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Setting a High Bar

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Matthew Brauer

Matt Brauer sets a high bar for himself, and he refuses to lower it. That high bar was the reason he decided to pivot away from a profession that was unsatisfactory to him, transitioning into a new one that intrigues him. And that high bar is the reason he’s excelled in the University of Minnesota’s Manufacturing Operations Management (MM) program, which has given him the education necessary for the next chapter in his professional life.

We sat down with Brauer to ask a few questions about his experience in the MM program and his post-graduation goals.

CCAPS: So, tell us about your background before you entered the program.

MB: Well, after graduating from high school I decided to take some time off to find out what the real world was like. I had been doing concrete and masonry for my father since I was young, so, at the time, it was an easy profession to enter. I joined the Laborers’ Union and started working a construction job as a concrete and masonry laborer. Although the money was good and I was great at my job, I wasn’t fulfilled. That’s one of the main reasons why I decided to go back to school.

CCAPS: How did you decide to pursue the MM major?

MB: Initially, I wanted to go into an engineering major, but after looking through other majors available at the U of M, the MM major caught my eye. I researched the program and found it very intriguing. It seemed like a good fit for me. I went into the program with the hopes of gaining skills that would help me add value in the manufacturing technology sector. I want to be ready to make an impact at any organization I step into.

CCAPS: What have you learned so far and how will you apply it to the real world?

MB: The MM program teaches invaluable manufacturing, engineering operations, and management concepts that have helped me look at all business functions with a new mindset. From new technological production processes, quality and operations engineering practices, and industry compliance regulation, to best current management-leadership methodologies, the MM program covers many high-level concepts that will certainly be useful in the industry.

I can honestly say that from my studies at the U of M, I have gained valuable technical leadership skills and best business practices that will serve me well in any organization. Going through the program shines a new light on the world and allows me to see things differently and clearer. I do believe that what I’m coming away with will serve me well moving forward into my career.

CCAPS: And what do you see yourself doing with your MM major?

MB: One of the courses I’m in right now has opened my eyes to the medical device industry. Learning about the different technologies and innovative products that help treat detrimental health problems around the world and learning how those medical devices are made was an aha moment for me. The work I completed during the course, and the inside look at the diseases that can be mitigated and treated with medical devices, makes me excited about this as a career field. And I believe the skills I will walk away with from the MM program will help me achieve success in this industry.

I hope to become a leader that makes an impact, and I want to rise to a position that affords me the stability, flexibility, and financial freedom to provide a quality life for my family. As a professional, I want to make learning a lifelong goal so that I am constantly improving myself, regardless of the challenges I face. The MM program has given me the skills and mindset to achieve and exceed these goals.

Matt Brauer is a recipient of the Osher Reentry Scholarship.