Outlook Magazine - Fall 2023

University of Wisconsin-Stout magazine for Alumni and Friends


After crossing the commencement stage on May 6, Zachary Helget (’23) biked across the country on a 2,700-mile, 39-day, eight-state solo ride that led to the “adventure of a lifetime.” Read more about Zach's adventure by scanning the code below.



Share Your News We’d love to hear from you, and your fellow alumni would too! Drop us a line about your promotion, a reunion or just to reminisce.

Stout Traditions Your Alumni Association is interested in learning what

traditions were part of your days on campus. Were there bonfires after the hockey games; did you have weekly dances; what event(s) did your fraternity or sorority hold each year? As you think back to those events, please share them with us. Communications Specialist, Marketing Communications Jack Hajewski University Photographer/Videographer, Marketing Communications Michael Huggins Staff Abbey Goers

Strategic Marketing Officer, Marketing Communications Cheryl Keyes (‘92) Production Manager, Marketing Communications AJ Liedl Creative & Brand Manager, Marketing Communications Jerry Poling

Sara Goodman (’06), Product Development Manager of apparel for Eskimo® ice fishing gear See Page 10

Communications Manager, Marketing Communications Zach Porter (‘20) University Photographer/Videographer, Marketing Communications Katharine Reed Vice Chancellor for Advancement & Alumni Relations Jennie Smith (‘11) Alumni & Donor Relations Coordinator, Stout Alumni Association





Greetings from Chancellor Frank

Message from Katharine Reed

Cade Walters (‘14) Graphic Designer, Marketing Communications Email alumni@uwstout.edu Phone (715) 232-1151 Online Share your news or ideas at www.uwstout.edu/alumni



Year In Review

Scholarships Founded



15 16 17 18 22 24

Better Housing

Photos of the Year

Stout Grove



A Better Campus

Mentored Research

Leading the Way...



Tomorrow’s Academic Programs

Fish On!

Alumni Awards



Enjoying the Ride

Travel with Us

Better Futures

26 28


Class Notes


A Bigger & Better Company

40 Homecoming

Skol!-worthy Experience

/UWStoutAlumni_Official /UWStoutAlumni /StoutAlumni

Stronger Blue Devils

Two UW-Stout alums team up to support dramatic growth of Medtronic Inc., a world leader in making medical devices See Page 22

Message from Chancellor Katherine P. Frank

State funding approved for Heritage Hall. $139M

I am also proud to report that our six-month graduate employment rate increased to 99.4%, which means even more employers (including many of you) recognize the value of our graduates and how they build a better future both in Wisconsin and beyond. And on the enrollment front, we are seeing increases in incoming undergraduate and international students, and our student retention rate continues to rise. To help us continue to build our student populations, we welcomed Dr. Ediz Kaykayoglu (Central Washington University) as our new vice chancellor of Enrollment & Strategic Initiatives and Dr. Dan Freedman (SUNY-New Paltz) as our new dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Management (CSTEMM) this year. I am also happy to welcome Katharine Reed (Cal Poly Humboldt) as our new Vice Chancellor for University Advancement & Alumni Relations. Both Vice Chancellor Reed and I thank you for your contributions to our university and our students. We applaud your successes as alumni, and we are thankful for your support. With your help, we smashed this year’s general fundraising goals! On Giving Day, you helped increase our total gifts by 37% over the previous year. You also helped us exceed our goal for student scholarship support, which will help support even more students along their educational journey. Whether you have supported us for years, or plan to engage or reengage this year, as a community, your achievements, your stories, are featured across this Outlook edition and continue to prove the value of everything we do at Stout. That alone makes me #StoutProud. And there’s so much more to come as we continue to build into the future. With Stout pride,

fter last year’s StoutProud Weekend, homecoming and investiture events, celebra tion continued with an Inno vation Award for Grow, Persist, Succeed , Career Year in Review A

Empolyed or continuing education within six months of graduation. 99.4%

May events included the SGX Stout Game Expo, SOAD’s Senior Show, community concerts and Research Day 2023 , which featured the WiSys Quick Pitch competition and awards for Stu dent and Faculty Researchers of the Year, and 100+ students were honored at UW-Stout’s annual Leadership Awards ceremony hosted a few weeks later. Also in May, SOAD debuted its inaugural UnSpooled Film & Animation Festival , and the university’s industry-leading industrial design showcase, DesignWiscon sin2.0, traveled to Trek , thanks to collabora tion with the company’s design director Hans Eckholm (’94) . By the conclusion of the spring semester, big announcements were just around the corner, including approval of funding for Heritage Hall by Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee and the launch of a first-of-its-kind B.S. Auto mation Leadership degree in Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing areas. Mid-month campus leaders traveled to Utah Tech to make presenta tions at the 2023 Polytechnic Summit . By the time this issue of Outlook hits your mailbox, no doubt there will be plenty more to report, so connect with UW-Stout on LinkedIn, read the full stories above at uwstout.edu/news, check your inbox for monthly alumni updates (or contact us to update your contact info), and join us at homecoming to get #StoutProud in person!

