MTA - Manufacturing Technology Academy logo

Manufacturing Technology Academy

The Manufacturing Technology Academy has been providing STEM education since 1996,  before the term 'STEM' was coined! It is an award-winning program for high school juniors and seniors that integrates courses in science, mathematics, economics and English around the themes of technology, robotics, manufacturing, and engineering. Students apply for admission into the program.
PDF DocumentWhat's Unique About an MTA Education?     
Where Do MTA Alumni Go For College & Career?


Prospective MTA students: click the symbol on the blue drop-down bars below to find 

  • MTA application and instructions
  • Info for prospective students

Manufacturing Technology Academy Application Instructions

  • High school sophomores apply to MTA to begin the program as  high school juniors, or high school juniors may apply to MTA as  first-year MTA seniors
  • The application process for the 2021-2022 school year is open! Applications will be accepted until the program is full.
  • Call  Hollianne McHugh at (231) 922-7850 or email with questions about an MTA application

Application Details

  • Incoming high school juniors and seniors from the TBAISD 5-county region may apply
  • Current juniors who are applying as a first-year MTA senior should review the Senior Year Admission information below for more details about applying for senior year only


  • A visit to the MTA is part of the application process
  • Visits can take place in a few different ways:
    • 10th grade visitation - scheduled by the student's high school 
    • Prospective student virtual information sessions in January, February and March
    • In-person attendance during the MTA school day - coordinated with MTA Instructor Tim Wheatley ( and the student's high school


Complete Online MTA Application  {Click to Begin Application}


The online MTA application includes the following sections:

1. Contact Information

2. Academic Background

  • All applicants must have successfully completed at least Algebra 1 and Geometry to be considered for admission
  • In order for a student to place into honors physics, Algebra II must have been completed before the junior year
  • The MTA will request an official transcript from applicant's high school

3. Extracurricular Activities

4. Letters of Recommendation

  • Two letters of recommendation are requested (only one can be from an academic person)
  • Recommenders must have known the student for at least two years and not be a relative
  • Letters of recommendation will be accepted after the application deadline
  • Ask recommenders to send letters to:
    MTA Instructor Tim Wheatley at    -OR-
    MTA, 880 Parsons, Traverse City, 49684

5. Commitment Statement

  • Each applicant should write a statement of why they would like to enroll in the Manufacturing Technology Academy. Include reasons you believe that you would be successful at MTA and specific examples demonstrating you have a positive work ethic.

6. Interview

  • Interviews will be conducted by representatives from the MTA's Manufacturing Council
  • Students will be notified of the interview schedules after contact information, commitment statement, extracurricular activities, and transcript have been reviewed
  • Interview will be held at the TBAISD Career-Tech Center, 880 Parsons Road, Traverse City or virtually
  • Interviews last approximately ½ hour, generally during a weekday afternoon

MTA Senior Year Admission Criteria

1. Hold a current high school G.P.A. of at least 3.0

2. Successfully completed, with a 3.0 or better:

  • Science
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry             
  • Algebra 2
  • Technical classes, clubs, or informal training, for example,
  • Computer Aided Design
  • Computer Programming 
  • Electrical
  • Machining
  • Pneumatics
  • Quality Control
  • Robotic Build

High school sophomores and parents are invited to

learn more about MTA and the application process

MTA periodically hosts group information sessions for high school sophomores who are looking for a challenging high school academic experience. But even if there are no official sessions currently scheduled, interested students, parents and educators may contact  MTA Instructor Tim Wheatley at twheatley@tbaisd with questions.

The MTA team is always glad to share information about the Manufacturing Technology Academy’s rigorous math, science, English and economics academics, along with its integrated  technical class in basic engineering topics, including project management and product design, based upon a robotics platform. Questions about the MTA application process are always welcome as well!


  • Engineering processes
  • Work ethic
  • Advanced science and mathematics
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Robotics
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Lean manufacturing principles


  • Engineering - all disciplines
  • Alternative energy
  • Biochemistry
  • Engineering technology
  • Environmental science
  • Medical
  • Business/marketing/logistics
  • Materials science
  • Military
  • Mathematics


  • English  credit (1.0 per year)
  • OSHA basic training
  • Science credit (1.0 per year)
  • PASSES EDGE workplace safety certificate
  • Mathematics credit (1.0 per year)
  • Postsecondary articulated credit
  • Technology credit (1.0 per year)
  • Early college eligibility
  • Economics (0.5 credit)


Students engage in active learning through advanced academic studies, project management, robotics competitions, job shadows, workplace experience, field trips, and building relationships with adult mentors as they establish relevant connections to various STEM careers.


National competitions and leadership opportunities occur through National Robotics Competitions, National Technical Honor Society and student council. Students are also eligible for a $1,000 annual renewable scholarship at Michigan Technological University (MTU). See additional information below under "MTU Partner Pathway Award."

PDF DocumentManufacturing Technology Academy Summary Sheet

MTA Testimonials

“The knowledge and experience I gained while at MTA helped me considerably during my college experience at The University of Michigan, my internship at RJG, and still continue helping me throughout my current career."  ~MTA alumnus, Mechanical Engineer at Cone Drive in Traverse City 

The work, education, and determination skills that our daughter received were priceless.” ~MTA parent

 “Dedicated students (and parents), excellent faculty, and outstanding support from local industry produce technically-prepared students for the local workforce or additional college/university preparation."   ~ MTA business partner

Students learn real world technical skills along with a rigorous academic curriculum. Consequently, their comprehension of high-level academic subjects is grounded in an understanding of, and appreciation for the utility of that knowledge.

