Originally from Platteville, Rachael Hallstrom grew up close to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, but once she enrolled as a student, she found that the campus provided what she describes as a different world – a separate, unique community with an engineering education that rivals any bigger school.
Hallstrom graduated in 2014 with a degree in industrial engineering and used her UW-Platteville experience to propel her career. She worked more than six years at John Deere, and held a position at Mettler-Toledo, before most recently taking a position as a senior product quality engineer at Vertiv – a data center manufacturing company in Delaware, Ohio.
“I work on the new product development process, including new product introduction and quality checks on new products, as well as looking at continuous improvement processes,” said Hallstrom.
"I think that UW-Platteville was able to give me more hands-on experience than I would have had at other colleges ... Also, it allows you to really connect with people, which is a huge differentiator ..."
Although Hallstrom graduated with a degree in industrial engineering, she started in the Engineering Physics program, which is what attracted her to UW-Platteville.
“I was really interested in physics and chemistry in high school,” said Hallstrom. “But, I eventually changed my major to industrial engineering just based on my love of people. Industrial engineers get to look at problems from a way that allows them to take a step back and ask ‘what’s going on, what’s the root cause, and how do I find a good solution to fix it?’ It gives you a great broad base to work in areas where you can interact with people and at the same time use those hard core technical skills, which I also really like.”
Even though she switched majors, Hallstrom said starting in the Engineering Physics program had a big impact on her experience.
“Having started out within engineering physics and getting integrated into some of those smaller classes and a tight-knit group really made an impact,” said Hallstrom. “It allowed me to make relationships within the staff and the community of students. Those who were older than me really helped guide me and it helped me find other opportunities.”
Those opportunities included working for the Women in STEM program and as a university student ambassador, teacher’s assistant, counselor at the Exploring Engineering Summer Program and an assistant lab director for physics labs.
Now, nearly a decade into her career, Hallstrom says after working in different companies and networking across the field, she can confirm UW-Platteville is increasingly recognized for its engineering reputation – not only in the Southwest Wisconsin and tri-state region, but even outside the area.
“I think that UW-Platteville was able to give me more hands-on experience than I would have had at other colleges,” said Hallstrom. “UW-Platteville prepares you to have that mindset and gives you real-world experience – even from the classroom to the lab – that gets you where you need to be. Also, it allows you to really connect with people, which is a huge differentiator that UW-Platteville offers: how much the staff cares and interacts with you. UW-Platteville’s engineering programs really put out just as great of a product – or person – as a big-name school, but just with a smaller-town feel.”
For more information about engineering at UW-Platteville, visit www.uwplatt.edu/engineering.