MATC and NBF Bring Students Closer to Commercial Design

Milwaukee Area Technical College and National Business Furniture partnered for a program to provide students real-world commercial design experience.

Real-world commercial design experience will give Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) students an edge thanks to a new partnership with National Business Furniture (NBF) which launched May 16, 2019 during a year-end student portfolio show at NBF’s West Allis showroom.

commercial design
Portfolio Show Finalists

Wisconsin’s largest technical college and a diverse two-year institution in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided education in the region since 1912. More than 35,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online.

With the mission to improve every workplace, NBF offers a variety of commercial furniture products, exclusive products from its NBF Signature Series line, expert service, an outside sales force, and lifetime guarantee.

The NBF/MATC Student Design Lab partnership, which was piloted during the fall semester, positions National Business Furniture employees as professional mentors to 16 commercial design students through a series of hands-on sessions at the company. These sessions assist MATC students in learning how to plan safe, efficient and functional commercial spaces. Students also engage with NBF commercial design professionals to learn the soft skills needed for this career. It’s an easy commute for students as NBF is located down the street from MATC’s West Allis Campus where the commercial design program is based.

“The Student Design Lab has given me real life experience which has helped me to perfect my craft and build my future in interior design,” said Ashanti James-Scott, a senior who was selected as NBF’s first student design intern during the pilot program. “You really see how much communication and teamwork it takes to create a successful design project.”

The NBF/MATC Student Design Lab will be an annual program available to second-year commercial design students. It will culminate each year in a portfolio show and one student from each class will be selected to receive a semester-long NBF design internship. During the May 16, 2019 event, three internship finalists were determined with a final selection made at the end of May.

MATC Students Giving Presentations

“NBF is proud to team with MATC and connect these students with our field experts who can share their practical knowledge and experience. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these talented designers,” said NBF president Allan Klotsche.

“This partnership is providing more hands-on, real-world experience for our students, continuing to ensure that they are career ready on day one,” said Dorothy Walker, interim dean of MATC’s School of Technology and Applied Sciences. “We are grateful for NBF and the work of our team to make this partnership a reality.”

MATC and NBF leaders attending the event include: MATC interim dean of Technology & Applied Sciences Dorothy Walker, associate dean of Technology & Applied Sciences Technical & Industrial Administration Kamela Goodwyn, MATC interior design department chair and instructor Mary Walgren, NBF president Allan Klotsche, and NBF space planning and design assistant manager Tonya Dybdahl.

All of the graduation-eligible students who were involved in this program crossed the MATC graduation stage on May 17. More than half of the students already have internships or job offers in their desired design field.