All MTA students complete an internship with a local manufacturing company and participate in company tours, job shadowing, special projects at manufacturing facilities and industry seminars. Each student is also matched with a mentor from industry, and mentor communications are integrated into the students’ English classes, along with a strong dose of technical writing and public speaking. The student culture is achievement-oriented but friendly and supportive.

In order to maintain the quality of the MTA experience, the number of applicants accepted into the MTA junior class each year is capped at 30. If fewer than 30 applications are received by the deadline, late applicant interviews will be scheduled until 30 are received.

MTA Classes/Curriculum

Junior Year Academics:  3 academic credits (1 math, 1 science, 1 English)

  • Mathematics (Algebra II, Honors Trigonometry/Precalculus, Honors Calculus or College Calculus I and II through NMC) 
  • Science (Honors Chemistry or Honors Physics)
  • English Language Arts 11 (focus on technical writing/public speaking)

Senior Year Academics:  3½ academic credits (1 math, 1 science, 1 English, ½ economics)

  • Mathematics (Honors Trigonometry/Precalculus, Honors Calculus, College Calculus I & II, or College Calculus III and Differential Equations)
  • Science (Honors Physics or Advanced Physics covering fundamentals of light and lasers and elements of photonics)
  • English Language Arts 12 (focus on technical writing/public speaking)
  • Honors Economics

MTA’s academic curriculum combines rigorous academic coursework with engineering and manufacturing laboratory applications, integration of work place and interpersonal skills, and a positive, student culture that values intellect. Selected students will take college calculus classes through Northwestern Michigan College (NMC). 

At MTA’s inception, grant funding from the National Science Foundation helped instructors and manufacturing industry professionals develop the curriculum that integrates technology with academics while meeting or exceeding academic benchmarks. Academic sciences like honors physics and honors chemistry are taught around the themes of engineering and manufacturing. Strong math students who meet our criteria are given the opportunity to have most of their tuition paid for College Calculus I and II and/or College Calculus III and Differential Equations from NMC during MTA hours. Advanced physics students study the emerging science and enabling technology of photonics by covering topics from fundamentals of light and lasers and elements of photonics.

Manufacturing Technology: 1 elective credit per year

  • Civil Engineering Technologies
  • Component Design Process/Problem Solving
  • Electrical Engineering Technologies
  • Engineering Ethics
  • Engineering Graphical Communications
  • Logistical Engineering Technologies
  • Manufacturing, Assembly and Fabrication Principles 
  • Materials and Engineering Systems
  • Mechanical Engineering Principles
  • Overview of Engineering
  • System Project Planning
  • Thermal Dynamic Principles

MTA’s manufacturing laboratory uses equipment that includes table-top training robots, 3-D Printers, SolidWorks, precision measurement equipment, and trainers for electronic logic and pneumatics. The lab also serves as the workshop for national robotics and automation competition projects, in which students learn problem-solving, teamwork and project management methodologies.  MTA students participate in regional and national engineering and design competitions such as, the Northern Michigan Math, Engineering and Science Symposium and the National Robotics Challenge where they have repeatedly won top honors and Innovation Awards.

Dual Enrollment Guidelines: Calculus & Differential Equations

There is a dual enrollment mathematics option available to advanced and dedicated MTA students. Northwestern Michigan University (NMC) is our current partner for Calculus I (MTH 141) and Calculus II (MTH 142), Calculus III (MTH 242) and Differential Equations (MTH 251).


Criteria 1:  Meeting  NMC Standards
  • The student must demonstrate eligibility for the class by qualifying for Calculus I on the math portion of the Accuplacer test offered through NMC. MTA Staff will instruct the student on how to take this test.
  • The student will have the opportunity to take the Accuplacer test two times, as allowed by NMC policy.
Criteria 2:  Meeting MTA Standards
  • Students must not have had any “Incompletes” on his/her report card for any class, regardless of whether the work was made up and the incomplete was adjusted.
  • The student must have maintained a minimum of an 83% (3.0 grade-point average) in all classes throughout the previous school year. This average will be calculated using the exact percentages from first and second semester grades from each class.
  • The student must have exhibited a strong work ethic by complying with all of school handbook policies regarding attendance and discipline. Improvements made throughout the year will be taken into consideration.
  • Juniors will be considered on an individual basis. In addition to the above requirements, juniors will be required to have a letter of recommendation from their math instructor and have taken at least Pre-Calculus or high school Calculus in their sophomore year. Upon review and contact with the home school we will make the recommendation whether the student will be eligible for the NMC College Calculus class as a junior.


  • TBAISD  pays for the tuition each semester and pays for the use of a textbook. Because of this, it is our policy that if a student earns a grade lower than a 3.0 for a semester, TBAISD will not pay for the subsequent semester.
  • Because the calculus classes meet daily during the regular MTA session, it is important for students to stay organized. This means that it is the student’s responsibility to find out what was missed in MTA classes each day. Students will still be required to adhere to the deadlines given for assignments in all MTA classes – the MTA work load will not be adjusted.

MTA Students Can Earn Michigan Tech Scholarships

Students enrolled in the Manufacturing Technology Academy (MTA) are eligible for a $1,000 annual renewable scholarship at Michigan Technological University (MTU). The MTU Partner Pathway Award  program requires that MTA students successfully complete two years at MTA and enroll at MTU as first-year students. Career Tech Center and MTU partnered in 2020 to create the scholarship award program to expand learning and exploration  in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Michigan Tech University logoFor additional information about this valuable scholarship opportunity, contact MTA Instructor Debby Oliver at




Manufacturing Technology Academy Mission Statement

To provide a learning environment which motivates and enables students to acquire world-class manufacturing and engineering skills while positioning them to compete and excel in the global market.