The institution and industry traded honors with the Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC) earning a Regional Impact Award from eco nomic development corp. Momentum West, and UW-Stout presenting Fortune 500 collab orator 3M the inaugural UW System Regents Business Partnership Award . The university was named a Military Friendly school for the 14th straight year, maintaining its silver designation. The Cybersecurity Research and Outreach Center was awarded a $299K Fast Forward Grant to develop paid internships in IT and cybersecurity. And Kraus-Anderson’s Executive VP and COO, Rich Jacobson (’89), returned to campus, “Leading by Example” to offer the 2023 Cabot Executive in Residence address. April rained a shower of accolades and events, including top ranking in Wisconsin for three School of Art & Design (SOAD) programs : B.F.A. Game Design & Development and M.F.A. Design (Princeton Review) and B.F.A. Animation & Digital Media (Animation Career Review). Both Princeton Review rankings placed in the Top 10 nationally among public schools. And the M.S. Rehabilitation Coun seling program ranked in the Top 10 by U.S. News & World Report. By mid-month, UW-Stout launched a four week Stout Showcase , which opened with Theatre’s “Be More Chill” (its first production since 2019), Fashion Without Fabric’s return to the runway and other events during Destina tion Weekend . Meanwhile, more than 50 Stout students presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research on topics ranging from mathematic modeling for irrigation prac tices to voter attitudes.

Services’ on-campus job program, delivered in December from the Wisconsin Association of Colleges and Employers. The School of Management kicked off 2023 by launching a first-of-its-kind Service Excel lence course with Forbes Travel Guide in high-end hospitality, which leverages rela tionships with leading locales like Destination Kohler and industry experts like Pete Hayda (’79) and Robert Sereci to better position new grads for top-paying jobs post-graduation. In February, HRTM/real estate student Hunter Kuester, a leading advocacate for the blind, was appointed to the UW System President’s Advi sory Committee on Disability Issues, and the Blue Devil Women’s Basketball won a reg ular season conference title —the team’s first in 16 years. Stout success March-ed on with four education alumni leaders taking home awards, including Emily Larson (’03) , who was named 2 023 Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Asso ciation of Family and Consumer Sciences; Kendra Haessly (’88) , two-time Crystal Apple awardee; Jonathan Szymanski (’22) , a Golden Apple winner and Jamie Nord (’06, ’08 ), who was named Outstanding Central Office Leader from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. And the month had much more to offer.


reetings Blue Devil alumni and supporters!

Business and industry coop, internship and research partners. 700+

It is a privilege to introduce another edition of Outlook magazine. As you will see, Stout’s success, and yours as an alumni community, keeps building . Before you read on, there are few things I would like to highlight. First, I’m extremely proud that UW-Stout is one of only two UW schools operating without a budgeted structural deficit. Fiscal responsibility is a critical point of pride for Stout—not only do we live what we teach our students about their own financial wellness (a Financial Wellness & Literacy Center for students launched this fall); we are setting an example for others to follow by establishing a solid foundation from which to build intentionally and strategically. Thanks to many supporters who advocated for UW-Stout and our strong contribution to Wisconsin’s workforce, the legislature invested in UW-Stout and supported full funding for our Heritage Hall Renovation Project. The project will be shovel-ready this spring.

Financial support for student scholarships. $3.2M

Annual economic impact in our immediate region. $306M+





ear / Photos of the Year / Photos of the Year / Photos of the Year / Photos of the Year / Photos of the Year / Photos of the Year / Pho





Research Mentored

Students in many career paths benefit from supported experiential learning in the field and in the lab

Training the next generation of water scientists A $306,108 Freshwater Collabora tive of Wisconsin grant to enhance water-related training opportu nities supported eight research projects led by university faculty across multiple disciplines, includ ing the Red Cedar Basin Monitor ing Program. University and high school stu dents, led by co-director Keith Gilland, assistant professor of biology, monitored nutrient levels, algae blooms, water clarity and volume, and researched macro invertebrates and more at Gilbert Creek, lakes Menomin and Tainter, and the Hay River in Dunn County.

A positive change in land use & water quality Eleven students from universities across the nation studied the health of the Red Cedar watershed, which is affected by eutrophication – phosphorus and nitrogen pollu tion that causes blue-green algal blooms. LAKES REU students conducted research in anthropol ogy, psychology, biology and engi neering. Reviving the region’s lakes Every summer, students venture to area lakes with Senior Researcher Bill James, Center for Limnolog ical Research and Rehabilitation director, to analyze water quality and lake sediment to better under stand algal problems and find man agement options. At Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire, chemical applications reduced phosphorous and controlled curly leaf pondweed. Prior to treat ment, the beach was often closed because of algal blooms and poor water quality. Water clarity has improved, phosphorous is down by 60%, algal blooms are down by more than 70% and native aquatic plants are rebounding.

Ensuring food & water quality Caitlyn Lisota, a food science and technology junior, researched efforts that could help make water safer to drink and food safer to eat. She helped create a rapid, ready to-use, low-cost test kit for E. coli and coliforms. Lisota presented to state leaders at Research in the Rotunda at the state Capitol in March.

Preserving the Punchbowl Devil’s Punchbowl Preserve near Menomonie is a treasured geo logic wonder. Hundreds of people trek down the staircase each year to marvel at the waterfall and sandstone cliffs. In hopes to bring awareness to the Punchbowl’s biodiversity, envi ronmental science student Britney Serafina identified and catalogued more than 200 vascular plant spe cies; more than 30 mosses and liverworts, including two mosses new to Dunn County; 12 species of ferns and 12 species of sedge. In 1998, Stout University Founda tion donated the Punchbowl to the Landmark Conservancy, which protects and manages more than 40,000 acres in Wisconsin.

