History | Waukesha County Technical College

History

WCTC has been educating students for success for nearly a century. It all began in 1923, when the newly formed Waukesha Vocational School occupied the basement of Waukesha Central High School (now Central Middle School). J.E. Worthington, principal of the high school, also served as part-time director of the vocational school. The 1920 board minutes authorized “the purchase of materials to build 20 manual training benches and 20 mechanical drawing benches, the same to be constructed by the pupils as their first project.”

O.B. Lindholm was hired as the school’s first manual training instructor, and in 1923, he became the school’s first full-time director — a position he held for the next quarter-century.

Historical Highlights

  • In 1923, Waukesha Vocational School’s enrollment was 443, compared with today’s WCTC enrollment of approximately 23,000.
  • By 1930, Waukesha Vocational School served 700 students and had outgrown its space in the high school basement. The school built a new building at 222 Maple Ave. for $68,000.
  • In 1956, the College completed an 11,500-square-foot addition to its 11-room Maple Street location. The $186,000 addition, which opened in 1957, included classrooms for arts and crafts, home furnishings, drafting, social studies and sewing, as well as a large multipurpose classroom.
  • In 1967, Waukesha Vocational School became Waukesha County Technical Institute.
  • On April 4, 1970, the College broke ground for WCTI’s historic new $7 million campus in Pewaukee. Classes at the new campus began in February of 1972.
  • Coached by Athletic Director Wally Wiese from 1970 to 1986, the WCTI Owls basketball team enjoyed 14 straight seasons with more than 20 wins, 13 league titles and eight state championships.
  • During the recession of the early 1980s, Waukesha County Technical Institute achieved record enrollment, with more than 36,000 students taking classes.
  • In 1988, Waukesha County Technical Institute changed its name to Waukesha County Technical College to better reflect its mission.
  • WCTC made its debut on the internet in 1995 and began offering online courses in business law, financial planning and real estate.
  • The Harry V. Quadracci Printing and Graphics Center (Building G), which houses WCTC’s printing and graphic arts programs and classrooms, was completed 2002. In 2007, the College opened the Harry V. Quadracci Education and Technology Center (Building Q), a 23,600-square-foot facility built as a wing of the Printing and Graphics Center.
  • WCTC’s Enrollment Center renovation was completed in 2010. Students now have seamless access to advising, counseling, admission, registration and financial aid — all conveniently located in the new center. This has streamlined the registration process and shortened wait times for students.
  • In 2013, WCTC completed its new Transportation Building, a 5,300-square-foot facility used for the College’s Truck Driving technical diploma program.
  • In 2013, the Dual Enrollment Academy program began as a way to offer high school seniors a head start in careers in high-demand fields while providing them an opportunity to earn college credits.
  • The Firing Range opened on Hickory Street in 2013 to provide firearms training to the law enforcement community and the public.
  • In 2016, the 24,000-square-foot Integrated Manufacturing Center (IMC) was built to increase the amount of space dedicated to electronics, automation and manufacturing trades. The center was renamed to honor donor Terry Lutz in 2018.
  • The Student Enrichment Center opened in Building B in 2016 as a central location to house Academic Support, Library Services and the Service Desk. The TechEx Center was added in 2017, and the WCTC Bookstore was added in fall 2018.

Learn more about WCTC’s history in Education for a Lifetime.