscarriages or abortions, need childbirth leaves or suffer post-partum depression so that they can stay in school and continue their education. Students who apply for Title IX protection and provide documentation of their pregnancy can receive excused absences for documented medical appointments and childbirth leaves, which may allow them to make up the work missed without penalty. Or MATC may utilize a variety of strategies such as “incompletes,” rearranging assignment sequence, or substituting assignments to allow the students to fulfill the requirements of the class. The instructor’s role in initiating and facilitating this process is crucial to its success.

If you are a student who is missing classes because you are pregnant, please contact Cathy Bohte, bohtec@matc.edu or 414-297-6245, in SAS so that you can apply for this protection and we can work together. Title IX is not retroactive so it is important that you apply early.

Sign Language

Sign language interpreters help bridge the communication gap by listening in class and translating lectures and discussions into sign language. They also translate the student’s signed communication into spoken English when the student is called upon, has a comment or question, or makes a presentation. Interpreting is more than just knowing how to sign competently. Interpreters must process language quickly and accurately, and they must think about spoken English and sign language simultaneously.

Interpreters cannot answer personal questions about the student, interject personal opinions or assist a student with schoolwork. They are there strictly to translate what is being said. Interpreters should not be expected to hand out papers, take notes, participate in discussions, assist the instructor or attend class when the student is absent.

The Yellow Umbrella

MATC strives to make its campuses safe for all students. MATC’s Public Safety Department and SAS have established an ongoing dialogue with the d/Deaf* and hard-of-hearing student population to clarify district emergency procedures and to identify any special areas of difficulty these students may have with the current plan.

SAS yellow umbrellas

For most emergencies, MATC uses a mass notification system. Amber-colored strobe lights are used in common areas such as corridors and in areas that have a high level of ambient noise, such as shops and large labs. This visual alert is then followed by verbal instructions that specify the type of emergency and the procedure to follow. Amber lights are not in all classrooms, but the accompanying audio announcement can be heard through speakers in all classrooms, offices and common areas.

A fire monitoring system uses white or clear strobe lights with the word FIRE printed on them. This system broadcasts verbal instructions in corridors and common areas.

Depending on the circumstance, either system may be utilized to alert students, staff and guests of emergencies involving severe weather, active shooter situations, chemical spills, fire evacuation, shelter-in-place emergencies, etc.

A student with a hearing loss may see one of the flashing light systems depending on where he or she is, but unless an interpreter is in close proximity he or she may have no access to the verbal information and instructions that accompany the alert. This can lead to anxiety and confusion. The MATC Public Safety Department recommends that students rely on visual cues in these circumstances. If the crowd is exiting the building, for instance, d/Deaf students are told to follow. Once outside however, d/Deaf students should scan the crowd to find someone to explain what is going on.

A “yellow umbrella” plan was developed to help in this situation. Interpreters were given fluorescent yellow umbrellas with the interpreter emblem printed on them.  Interpreters carry these umbrellas on campus at all times. In the case of an evacuation emergency, interpreters proceed to the designated safe area following district emergency procedures. Once outside, the umbrellas are opened to indicate where a d/Deaf student can go for communication about the evacuation.

While the yellow umbrella plan is a possible solution for only one type of emergency (outdoor evacuation), it is a clear example of MATC departments collaborating creatively to make the college a safe and accessible environment for all students. Look to future issues of disAbility Focus for more proactive, innovative ideas on this topic.

Service Dogs

What is a service dog? According to the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability, such as recognizing the onset of a seizure or picking up a fallen object. According to the ADA, the dog does not need to be formally trained and does not need to have a certificate stating that the dog completed a training program. The service dog does not need to wear a vest or other indicator that it is a service dog.

SAS service dogs

How do you know if the dog is a service dog? When it is not obvious what service(s) the dog provides, MATC personnel are only allowed to ask two questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal that is required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The student should not be asked what his/her disability is and does not need to divulge that information. If the student answers “yes” to the first question and states a task, the student should be allowed to resume his/her participation in the activity. If there are questions, Public Safety can be called or the student can be referred to SAS.