To the health of humankind In February, applied biochemistry and molecular biology student Joshua Rusnak began isolating bacteriophages, viral entities that infect some types of bacteria and could someday be a new way to treat drug-resistant infections. He uploaded his work to the National Center for Biotechnology Infor mation database for access by researchers around the world. “Research has greatly helped to solidify the often difficult con cepts we learn in the classroom and move them to a tangible space. Research is the space where you can observe theory come to life,” he said. EVCO donation & sustainable research With a focus on sustainability research and development, EVCO Plastics donated $100,000 to UW-Stout’s plastics engineering program. EVCO Chairman and CEO Dale Evans (’73) visited campus to present the donation. The funding supported five senior capstone projects by 11 students, who presented their projects at EVCO last spring. “There are 51 million tons of plastic consumed in a year and only 5% of this is being repurposed. We wanted to find a way to put this to use,” said Bradley Sarauer (’23) , who was hired by EVCO.

From biofuel to cancer cells Six applied biochemistry and molecular biology students used brewer’s yeast to metabolize lac tose and turn it into ethanol, an important biofuel. Another team studied yeast to better understand MCA1, a caspase protein that protects mul ticellular organisms, like humans, from out-of-control cell growth.





With more than one million fishing licenses sold in Wisconsin in 2022, adding to the $2.3 billion industry in the state, Sara Goodman (’06) is helping to ensure the safety and comfort of those stepping out onto the ice, come winter. As a product development manager of apparel for Eskimo® Ice Fishing Gear, and other brands at Ardisam Inc., Goodman designs technical cloth ing for ice anglers and products that make time on the ice more enjoyable. “I’m continually seeking out new technology and sources to strive to develop the best quality ice fishing products,” said Goodman, an apparel design and development alum, who tests her own prototypes, including donning an UplyftTM technology suit and jumping in a pool to test its flotation. “Technical clothing functions to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. It helps you move. It uses fabrics and trims that serve specific purposes, whether it is waterproof or sweat wicking. The designer also needs to design lines and engineer fit to enhance movement, not hinder it.” Ardisam, an innovator in outdoor products since 1960, is based in Cumber land, just an hour north of Goodman’s hometown of Eau Claire. Her designs are inspired by feedback from pro staff, customers and co-workers, new technology in the industry, outerwear technical clothing for other winter activities, as well as nature and body shape. “I just really enjoy designing outerwear, and it’s hard to pick out a favorite. Our Superior system suit is one of the more detailed items. From drawing to selecting fabric and trims, it is definitely more of a full creative product development experience, and in some ways, more fulfilling,” Goodman said. Eskimo offers several outerwear and lifestyle apparel series, as well as pop-up and sled shelters, augers and accessories. Eskimo products, in sig nature red and shades of gray, can be found at most major sporting goods outlets. Goodman began her career with Ardisam in 2017, and found the team to be immediately honest, humble, down to earth and hard-working. “Being able to start an ice fishing line of apparel at that type of company seemed to be a great fit for my experience and personality,” she said. w

Working in the apparel industry for nearly twenty years, Goodman began her career as an assistant pattern-maker, has served as a merchandise prod uct specialist, assistant product manager, technical designer and senior designer for various companies. Goodman thinks UW-Stout’s apparel program helped prepare her for the industry, both academically and mentally. Every day, she uses the funda mentals of quality assurance in stitch and seam selection, fittings, testing standards and more, to market research, line planning, illustration, indus trial sewing and operations and pattern-making. “Mentally, you’re being pushed to your limit in design courses, and having professors and classmates critique your work prepares you for feedback and comments you get in fit sessions and sample reviews. You cannot take anything personally. It’s about making the best product for the market and seeing consumers love your product,” she added. Goodman encourages apparel, fashion and retail students and recent grad uates who are building their careers to always be open-minded with a positive attitude. “Attitude and teamwork go a long way,” she said. “Your internships and non-apparel courses matter a lot too – like accounting and management information systems. They can help you understand business as a whole and how to work in cross-functional teams. Soak up all the knowledge you can.”

(Left & Right) Sara Goodman in Eskimo ice fishing gear.





A As head of design at Trek, Hans Eckholm is helping create bicycles, accessories for world market May 2023, Trek bicycles — one of the world’s leading manufac turers of recreational and racing bikes — hosted the second annual DesignWisconsin event at its headquarters in Waterloo, Wis., east of Madison. Professional product designers and those interested in design gathered to talk about great product design by more than 15 Wisconsin-based companies. One of the designers who felt right at home was Hans Eckholm ('94) . As head of design at Trek, he was in his element – plus UW-Stout co-sponsored the event and it was founded by Assistant Professor David Richter-O’Connell. A bachelor’s degree in industrial and product design helped Eck holm find a career that he loves. “I always had an interest in math and engineering but also had an artistic side. I didn’t realize at first there was a career that combined those things. I’ve been trying to get the word out ever since,” he said. “It’s been a great career for me, to be part of a team to bring prod ucts to market, to put your stamp on something. The relationship between engineering and design is really tight. It’s great to see people get on a bike and be indirectly responsible for that.” Eckholm’s design resume includes two bikes Lance Armstrong used in the Tour de France. Trek sponsors more than 20 profes sional teams. From high-end road bikes to mountain bikes, kids’ bikes, town cruisers and now ebikes, which can power their own lights, Trek has become a leader across a crowded international market. He oversees a team of 60 to 70 designers, including one group in the Netherlands. His team works with Trek-sponsored profes sional riders but also designs bike accessories such as lights, hel mets, tools, pumps, car racks and clothing. “Hundreds of products a year come out from our staff,” he said. “We’re definitely one of the biggest players in the bike world. What’s maybe surprising is that we do more business outside the U.S. now than inside,” Eckholm said. He has been at Trek for 19 years. Several other UW-Stout alum work on his design team and one in packaging. “I thought I’d be at Trek for maybe three years because there’s only so much you can do with a bike, but that’s definitely not the case. There’s lots of innovation and cool technology.”




