UW-Stout News Story

Visit by pro golf star helps make student's internship memorable

September 17, 2013

Even if pro golfer Phil Mickelson hadn’t shown up, Matt Dachel had a summer to remember.

As it was, meeting Mickelson put an exclamation point on an internship that further fueled Dachel's fire to begin his career in plastics engineering, possibly in the sports manufacturing industry.

Dachel is majoring in plastics engineering at University of Wisconsin-Stout. He began an internship July 9 with Callaway, a golf equipment manufacturer based in Carlsbad, Calif., north of San Diego.

On Sunday, July 21, Dachel watched a worldwide TV broadcast as Mickelson came from behind to win the British Open, one of golf's four major tournaments. The win gave Mickelson his first coveted Claret Jug trophy.

A couple of days after the British Open, Mickelson returned to California — he's a San Diego native and still lives there — and stopped at Callaway headquarters. Mickelson uses Callaway clubs and balls. He has been the company's best-known athlete and ambassador for many years.

Callaway employees were told in advance that Mickelson was planning to visit, creating an air of excitement.

One of Mickelson's stops was in research and development, where Dachel was working. Mickelson spoke a few words of thanks to employees, as he did in other departments, and let them share in his success — with a swig of champagne from the Claret Jug.

Matt Dachel, left, and Phil MickelsonMickelson also posed for photos with employees. Dachel was able to get a snapshot with one of his sports heroes, shake his hand and congratulate him on his British Open victory.

"I was there at the right time," Dachel said. "He seems like a really nice guy. He thanked us and said he hit shots no one else could hit that day because he was using Callaway golf equipment."

Dachel was impressed that Mickelson took the time to stop at Callaway, meet employees and pose for dozens of photos almost as soon as he returned to San Diego. He noted, however, that it wasn't out of character because the affable Mickelson is a fan favorite on the PGA Tour.

Dachel's eight-week internship ended Aug. 29. He worked with a computer program that simulates the flow of plastic into the golf ball mold. Most golf balls are made with several layers of polymers.

Dachel's job was to help Callaway improve its golf balls and the production process, although he can't say how because of company trade secrets.

Dachel didn't need on-the-job training: He learned how to use the software simulator at UW-Stout in a class taught by Associate Professor Adam Kramschuster, the program director.

"Matt is an outstanding student, and he really took advantage of the opportunity to learn the skills taught in his plastics engineering coursework to earn an internship with Callaway," Kramschuster said. "I know he did a great job and represented UW-Stout and the program well."

Dachel said UW-Stout is preparing him to work as a plastics project engineer, manufacturing engineer or process engineer. With an eye on the sports manufacturing industry, he's excited to begin his career.

"Working in the sports industry at Callaway was a dream," said Dachel, who has played golf most of his life and was a three-sport standout at Bloomer High School.

"It's nice to have that industry experience. The Callaway internship will be really beneficial when I look for a full-time job," Dachel said.

Thanks to Mickelson, Dachel always will have a special memory to go with his Callaway and California experience.

For more information on the plastics engineering program, click here.

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