What are the responsibilities of students who have service dogs? Students with service dogs are responsible for the care of the dog, which includes: being kept on a leash and under the student’s control, hygiene upkeep, and ensuring that the dog is housebroken, up to date on all immunization requirements and pest-free. The dog should not be left in classrooms/offices unattended while students are participating in college activities. The owner should discourage classmates from petting and feeding the dog.

Tips for instructors are: treat the dog and its owner as a team, allow the dog on field trips, seat the student and dog on the opposite side of the classroom if another student has pet allergies and call Public Safety if the dog is being disruptive.

*The use of the capital D in this article is intentional. A small d refers to someone who is audiologically deaf but may or may not identify culturally with the Deaf community. A capital D is used to refer to people who use American Sign Language and for whom Deafness is a cultural identity.

SAS Locations & Contact Information

Downtown Milwaukee Campus
Room C219 

Mequon Campus
Room A282—enter through the Learning Commons   

Oak Creek Campus
Room A211

West Allis Campus
Room W217                                                                                                  

SAS Contact Information

Gahan Source Corner photo

By Jeff Gahan, MATC automotive instructor

Summer is well under way and many of us are planning getaways for some much needed rest and relaxation. Unless you are planning a stay-cation, all of us will use some method of transportation to get to our destination. If you like to hit the open road and see the country, preparing your vehicle is as important as packing your toothbrush.

A good option to be sure your means of transport is safe and ready for the getaway is a vehicle inspection at your local dealership. Vehicle inspections are a good way to give your car a low-cost “once over” to prepare for the trip.

These inspections typically range from a 21-point up to 40-point inspection, depending on the type of vehicle you drive. Inspections have a color-coded scale to simplify determining the condition of the components being inspected. They look similar to this:

Green means it has been checked and okay

 Yellow means this item will need future attention

Blue means “does not apply”

Red means requires immediate attention

Vehicle Inspection jpeg

The number of inspection points determines the intensity of the inspection. Common areas for the inspection focus on the safety of the vehicle and maintenance items. These areas include fluid levels, under-hood items, under-vehicle checks and tires.


Engine Oil
Regular oil changes are the best protection against internal engine damage.­ Clean, quality oil also helps reduce emissions and improve fuel mileage.

Replacing engine coolant renews corrosion protection for the radiator, water pump and coolant system gaskets while maintaining both freeze and boil-over protection.

Transmission Fluid
Regular replacement of transmission fluid protects the transmission the same way that oil changes help protect your vehicle’s engine against costly repairs.

Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid replacement removes built-up deposits that can cause premature wear to rubber seals and metal power-steering components.

Brake Fluid
Replacing the brake fluid helps maintain correct pedal pressure and prevent corrosion deposits from forming on anti-lock brake system pumps and other brake hydraulic parts.

Window Washer Fluid
Topped-off window washer fluid reservoirs are necessary for clear visibility in all types of driving conditions.­ Washer fluid is a must-have for clearing everything from bugs to road salt.


Under-the-Hood Items

Corroded battery terminals or cables rob your engine of starting power. ­Missing battery hold-downs or insulation may cause premature battery failure.­ A battery not meeting CCA (cold cranking amp) specifications may leave you stranded without warning.

Corroded, clogged or leaking radiators are a significant cause of vehicle breakdowns.­ Overheating often causes severe damage to modern engines.

Water Pump
Visible leakage or abnormal noises are usually a sign of internal pump damage. Poor coolant flow may damage the cooling system and other engine components.

 Belts (Except Timing Belts)
Badly cracked or frayed belts should always be replaced. Most modern vehicles use just one belt to operate the water pump, alternator, power steering pump and air conditioning. ­Broken belts can cause overheating, electrical and steering system failure, leading to roadside breakdowns.

Air Filter
Dirty air filters contribute to poor engine performance and lower fuel mileage. Missing or damaged filters allow dirt directly into the engine and may cause premature engine wear.

Coolant Hoses
Hoses that are cracked, brittle or spongy are likely to fail soon. ­Ruptured hoses cause leaks and engine overheating. Technicians also are trained to look for hoses that may be damaged, restricted or misrouted.

