By 1930, it became clear that more and more adult students were taking classes at the Madison Vocational School in order to transfer to the University of Wisconsin.
In the 1930s, our school responded to the Great Depression by increasing craft offerings, with an emphasis on millinery, woodworking and chair-caning. Increasing our adult and continuing education helped us survive this period when community colleges around the United States were folding. To reflect that adults, more than students of traditional college age, were a growing percentage of the student body, we were renamed the Madison Vocational and Adult School.
Thanks to federal funding of “National Defense” courses, the Madison Vocational and Adult School offered courses 24 hours a day during the 1942-43 academic year. Courses that met on the third shift taught skills necessary for wartime jobs, mostly in manufacturing.
Madison’s emergence as a regional center for hospitals and medical research after the war prompted the expansion of the school’s health occupation programs. Increased opportunities in skilled trades led to the building of a second campus on Madison’s Commercial Avenue.
In the 1960s, the school created more courses and a coherent two-year program that could transfer to four-year colleges, becoming an accredited community college. Starting in 1966, we started offering college-transfer courses, a track that would grow into one of the college’s most popular programs.
Wisconsin began consolidating its city-based technical institutes into regional networks of colleges, with central and satellite campuses. District 4 of the Wisconsin Technical College System became known as Madison Area Technical College and included existing colleges in Fort Atkinson, Portage, Reedsburg and Watertown.