Grace Minder, B.S. Applied Social Science


Ben Olkowski, B.S. Construction Ben Olkowski, of Kimberly, started his con struction career working on solar and renew ables projects as a coordinator for AZCO Inc., a heavy industrial contractor that works all over the country. “Stout’s construction major is designed to build excellent graduates that employers all over the country are looking to hire. I have gained valu able hands-on experience with building prac tices, industry software and practical knowledge to help me succeed in my future career,” Olkow ski said. “The people at Stout have been the differ ence-maker. Because of them, I have so many memories from my time here, and they are the reason I am where I'm at today,” he added. Grace Minder, B.S. Applied Social Science Grace Minder came to UW-Stout without a clear sense of direction. “All I knew is that I wanted to help people,” she said. After taking a year off school, Minder, of St. Paul, talked with faculty and discovered the applied social science program. She was hired before graduation as a practitioner at People Inc., the largest mental health nonprofit in Minnesota. “My major did an amazing job of educating me on so many of the important aspects of our soci ety and how they are all connected. I was able to

envision a career for myself. This time has given me the confidence to go out into the world and do my part in making my community a better place,” she said.

For decades, students have chosen UW-Stout for its applied learning approach to education, knowing that hands-on experiences and paid internships, among other advantages, better pre pare them for careers. And they’re correct – more students than ever have landed jobs within six months of gradu ation, according to the latest First Destination report. While every graduate has a story to tell, the following members of the spring class of 2023 perfectly embody the university’s reputation for student success and the drive of Blue Devils entering the workforce. Pablo Sotomayor, M.S. Food Science and Technology Food science first sparked Pablo Sotomayor’s fascination watching his dad, a food engineer, work in the lab. With interests in research ing pathogens that affect food, such as E. coli and salmonella, Sotomayor, of Loja, Ecuador, believed a master’s degree would help further his career opportunities. He was hired before graduation as a research and development food scientist at Downs Food Group, in Mankato, Minn. “The Stout master’s program is focused on hands-on projects that will aid me in my job as an R&D food scientist. The program allowed me to gain more practical experience in a setting that will be beneficial to my career,” Sotomayor said.



Pablo Sotomayor, M.S. Food Science & Technology

(Right) Hans Eckholm.







Dean Weidner believes the real estate property management program at UW-Stout is making a difference around Wisconsin and the U.S. It’s why last spring he donated $1,050,000 — his third major donation since 2012, totaling $2.5 million — to help educate the leaders of tomor row in the housing industry. “Our long-term investment in the program reflects my confidence in the curriculum; the fact that the educators have prior industry experience; and that we’ve seen strong results in terms of the stu dents recruited to our team,” Weidner said “By partnering with colleges and universities, we can help shape the education of the upcoming work force and embed the requirements of the industry into the curriculum. I look forward to our contin ued partnership for many years to come.” Weidner Apartment Homes, founded in 1977, has hired 84 UW-Stout graduates and 161 stu dent interns in the past decade. Three spring 2023 graduates began their careers with the company, which has properties in 12 states, including 13 cities in Wis., and Canada. The donation includes $500,000 for scholar ships — up to 20 a year for $5,000 to first-year and transfer students — along with $550,000 to recruit students. With 60-plus students, the pro gram already is believed to be the largest of its kind in the U.S. “There continues to be strong demand in the resi dential property management sector for workers to lead the day-to-day operations of the nation’s numerous multifamily housing communities,” Weidner said.

The 2016 UW-Stout history book “An Idea Comes of Age” cites one of the key reasons why the university — and why education and higher education in particular — exist. “Tomorrow is what matters most. Tomorrow is what drives the students, leaders, faculty and staff. It’s why, 125 years after it opened UW-Stout remains a proud, productive and progressive institution.”

Building for tomorrow, for the future, continues to inspire those associated with UW-Stout, an innovation and technology leader since its inception in 1891. In this first section of the magazine are a half-dozen shining examples of how that tradition is continuing — as rock legend Steve Miller sang — into the future.

Dean Weidner and two of his company's properties.








