Matt Bertsch ’97 didn’t start at MSOE. But after finishing his freshman year as a physics major at a small school in Iowa, he decided he was more of a mechanical engineer. “I’ve always been very inquisitive and questioning,” says Bertsch, who is vice president of the cordless tool new product development team at Milwaukee Tool Corp. “What led me to engineering is I’m always looking around trying to figure out how things have been constructed.”

The Wisconsin native decided the natural choice was to transfer to MSOE.

“I knew it was a school that was focused on the creation of really top-caliber engineers, and I appreciated the much more focused education and smaller class sizes,” he says. “The best part was the engaged professors as well as the industry experience of many of the faculty and how they were able to relate what they were teaching in theoretical content to much more practical content that we all knew we’d be using down the road.”

He connected with Career Services toward the end of his sophomore year. “They were very engaged with finding out what my interests were and where I would be a good fit, and that allowed me to get an internship at Rexnord Corp.,” he recalls. “I stayed there working part time for the rest of college, full time during the summers, and for several years after graduation.”

Despite his late start, he completed his degree in three years. Although work and his heavy class load took most of his free time, he still got involved with Kappa Eta Kappa, an engineering fraternity, and bonded with classmates outside of Greek life, too.

“The students were very engaged and motivated,” he recalls. “It felt like we were all on this team together.”

It wasn’t always easy, but Bertsch appreciated that fact. “That rigor and those standards were very valuable in ensuring the integrity of the degree,” he says. “One of the things I’m most proud of is graduating from MSOE. I really felt that was a significant milestone in my life that set me up for the future.”

That’s why Bertsch frequently hires employees from his alma mater. “MSOE attracts students who are highly motivated to become engineers, who are purpose-driven and task-driven, and who are also very, very focused,” he says. “They know what their passion is, and they want to make a career out of their passion. That's one of the things that gives MSOE students an advantage.”

Those same traits have served Bertsch well throughout his career. After working at two small companies, he joined Milwaukee Tool in 2007 and has since climbed the ranks, working in technical, project management and leadership positions. Today he leads a team of 65 employees.

“I’m proud that I’ve built my communication and leadership skills throughout my career and that I’ve been able to be a part of the success of Milwaukee Tool,” he says. “Milwaukee Tool has experienced tremendous growth during my tenure, growing at least 20 percent per year since 2009, and we are striving harder for the future.”