Matt Morey has been targeting engineering for a profession for years, but when he launched his collegiate career at Southwestern Michigan College, he earned his welding certificate from the institution’s School of Business & Advanced Technology last year first.
Morey says, “I figured welding would be a good skill to have.” That came after his initial exposure to the welding trade in his senior year at Constantine High School during Assistant Professor Dan Miles’ career technical education (CTE) program.
Now that Morey’s a civil engineering undergraduate in the Upper Peninsula at Michigan Tech in Houghton, he reflects on the situation saying, “I’m a lot more prepared than if I had tried it right out of high school. SMC definitely helped. It built a foundation for how I study now. I took everything I learned at SMC and ramped it up.”
As a commuter student, to more productively deploy time between classes, he worked as the Niles Campus welding lab assistant.
SMC Assistant Professor Allyson Starrett, one of Morey’s welding instructors says, “Matt is starting his second fall up there, which is very exciting. It shows that we helped prepare him for the tough school that Michigan Tech is,” and adds, “Matt truly was a great student in our program. He was hands down one of the best work-studies we have ever had and actually built a legacy that is left behind in the lab that students will use for years to come. I am proud to have had him as a student and the chance to know him as a young man.”
Starrett said Morey made a metal storage rack for the lab and another in the side room to hold metal donated to the program. He designed bins for certification scrap, replaced all of the table tops and set up and tested the regulators that are part of the gas piping system.
Besides his CTE involvement “pulling me toward SMC,” Matt’s older brother, Mike, a machinist, also studied welding with Starrett.
Considering that one of Morey’s professors, Andrew Dohm, came to the classroom from automotive engineering at Chrysler Corp., or that Michigan Tech civil engineer Lauren Krueger, who builds Chicago high-rises, pursued general studies at SMC, how did he decide where he fit?
After all, there are six major branches — mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, management and geotechnical — with literally hundreds of subcategories grouped under each.
Morey’s admiration for his father, Tim, a construction manager, influenced his decision. He remembered Tim counseling, “Go a step further and be an engineer.” Matt worked on a concrete crew during summer, doing road work, so he decided attaining his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering would permit him to “stay in a field I already liked.”
Morey foresees a day when he will be able to integrate welding with engineering, perhaps by becoming a certified inspector.
Morey’s parents both attended Ferris State University. His mother, Deb, studied horticulture and works for Arnett’s Landscaping and Garden Center in Constantine.
Houghton, an 8 to 12 hour trip for Morey, celebrates its prodigious snowfall with an annual Winter Carnival that since 1922 has grown into one of the largest winter festivals in the nation featuring dozens of huge, intricate statues and broomball, sleigh rides, comedy skits and a queen coronation.