Sixteen years after first proposing a complete renovation of the busy, 50-year-old Heritage Hall classroom building, UW-Stout received full funding approval this summer in the 2023 25 state budget to move ahead with the $139 million project. Degree programs housed in Heritage produce career-ready teachers, school and clinical mental health counselors, police officers, food scientists, property managers and directors of hotels, restaurants and tourism. The renovation, with new labs and updated classrooms, could double the number of students using the build ing each year. “I have heard significant concerns voiced about child care, mental health, manufacturing and other issues impacting local economies. Heri tage Hall is part of the solution,” said Chancel lor Katherine Frank, who thanked alumni and business and industry partners who advocated for the project and who have provided $13.5 million in private support. “Stout graduates are the backbone of Wisconsin communities, large and small.” At a campus news conference after the budget was signed, state Reps. Clint Moses (’99) and Rob Summerfield (’02) , echoed Frank’s com ments. The project, which includes demolition of the oldest portion of the Vocational Rehabilitation Building, the university’s original library built in 1954, will begin bid for construction in fall 2024.

A few blocks from Heritage, renovation wrapped up this summer at South Hall, built in 1967. The $25 million residence hall project, which fea tures a new central entrance on the north side facing the campus mall, began in spring 2022. The project had a UW-Stout twist: Construction majors Noah Gansluckner and Tommy Quinn were part of the Market & Johnson building crew. Alum Ryan Wichmann (’10) was overall project manager, and Chad Schlough (’97) was an HVAC manager for a subcontractor. It’s the fifth campus residence hall renova tion since 2010 (Hovlid 2010, Fleming 2012, McCalmont 2014 and North Hall 2019), with more in the capital plan. UW-Stout also plans to upgrade the recreation complex, featuring an addition to the southwest part of the Sports and Fitness Center.

A After debuting three new academic programs last year — cybersecurity, individualized studies and online early childhood education — several more rolled out this fall as UW-Stout continues to address workforce needs. A new online bachelor’s in automation leadership is designed for technical and community college transfers who have training in SACA — the Smart Automation Certification Alliance. The program will prepare graduates to solve engineering problems involving smart automation manufacturing sys tems that employ robots, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and more. The Wisconsin Technical College System supports the program — believed to be the first of its kind anywhere — along with leading state manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson, Kohler, Mercury Marine, Oshkosh Corp., Ashley Furniture, Generac, Greenheck Group and Plexus. “Wisconsin and the U.S. are in dire need of educational institutions willing to see higher education for what it will be in the future – highly flexible, hands-on, career-relevant, affordable and efficient. This degree is tremen dously forward-thinking,” said Matt Kirchner, a national advanced manu facturing expert and SACA board member. Automation leadership, esports coaching minor, apprenticeship, new certificates join university’s academic array.

A new minor in coaching esports, first in the UW System, builds on the growing interest in the sport and UW-Stout’s team, which is starting its fourth season. The new minor is an offshoot of an existing coaching minor. The minor will appeal to students majoring in game design or animation, Blue Devil esports athletes and others drawn to the $2 billion a year worldwide industry. A new apprenticeship program, first in the UW System, has been created through the state Department of Workforce Development. It includes one year of on-the-job-training, followed by a pathway to an undergraduate or graduate degree at UW-Stout. Five new certificates are available to enhance a degree-holder’s career: workforce development specialist, strategic leadership in talent devel opment, teaching and training, improving user experience and teaching adult learners. THIS DEGREE IS TREMENDOUSLY FORWARD-THINKING. "

(Top) Rendering of Heritage Hall remodel (Bottom) South Hall





H Heidi Schultz (’05) and Ryan Englebert (’06) were all in as Blue Devil athletes. Heidi stood out as a midfielder in soccer, starting every game in her four years; she was all-conference and two-time Academic All-American. Ryan was so good his senior year, rushing for more than 900 yards, that the next year he had a tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. Athletics was a passion, and it’s ultimately what brought them together when they met in 2005 at a soccer-football social and began dating. It just so happened they both were business administra tion majors too, although Heidi started in graphic design. After marrying in 2008 they found a career path that’s tied to their UW-Stout past — an athlet ics-based business — but one that ultimately is all about building futures. In 2010, they founded ETS Performance, or Englebert Training Systems, a company that helps others achieve their potential as athletes and individuals.


Blue Devils and business alum Heidi and Ryan Englebert put passion, skills education into training, guiding athletes at ETS Performance

(Below) Alums Heidi and Ryan Englebert founded ETS — Englebert Training Systems — in 2010. It has grown to more than 30 facilities across the Midwest.

ETS has become the fourth largest such business in the world. Using a model that Ryan created that allows select former NFL and NHL clients of ETS to be minority partners, the Woodbury, Minn.- based company is poised for more growth. ETS had 17 facilities a year ago, soon will have 34 and within five years hopes to have 100, including one in every NFL city. “We’ve created something life-changing. We’re helping athletes become the best they can be but also mentally preparing them for life after sports and what tools they need to be successful,” Ryan said. “That’s what drives us to grow our business, the impact we know we make in every community.” Young athletes, especially, learn intangibles that carry over into their daily lives. “We’re helping develop the next generation of leaders,” Heidi said. “They learn self-confidence, are more focused and disciplined. It’s the ripple effect of how athletes excel on their teams, in their lives and in their com munities.” A company born from adversity ETS bears the Englebert name for good reason. Heavily recruited out of high school with multi ple Division I scholarship offers, Ryan played one season at UW-Madison in 2002 before suffering a back injury and transferring to UW-Stout.






