Alumna Erin Draeger, 2001

Who Am I? Formerly Erin Rischette, from Tomah, Wisconsin; Graduate of UW-Platteville with a major in Engineering Physics and a minor in Mathematics; May 2001

I came to Platteville in September 1996 as a general engineering major, hoping to major in physics. I declared a major in engineering physics, the closest thing to physics that was offered at Platteville. I was determined to go to grad school for physics, and even participated in two REU programs (Research Experience for Undergraduates) – one at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., and the second at Indiana University Cyclotron Facility in Bloomington, Ind. However, when nearing graduation, I was having second thoughts about whether to become a physicist or engineer… and how cool that the engineering physics major allowed me the opportunity to go whichever direction I chose!

I like to say that every other day I wanted to become an engineer, and it just so happens that I accepted a job offer with Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids on one of those “other” days. I was a systems engineer for Rockwell Collins from May 2001 until January 2005. As a systems engineering for RC, I had the responsibilities of a design engineer (“writing requirements” for avionics systems for hardware statusing and human-to-machine interface), a test engineer (which included flight testing on a KC-135), and a lead engineer for my design and test teams, overseeing cost accounts, milestones, and others’ work.

In October 2002, I married a fellow engineering physics major, Adam Draeger. We lived in an apartment and then bought a house in the Cedar Rapids area. Last fall, we decided to make a move to Pella, Iowa. We both came from small towns and were looking forward to moving back to a small town eventually – who knew it would be in Iowa!? We now both work for Pella Corp. At Pella Corp, I am a project process engineer. While I’m still fairly “new” to the job, as a project process engineer, I am working with other engineers to implement High Impact Glazing (“hurricane glass”) in the Architect Series (one of three “wood” brands offered by Pella Corp) Double Hung (type of window). I am learning about machine design (machines that assist in the assembly of a window), plant layout, and overall project management. I also partake in testing of the windows, events to improve process and design at Pella Corp.

But, I’m not just an engineer… far from it! In my spare time, my passions (some people call them hobbies… ha!) include quilting, needlework, reading, running, gardening (okay, mostly I try to make sure my plants don’t die), attending church and related activities, e-mailing/writing letters, and spending time with my husband and friends… and I suppose I should add remodeling our home, which was built in 1900 (although I like to think this won’t be a hobby that lasts forever!).

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