The complete package
Co-op program award-winner thankful for PepsiCo experience
May 7, 2014
When Sydney Gale
began studying packaging at University of Wisconsin-Stout, she kept hearing
about the school's Cooperative Education program.
She wasn't sure at
first what it involved but figured it must be important because it was
mandatory for packaging students.
Now she knows why.
Last year, Gale landed a co-op position in the Chicago area for the Gatorade
Division of PepsiCo. She helped develop packaging for new Gatorade protein
bars, which hit the market this spring.
"We completed competitive analyses, made carton prototypes,
tested a variety of film sizes and did shelf-life testing in addition to many
other tasks," said Gale.
She also worked on
packaging for other Gatorade products, including the popular hydration
beverage, during her nearly six-month co-op.
As a result of the experience,
Gale feels she's ready to step into a packaging job when she graduates. "I'm so
glad I did it. It was a great learning experience," said Gale, who is most
interested in the area of beverage packaging. "It solidified what I wanted to
Gale was one
of 11 program participants honored recently with a Co-op Meritorious Achievement
Award from Career Services, which oversees the program.
With one more semester before graduating — she plans to
study in Spain in the fall — Gale said she was well-prepared because of her
education at UW-Stout, but the PepsiCo opportunity presented even more unique
"It was great to be able to apply the things I learned from
my classes. By the end of my co-op, I could see the correlation between what I
had learned and what I was doing," she said. "My education definitely allowed me
to excel at my co-op."
Gale also worked
part time one summer as a packaging intern for City Brewery in her hometown of
Rich Rothaupt, associate dean of the College of Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said the Cooperative Education program
is a perfect fit for UW-Stout's applied learning model. "It's one of the great
learning experiences we offer. It really makes and defines what a UW-Stout
degree is all about — learning by doing," he said.
Rothaupt noted that the experience gives students a
competitive edge when they begin looking for full-time work, and often times
they are hired by the company where they had their co-op. Graduates from the
packaging program have reported 100 percent placement for many years.
"It's one of the big reasons for our placement rate of 97
percent," he said, citing UW-Stout's survey of recent graduates who have found
full-time jobs or are continuing in school.
For example, one of this year's honorees, Addie Gecas, had a
co-op in technical design at Kohl's headquarters near Milwaukee. The apparel
design and development major then was hired by Kohl's as an assistant technical
designer after graduating in 2013. Gecas is from Grand Marais, Minn.
UW-Stout's program is one of the largest in the country,
according to Bethany Henthorn, Co-operative Education coordinator.
A record total of 940 UW-Stout students had co-op work
experiences with 525 employers last year through Career Services. Students earn
a wage and receive a grade and academic credit for their efforts. The average
wage was $13.80 an hour; students earned $8.5 million.
"The program is recognized by employers all over the region
and all over the country," Rothaupt said.
The list of major companies involved in the program includes
Walt Disney World, Menards, Harley-Davidson, Kohl's, Target, 3M, IBM, Kohler
The Cooperative Education Meritorious Achievement Award is
given to students who apply and are selected by the program's Advisory
Committee. Students are recognized for excellence and achievements in their
cooperative positions, for contributions to their employers and for academic
The award winners
Award winners, their majors, employers and faculty mentors are:
- Veronica Archibeque, of Greenfield,
Minn., business administration; SkyBridge Americas; Bill Kryshak
- Hannah Buth, of Two
Rivers, hotel, restaurant and tourism management; Walt Disney World; Phil
- Anthony Chiodi, ofNeenah, supply chain management; MOM
Brands (formerly Malt-O-Meal); Gene Gutman
- Amy Eidahl, of Eau Claire,
hotel, restaurant and tourism management; Kalahari Resorts and
Conventions; Phil McGuirk
- Carley Frea, of Sturgeon
Bay, graphic communications management; OEC Graphics; Ted Bensen
- Sydney Gale, of La Crosse,
packaging; PepsiCo, Gatorade Division; Robert Meisner
- Addie Gecas, of Grand
Marais, Minn., apparel design and development; Kohl's; Gindy Neidermyer
- Carolyn Moeger, of River
Falls, art-multimedia design; GovLoop; Kevin Pontuti
- Nischal Shrestha, of
Nepal, applied mathematics and computer science; NewPage; Laura Schmidt
- Ashley Springstroh, of
Appleton, apparel design and development; JanSport, VF Outdoor; Gindy
- Heather Zibrowski, of
Sparta, construction; Next Step Ministries; Tim Becker
The university's Cooperative Education program began in
1982. Since then more than 17,000 students have participated.
For more information, contact Career Services, 715-232-1601.
Top: Sydney Gale
Middle: Nischal Shrestha accepts his co-op award from Chancellor Sorensen.
Bottom: Award-winner Ashley Springstroh, third from left, gets together with co-workers during her co-op at JanSport.