In fall 2003, Ryan suffered a hip fracture, dis located pelvis, broken ribs, knee damage and other injuries from a car accident when another driver crossed the center line. His doctor said he wouldn’t play football again and may not walk or walk normally again. “It’s how you handle adversity, learning what you’re capable of that determines where you go in life,” Ryan said. Determined, he lived and worked out for six months with his brother, Cory, an innovative trainer. “Without him, there’s no way I would have gotten back to playing. It was next-level stuff,” Ryan said. Against long odds, Ryan returned to the Blue Devils the very next fall, only to miss about half of the season with a broken ankle. Then, he missed the 2005 season with a knee injury. Finally, in 2006, it all came together his senior season. After college, Heidi worked in marketing and Ryan with Cory doing performance training. Then, Ryan and Heidi went all in again — like in their Blue Devil days — opening their first ETS facility in 2010 in Woodbury. “We saved every cent we had and put it all into the business. We had no choice but to be successful,” Ryan said. Having done their market research, they knew the Twin Cities east metro area was big into sports but had few performance facilities. They started with fewer than 20 athletes and had 200 within seven months, simply through flyers and athlete referrals. “We knew we had something,” Ryan said. “We developed a culture and atmo sphere that’s contagious.” They developed unique training methods based on extensive research. The focus is on strength, speed, acceleration, deceleration, agility, disci pline and high-energy motivation. Each athlete, depending on age (as young as 8), sport and goals, receives customized training to help max imize their potential. The facilities are modest in size, 5,000 square feet or less, and the train One athlete in particular helped boost ETS — Adam Thielen. When he finished his Mankato (Minn.) State career and had NFL aspirations, he traveled four times a week to Woodbury to train under Ryan, who became one of his best friends. Thielen was an undrafted free agent in 2013 but then signed with the Minnesota Vikings and became an All-Pro wide receiver over the past decade. A believer in ETS, Thielen and his wife, Caitlin, have become ETS minority owners. er-to-athlete ratio is low. Professional connections

Their UW-Stout education had “a huge role” in helping them successfully start and run their business, Heidi said. Two former UW-Stout athletes, Michael Blizel and Trevor Morning, are ETS employees, and an intern this past summer was a UW-Stout student majoring in video production. The Engleberts have three children, 7, 10 and 13, and live in western Wisconsin about 25 minutes from ETS headquarters in Woodbury.

(Left) Alyssa Ustby, a University of North Carolina basketball player, trains at ETS. (Below) Along with the Engleberts, left, the ETS leadership team includes, from left, facility partners and pro athletes CJ Ham, Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen; CEO Jed Schmidt and CFO Chad Stiernagle.

The Engleberts, with Ryan focusing on the train ing and expansion and Heidi overseeing market ing, finances and more, opened a second facility in 2016 in nearby Lakeville, Minn., and a third and fourth in 2017 in Menomonie and Holland, Mich. During COVID, ETS grew as athletes used down time to get stronger and faster. ETS has trained more than 2,500 college athletes, 200 professionals and Olympians — such as Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher J.P. Feyereisen, Minne sota Vikings fullback CJ Ham, New York Giants center J.C. Hasenauer, Pittsburgh Penguins All Star Jake Guentzel — and 50,000-plus youths. They’ve pushed to break the stigma of strength training for girls and women and are approach ing 50% female clients. ETS has five owners but partners with current and former pro-athletes at various locations.

They include Kirk Cousins, Marcus Sherels, Chad Greenway and C.J. Ham, Vikings; John Kuhn, Green Bay Packers; and NHL players Ryan Carter, Alex Stalock and Thomas Vanek. Other pros are interested. “We’re very blessed with great partners and a great corporate team who all embody and believe in our mission to impact youth athletes,” said Ryan. A new team member is Cory Englebert. “Ninety percent of what I know I learned from him. There would be no ETS without him,” Ryan said. “We have really good people, and that’s what makes this work,” Heidi said, including 90% of facility managers who once were clients. “When you’re clear on your mission and values, people take that and run with it.”






“Stout met and exceeded my expectations,” Hag mann said. “They had excellent teachers who made learning enjoyable. During the process I made numerous lifelong friends and had a lot of fun. I worked my way through college, but I loved my time there.” The positive experience they had at UW-Stout was duplicated at Medtronic — McCombs and Hagmann felt blessed to be there. Medtronic was founded in 1949 by electrical engineer Earl Bakken and his brother-in-law in a garage in northeast Minneapolis. A company tradi tion was the annual holiday celebration, where patients gave moving testimonials regarding how Medtronic’s life-saving products positively impacted them and their families. “It’s a great company driven by its mission state ment, which is to ‘restore people to full life,’” Hagmann said. “Rodger and I achieved success by building great teams of highly qualified pro fessionals. It seemed that every time you turned around there was a need for more real estate and shared services.”

