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Rothbauers add third generation to UW-Stout family tree

MENOMONIE, Wis. —  For the Rothbauer family, University of Wisconsin-Stout is a multigenerational experience.

Jasmine Rothbauer, 24, became the third generation of her family to graduate from UW-Stout when she earned her bachelor’s degree Dec. 16 in manufacturing engineering.

Her father, Wayne Rothbauer, graduated from UW-Stout in 2010 with a master’s degree in technology management. Her grandfather, Don Rothbauer, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology in 1979.

Jasmine never expected to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps, but they shared similar interests and she found UW-Stout fit her educational needs. “My grandpa has been my role model since I was a little kid,” Jasmine said. “He has always been the sharpest guy in the room.”

At Hudson High School, Jasmine was involved in Project Lead the Way. The Milwaukee School of Engineering program allows high school students to take engineering courses and get college credit. Jasmine discovered she wanted to go into manufacturing engineering.

“I like problem-solving, and this major is one where you get the chance to do so,” she said.

With her UW-Stout degree in hand, Jasmine starts work in January at Phillips-Medisize in Menomonie as a manufacturing engineer. The first 18 months she will rotate to various positions to help her learn more about the company and learn a variety of responsibilities and new skills.

“It definitely prepares you for a unique set of opportunities and is even tailored to my needs as a growing engineer,” she said.

While at UW-Stout, Jasmine had two internships and a co-op. One internship was at Fremarq Innovations in Wausau and the other at SMC Ltd. in Somerset. The co-op was at Midwest Manufacturing in Eau Claire.

“My internships have all been quite different but have built on each other for my own professional growth,” Jasmine said. “I have experience managing projects, designing and prototyping, managing a quality team and taking lean initiatives.”

Wayne Rothbauer encouraged her to pursue internships. “My dad talked about how he and my uncle Lorne did internships because of the real-life exposure it gets you as an engineer,” Jasmine said. “My dad stressed to do as many as you can. I used them as an opportunity to get a wide spectrum of experience.

“I really enjoyed all of my experiences,” she added. “Lean manufacturing and improving efficiency are really important to me. I like the sustainability of existing processes to make them better.”

Proud father, grandfather

Wayne, 49, who lives north of St. Paul, said it was amazing to see his daughter graduate from UW-Stout. “It was quite a milestone and accomplishment for her,” he said.

He is a quality engineer for Pace Industries in St. Paul. He pursued his master’s from UW-Stout because of the school’s location and programs.

Many people working in his field in the Twin Cities are graduates of UW-Stout, and the university has a great reputation of turning out quality graduates, Wayne said.

Jasmine credits her mother, Jackie, with being emotionally supportive while she attended UW-Stout. Jasmine has two siblings, Matthew, a certified nursing assistant, and Erica, who is majoring in psychology at UW-River Falls.

Don Rothbauer, 68, of Elk Mound, grew up on a dairy farm in the Colfax area and was the only one of 10 children to go to college. He retired from Andersen Windows in Menomonie about six years ago as the site lean manager. Prior to that he worked at Rockwell Automation in Eau Claire as an engineer and at John Deere, where he helped modernize facilities in Waterloo, Iowa, and in Horicon.

Don was thrilled when his granddaughter chose UW-Stout’s manufacturing engineering program. “I was as proud as you can be,” he said. “It was fantastic. I’ve been proud to say I graduated from Stout. You learned practical things at Stout because Stout is a university about getting things done.”

On graduation day, a picture was taken of Jasmine, her father and grandfather. “That is one of my favorite pictures,” she said. “It is very symbolic of my journey following in their footsteps. I didn’t mean to, but it all kind of happened because we had similar interests.

Three other immediate family members also are UW-Stout graduates. Jasmine’s uncles Lorne Rothbauer and Scott Rothbauer have bachelor’s degrees in industrial technology in 1993 and 1992, respectively. Scott earned his master’s from UW-Stout in August 2002 in technology management. Lorne earned his master’s from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Scott’s wife, Nicole, whose maiden name was Bass, earned her bachelor’s in early childhood education from UW-Stout in 1999.