100 Years of Making Futures



100 Years of Making Futures - Wisconsin Technical College System

Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges are on the brink of their 100 year anniversary. Just as Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges are recognized nationally as leaders among the community and technical colleges — since our beginning — Wisconsin led the rest of the nation in developing a system for technical and occupational education!

Wisconsin Technical Colleges History Timeline

Wisconsin's Technical Colleges are making history by making futures.

100 Years of Making Futures - The History of the Wisconsin Technical College System

WTCS Historian Kathleen Paris, Ph.D. makes a connection between the responsiveness of vocational schools 100 years ago and the technical colleges today.

100 Years of Responding.mov



Photo of an early automotive class

When the State of Wisconsin first passed laws supporting vocational, technical and adult education in 1911 (Chapter 616), our state was the first to establish such a system. The laws ensured that state aid would be provided to foster continuation, trade and evening schools.


Legislation required each community with a population of 5,000 or more to create a local body or board that could levy property tax and have representation for industrial education with the Superintendent of Public Instruction.



Photo of an early construction class

Along with establishing what is now called the Wisconsin Technical College System, the state also created the first apprenticeship program, also the first of it’s kind in the nation, 100 years ago.


The first of the institutions built was (what we now call) Gateway Technical College in Racine. That college, along with the other 15 colleges in the system and the System Administration, will be kicking off the beginning of a statewide celebration of the technical colleges.

Now offering over 300 programs in fields as diverse as Radiography, Mechanical Design Technology, Renewable Energies and Fashion Marketing, the colleges have helped nearly half of all Wisconsin adults build their futures through occupational, technical and/or liberal arts education.