A memorable project they oversaw was Medtron ic’s award-winning, world headquarters in Frid ley, Minn., that opened in 2000, a $154 million, 500,000-square-foot, five-building complex. “It’s a wonderful feeling when I drive by such an iconic building and that I am able to show my grandchildren,” Hagmann said. They also managed the national award-win ning, 1.2-million-square-foot, $291 million new campus in Mounds View, Minn., which included a 5,000-car parking ramp and had the governor’s endorsement. And there was Medtronic’s Euro pean headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva and the French Alps. McCombs lived in Switzerland for eight months in the mid-1990s to help see the project through. “I had access to senior management, which was very important for me to get things done,” said McCombs, who retired as vice president of Busi ness Shared Services, a key role as Medtronic expanded and consolidated systems. Previous to that role, he was director of corporate adminis tration. “The corporation was on quite a curve of growth and income.” McCombs had a $60 million annual operating budget and a staff of 160 people in several divi sions, including Hagmann, a UW-Stout frater nity brother with whom he worked closely. In

fact, McCombs recruited Hagmann, who began as a facility engineer and was promoted to direc tor of Real Estate and Construction. Hagmann traveled around the world negotiating facility leases, planning building projects and partici pating on the Medtronic due diligence team for mergers and acquisitions. Hagmann created a model the company used to plan facility needs based on sales projections, employee growth and productivity goals. The model helped convince Medtronic senior man agement when new facilities would be needed. McCombs and Hagmann believe their UW-Stout education, with lab projects like a factory simu lation in a class taught by Zeke Smolarek (’64, ’66) , set them up for success. “I was a hands-on guy. Stout was very good at that but also the visionary element and how you plan for growth, perceive goals and track them,” said McCombs, who also cited Professor Ray Hansen. McCombs grew up in a rural area 25 miles north west of Milwaukee, first attending UW-Whitewa ter then UW-Platteville before finding UW-Stout, where he met his future wife, Marcia Zakaria sen , at a dance. Hagmann, from Eau Claire, had a summer internship at Medtronic through Stout’s Career Services. Both had other jobs out of col lege before soon landing at Medtronic.


Fraternity brothers teamed up to support dramatic growth of Medtronic Inc., a world leader in making medical devices

Rodger McCombs (’69) and Donn Hagmann (’76) graduated from UW-Stout when Medtronic Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, was beginning to make a name for itself in the growing biomedical engineering field. When they retired from Medtronic, McCombs in 2006 and Hagmann in 2011, it was the world’s leading medical device-maker doing business in 120 countries. Core products include implantable cardiac pacemakers and vascular, neurolog ical and diabetic products, to name a few. They feel fortunate to have been a part of the company as revenue increased dra matically from $50 million to $15.9 billion during their careers. Their UW-Stout industrial technology majors provided the qualifications to manage construction of more than $1 billion worth of new or expanded Medtronic facilities around the U.S. and world.

(Previous Page) Alums Rodger McCombs (Left) and Donn Hagmann (Right) (Top) Medtrontic headquarters





A Around west-central Wisconsin, Hoeft Builders is known for its upscale commercial and industrial buildings. The company also builds community connections, helping sponsor the Eau Claire Mara thon and supporting building projects with nonprof its like the Eau Claire Children’s Museum and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley. When co-owners Peter Hoeft, Jay Rideout (’04) and Luke Rykal (‘05) learned that UW-Stout Ath letics needed new weights in the athletes’ weight lifting room, they didn’t hesitate to provide $76,000 to Stout University Foundation to make it possible this past summer. Hoeft is Stout Proud — helping build stronger Blue Devils already this fall at the newly christened Built by Hoeft Weight Room but also with its history of hiring UW-Stout graduates and interns. “It feels great to be at a point in life where we can start giving back,” said Rykal, who played outside linebacker for the Blue Devil football team from 2001-04. He has a degree in business administra tion with an emphasis in construction. Rideout, a construction graduate, agreed. “This takes me back to when I was going to Stout, and I’d see different rooms named for donors. Now that we’re part of that, it’s pretty special.”

Hoeft Builders has a new office in the bustling River Prairie area of Altoona near Eau Claire. The company was founded in the 1980s by John Hoeft, Peter’s father. It provides construction manage ment services, guiding businesses through projects from start to finish. The company has expanded sig nificantly in recent years, now with 40 employees and having done work in eight states. The weight room gift is a testament to Hoeft Build ers’ connection to UW-Stout as well as to an over arching mission to be a company that values the communities and people where it does business. “It’s a natural fit. We’re a construction company, but we’re a people company. We’re relation ship-driven,” Rideout said.

BUILDING: STRONGER BLUE DEVILS Hoeft Builders owners, including two alums, give back to the university to upgrade weight room for athletes

They learned about the weight room need from Erin Sullivan (’10) , deputy director of Athlet ics and a friend of Rykal’s. “When I walked in, it brought back a lot of memories. I attribute a lot of my success to athletics and to Stout. I said, ‘We’d love to be part of it.’Athletics builds character, but you get so much more out of it,” Rykal said. The gift also was supported by Peter Hoeft. “He understands the company’s connection with UW-Stout,” Rideout said. All of Hoeft’s new project managers and superin tendents are UW-Stout graduates, many of whom were interns with the company. Hoeft typically has two to four UW-Stout interns a summer. Rykal and Rideout believe in the university’s polytechnic approach to education. “We both had good intern ships at Stout, and it kick-started our careers,” Rykal said.

(Top) A Blue Devil football player uses the new weights in the Built by Hoeft Weight Room in the Sports and Fitness Center. (Left) The co-owners of Hoeft Builders, from left, are Jay Rideout, Peter Hoeft and Luke Rykal.






