A student works on a prototype

Prototype and Design - Associate Degree

As a graduate of the Prototype and Design program, you will be skilled in 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing, hand fabrication, high quality painting and finishing, 3D drawing software, CNC machining, and RTV model making. You can build a variety of three-dimensional prototypes and models for use in manufacturing, consumer products, and other fields of product development. You will also be able to construct three-dimensional models for use in props, architectural design, and mechanical design. Your skills will emphasize problem solving and critical thinking across all aspects from design to model completion. Career opportunities include product development, prototype model builder, engineering design, architectural model builder, RTV mold maker, rapid prototype technician, and pattern maker.

Program Code: 106142 Emerging Career
Home » Academics and Training » Prototype and Design

With the advancement of Industry 4.0 technology, your creativity and hands-on skills are needed in product development. In addition to CNC machining, mold making, and hand fabrication, the Prototype and Design associate degree covers the latest techniques in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Break the mold with a prototyping career.

Program Costs & Financial Aid

See costs of tuition, books, and supplies.

This program is fully eligible for financial aid.

Estimates based on in-state residency. Learn more about tuition and fees.

Explore Locations

Offered At:


  • Day
  • Full-time

How do I get started in this program?

Requirements for Program Entry

  • Apply at www.nwtc.edu/apply.
  • Submit the following to transcripts@nwtc.edu: • High school transcript (or GED/HSED transcript). • College transcript.
  • If your cumulative GPA is below 2.6, complete or submit a placement evaluation.
  • Tip! Our admission advisors will assist you through every step. Have questions? Connect with NWTC Admissions at start@nwtc.edu or 920-498-5444.

What are my courses?


Students following the study plan below will compete the Prototype and Design Technician associate degree in the number of semesters shown.

Total Credits 65
  • Curriculum Note: The credit for 10-890-101, College 101 is an institutional requirement for graduation. Consequently, it is not part of the program requirements, but must be passed with a "C" or better.
  • It is acceptable for students to take 10-804-118, Interm Algebra w Apps and 10-804-196, Trigonometry w Apps as alternatives to 10-804-113, College Technical Math 1A and 10-804-114, College Technical Math 1B.
  • If a student is considering pursuing a 4-year degree, 10-804-118, Intermediate Algebra w/Apps, should be taken in place of 10-804-113, College Tech Math 1A and 10-804-196, Trigonometry w/Apps should be taken in place of 10-804-114, College Tech Math 1B.
  • Students must earn a "C" or higher in College Tech Math 1A and all 10-614-XXX, 10-606-XXX, 10-420-XXX, and 10-442-XXX courses.

Program Outcomes

  • Develop planning strategies necessary to translate two-dimensional information into a three- dimensional prototype.
  • Use critical thinking and problem solving techniques in the construction of a prototype.
  • Create a variety of computer aided drawings using AutoCAD and SolidWorks.
  • Create programs to be used on CNC (computer numerical control) milling machines using Surf CAM software.
  • Construct 3D models using a variety of rapid prototyping processes.
  • Produce highly detailed and accurate parts using the laser machining center.
  • Fabricate silicone rubber molds and rigid molds suitable for casting.
  • Build patterns and molds to be used for vacuum forming.
  • Create jigs and fixtures necessary for special machining operations.
  • Select and apply a variety of industrial finishes on various materials.
  • Effectively estimate the time and cost to design and fabricate a prototype.
  • Manage computer files and utilize a variety of technically related software.
  • Work efficiently as a part of a team, or independently.
  • Safely operate all hand tools, metalworking, and woodworking equipment typically used in a professional model shop.
  • Effectively select appropriate materials and adhesives and understand their properties.
  • Use proper sanding and finishing techniques on various materials.
  • Understand various design and engineering processes as they relate to the Prototype and Design Industry.

What careers are in my future?


Graduate Employment

with 40% in field

Employment Potential

A graduate of this program will have the potential for employment in the following areas:

  • Product Development: develops and designs new products through the use of prototypes.
  • Prototype Model Builder: provides research and development on new products, works with molding, and makes models for all types of industries, such as toy and automobile manufacturers, so that the prototype will look like the finished product before production begins.
  • Engineering Design: translates engineering data and vendor information into scale prototypes or CAD models for use with Rapid Prototyping Processes. Usually employed in design and development of new products or systems.
  • Architectural Model Builder: translates, to scale, all architectural drawings using plot plans, elevations, sections, and details to construct three dimensional models using a wide variety of materials and processes.
  • Rapid Prototype Technician: Creates models with the use of rapid prototype technologies.
  • Pattern and Mold Maker: fabricates wood, plastic, or metal patterns and molds for casting parts.

Employment opportunities with additional education

  • Mechanical Prototype Designer
  • Model Shop Supervisor
  • Computer Numerical Control Machinery Programmer/Operator
  • Rapid Prototyping Operator
  • Architectural Designer/Model Builder
  • Freelance Model Builder

What's next after graduation?

Start here. Finish at a four-year.

NWTC transfer programs are offered through collaborative agreements with our four-year college and university partners. See where your associate degree credits will transfer.

What else do I need to know about the program?


The Prototype & Design Technology program at NWTC is accredited by the APMM, Association of Professional Model Makers.

Study Abroad Opportunities

The International Programs staff continually seeks opportunities for students to travel abroad for educational experiences that may be offered in association with program courses.

Learn more about upcoming study abroad opportunities.

Defy expectations and follow your passion

Dream jobs have nothing to do with gender. Discover the benefits of nontraditional occupations.

Association of Professional model makers

Upon examination, the APMM endorses the Prototype & Design program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to meet or exceed its high standards for quality of instruction set by its members.


Classes wherever you have an internet connection. 

  • An in-person career experience, such as an internship, practicum, or credit for prior learning, may be required.
  • Some online courses may be held at specific dates/times.
Classes between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Classes between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
A combination of online classes and Saturday and/or Sunday classes.
12 or more credits per term.
Fewer than 12 credits per term.