UWP alumna extends passion for plastics in career
PLATTEVILLE- Brigitte Lousberg, a 2003 University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduate in industrial technology management with a minor in plastics processing technology, said she didn't know exactly what she was getting into when she chose her major. However, because of UWP's nationally recognized plastics program, she quickly developed an interest in plastics. Now, as the senior production supervisor of Rain Bird Corp.'s Agri-Products Division in Azusa, Calif., she can't see herself in any other industry.
"When I told people I was studying plastics, the overwhelming response I received was, 'Oh, what are you going to do with that?' I would tell them to go to a department store and find one shelf that did not have packaging produced by the plastics process. It's impossible. Every family, business and industry in the world is dependent on some type of plastics process. It's an amazing industry that's incredibly diverse. Also, in the midst of national and global economic crisis, it's an industry that continues to grow," said Lousberg.
Before becoming senior production supervisor, Lousberg worked in a variety of other roles within plastics. These included injection molding, thermoforming, extrusion, safety, quality control, production planning and scheduling, technical training and project engineering. She also has taught lessons in plastics processing to high school students.
"From time to time, I hear people talk about their jobs. I hear things like, 'Same old, same old, just another day.' That's too bad. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the plastics industry. I feel so privileged to be a part of something that's so exciting. I've learned so much and had so many great experiences already and I'm not even 30 years old. It will be very difficult for anyone to grow bored in this profession, which is exactly why I love it," said Lousberg.
UWP helped Lousberg land her career by giving her diverse knowledge and hands-on experience. The UWP Center for Plastics Processing Technology features a laboratory with over $1 million invested in state-of-the-art equipment. Students not only learn how to use the equipment, but produce actual plastic parts, including an ice scraper, key chain and packaging for a promotional package used to recruit prospective students.
"We gained a lot of valuable knowledge with our textbooks and through classroom discussions, but nothing compares to actually getting out there to dial knobs and push buttons. If we are actually going to understand and retain the knowledge that we are gaining in the classroom, we have to physically do the stuff," said Lousberg.
Her first real career experience was an internship with Plastic Ingenuity in Cross Plains. She said it was the most beneficial experience in her UWP career.
"There needs to be some type of bridge that connects the learning and experimenting with the actual succeeding in your profession. The internship acts as that bridge and allows a student to hit the ground running, post-graduation. Since it's part of the UWP program, you've got a built-in stepping stone to a fruitful career," said Lousberg.
To complement her career interests, Lousberg was involved in the Society of Plastics Engineers and American Foundry Society. She said these organizations helped expose her to the career applications of what she was learning in class. She was also able to network with industry professionals. In addition, she was a member of the International Students Club and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and worked as an administrative assistant for Dining Services and International Student Services.
In advising current UWP students, Lousberg stated, "Hunt down one or two professors that you really click with and establish good relationships and resources now. Don't settle doing the book stuff. Get involved in clubs and get an internship. Any hands-on and relational experience you can get will be very helpful; and in everything you do, walk with integrity.
Contact: Brigitte Lousberg, senior production supervisor, Rain Bird Corp., (815) 510-5027, firstname.lastname@example.org Written by: Krystle Kurdi, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194, email@example.com