Gymnastics: The Blue Devils finished third in the nation with a score of 190.275 at the National Collegiate Gym nastics Association championships, including a school record 38.325 in the balance beam. Four gymnasts were NCGA All-Americans, and Kiara Brown was WIAC Gymnast of the Year. Women’s Basketball: They went 18-8 and won their first regular season WIAC championship since 2007. Hannah Iverson was named WIAC Coach of the Year. Raegan Sorensen, Anna Mutch and Amanda Giesen were All-WIAC. Football: The team went 5-5, including a school record for points with a 66-6 win over Crown College then a 73-29 romp over UW-Eau Claire, their seventh straight War on 94 trophy. They also had a triple overtime 24-22 win over No. 22-ranked UW-Platteville. Several players made the All-WIAC first team. Ice Hockey: The Blue Devils went 17-11-1 and advanced to the WIAC semifinals for the first time since the 2015 16 season. The 17 wins were the fourth most in program history, and several players made All-WIAC.

Golf: The women were third in the conference, and Abbey Filipiak made All-WIAC.

Cross Country: The men were third and the women fourth in the WIAC. Spencer Schultz qualified for nation als for the fourth straight season, finishing 37th to earn All-American honors. Schultz and Matthew Ryan were All-WIAC

Blue Devil Athletics had plenty of big moments during the 2022-23 academic year, led by the gymnastics team taking third in the nation and the women’s basketball team winning its first conference title in 16 seasons. It also was a year of growth as the new women’s lacrosse team finished its first season; a new men’s soccer program was announced, beginning play in fall 2024; and the esports team named its first head coach, Aaron Froehlich.

Volleyball: They went 12-16 in Coach Ben Staupe’s first season. Sidney Hoverman was All-WIAC.

Men’s Basketball: The injury bug hit with five players missing significant time. In a win over Greenville, school records were set for most points, 147; and most points by one player, Brody Fox, 70. Track & Field: Five qualified for nationals, Mason Barth, Kaden Martin, Karter Rashke, Jack Roeber and Raegan Sorensen. Making All-American were Barth, third in the decathlon, and Sorensen, fourth in the javelin. Lacrosse: In their first season, the Blue Devils scored their first goal on their first shot in the first minute of their first game. They are looking forward to competing for a conference title in 2024, when the WIAC officially spon sors the sport. Baseball, Softball: The baseball team went 15-18, and first baseman Justin Sedin was All-WIAC after hitting .438. The softball team went 11-26, with two honorable mention All-WIAC players.





Skol!-worthy experience

Alums’ Viking ship tiny house one of 100 ideas from around the world to win Airbnb lodging, design competition.

M innesota is rightly proud of its deep Scandinavian roots. After all, the NFL Vikings play in a Viking-themed stadium and fans chant “Skol!” (or cheers) after a touchdown. That’s what Elena Mercurio ( ’ 09) , thought of in 2022 when she saw on social media that Airbnb had a contest seeking out-of the-box ideas. When her research showed that there was no Viking ship lodging in Minnesota — or apparently in the world — she and partner Thomas Hynes (’10) knew they had an idea with cachet. Hynes, an industrial design graduate, did some sketching in Illustrator, dusted off his blueprint skills and drew up plans for a 425-square-foot wood tiny house shaped like a Viking ship. They entered the idea, along with “tens of thousands” of others from around the world, according to Airbnb. They made the first cut, down to 500, and the second down to 200. For Mercurio and Hynes’ final entry submission, a video, they included a Min nesota Vikings helmet to help seal the deal. And they won $100,000 — one of 100 winners from 20 countries — to create a Skol!-worthy addition to the OMG! page at Airbnb.

Hynes recalled a design project at UW-Stout in which students fused ele ments of nature with modern design. This challenge was similar. “When you can nail form and function together really well, that’s the best as far as design goes.” The structure has been named Knarr House, in honor of a type of Viking merchant ship. Booking is available exclusively on Airbnb for the first year. Search for Viking Ship Knarr House or follow @knarrhouse on Instagram or Facebook. Mercurio and Hynes live in Columbia Heights, Minn. She is a product trainer and content marketer for Aura Cacia essential oils. “I’ve missed having a creative project,” Mercurio said. “This has affirmed that we are both designers with creative ideas.” Hynes is an associate manager for Whole Foods in Maple Grove. If their Viking ship project goes well, they have ideas for other themed tiny houses and could envision this becoming their full-time work. “It’s creatively validating for me. Something I conceptualized is now a reality,” Hynes said. “There are days when I just want to go up and work on the Viking ship.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mercurio, an apparel design major. “I knew we had a really cool idea, but what are the chances they would pick us?” “When I got the text from Elena that we won, I thought she was messing with me,” Hynes said. “Shortly after that we realized, ‘Oh, man, we have to do this, build it and promote it.’” They spent the next 10 months working to meet Airbnb’s Aug. 1, 2023, deadline. They found a builder to make the 1-bedroom-plus, 75-foot-long ship. It will have a shiplap, cedar-sided exterior and aspen and white oak interior. A key feature will be a deck, with an interior staircase leading to a rooftop hatch. A mast on the deck will have a pull-down sail that will function as a screen for watching, say, the Vikings on TV or a movie. Their design melds Viking longship — they went to see a re-created one — with Scandinavian minimalism. The bow will have a dragon head and the stern a dragon trail, with Viking shields on the side. The couple, who are expecting their first child, are doing most of the interior finishing. “We’re blending the old Viking world along with modern design and creature comforts,” Mercurio said. “The deck is where you’ll really feel like you’re on a Viking ship.”





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