Under-the-Vehicle Items

Shocks and Struts
Worn or badly leaking shocks and struts can cause braking problems and premature suspension wear.­ A cracked or broken mount will cause noise over bumps.

Brake Line/Hoses
Road conditions and undercarriage corrosion can cause cracks or wear in the steel lines and rubber hoses that carry brake fluid underneath your vehicle.­ A leaking brake line may cause loss of brake pressure to the entire braking system.

Fuel Lines/Hoses
Road conditions and undercarriage corrosion can cause cracks or wear in the steel lines and rubber hoses that carry fuel underneath your vehicle. ­Leaking fuel lines are potential safety hazards.

Exhaust System
Leaks, rattles, broken clamps or hangers all point to potential exhaust system problems. ­The entire system from engine manifold to tailpipe should be inspected.­ Leaking exhaust fumes can enter the passenger compartment. ­Even a small exhaust leak can affect engine performance and result in higher pollution emissions.

Unlubricated, noisy CV joints or U-joints are likely to fail soon.­ A torn CV boot indicates probable CV joint damage. ­Cracked boots or missing clamps may be repairable. ­A broken driveline component will allow the engine to run, but the vehicle may not move.


Proper inflation, regular rotation and frequent evaluation are your best defense against premature tire failure. ­Worn, damaged or improperly inflated tires may cause longer braking distances, decreased fuel mileage and even alter your vehicle’s ride and handling.­ Always follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for proper tire size, inflation rates and rotation intervals. Frequent tire evaluation can spot tire wear or damage caused by road debris, alignment conditions or improper tire maintenance.


Planning ahead with a vehicle inspection will save you hours of waiting for roadside assistance if you should experience a break down. Let’s hit the road!


Damion Draeger

By Damion Draeger, MATC landscape horticulture instructor

With summer just around the corner, no doubt many of us are busy planning our vacations. How many of those vacations are spent near the water? Whether it is a big trip for fun in the sun at a luxurious beach or a fishing trip to your lakeside cabin in northern Wisconsin, water draws you there. Wouldn’t it be great if you could bring some of that relaxation home with you? Many people may not realize this, but you can!

What is a Water Feature?

There are a variety of options when it comes to adding water to a landscape. The simplest and best option for a small area is a bubbling rock or vase. This is a large rock with one or more holes drilled, which allow water to bubble through the holes and trickle back down into a basin.

The second option is a pondless waterfall system. This system has a reservoir below ground that holds the water and pump. The water is pumped through piping to an origination point where it pours out and cascades over various drops created with rocks to mimic a natural waterfall. Gravel covers the liner and helps beautify the stream that allows the water to return to the basin.

The third option is a pond. When building a pond, the installer uses rocks to create ledges for visual interest and safety. Because there is a body of water, owners are able to enjoy many types of fish varying from simple goldfish to beautiful koi.  Waterfalls are generally created with the pond to create a natural ecosystem pond. 

Landscape Horticulture Students Transform Mequon Campus East Entrance

At Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Mequon Campus, landscape horticulture students in the fall 2016 “Irrigation, Lighting and Ponds” course were able to create a miniature mountain stream at the east entrance. The class of nine students spent four weeks learning the ins and outs of various water features. After working with all the MATC landscape horticulture instructors to be sure the installation would not interfere with any of the other learning installations on campus, we chose to build an eight foot pondless waterfall system.


Water Pieces Source Corner 1Here is the location was chosen for the pondless waterfall installation. It sits in the center of the east entrance at the MATC Mequon Campus.


Water Pieces Source Corner 2

With our site selected and a kit with all the necessary parts and pieces, the students began mapping out the footprint of the project.

Water Pieces Source Corner 3

Pictured above: Mary Blaylock, Robert Caspari, Lynn Christiansen, Brennan Delap, Scott Jeffrey, Derek Kolthoff, Trent Neumann and Tyler Tschetter (not pictured Michael Richards)


Over the course of three class periods, the students created a living and breathing work of art. Every time I am at MATC’s Mequon Campus, I see students, instructors, and especially the children on their way to the Child Care Center, stop to look at this feature. Hopefully, you can visit the campus to see this relaxation spot created by our students and enjoyed by so many.


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.


  • 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.