Jan. 19-25, 2001
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Engineering gets $15 million for materials science research

Staff Report

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has received a gift of $15 million, the largest ever received in the school's history. Alumnus Gregory H. Olsen, president and CEO of Sensors Unlimited Inc., a fiber optics firm based in Princeton, N.J., pledged the gift, which will complement a significant effort under way to expand engineering research activities at U.Va., particularly in the area of new materials.

Twenty-four years later, I am still using the background I got in materials science. The principles are the same, whether we're talking metals, semiconductors or plastics.

Gregory H. Olsen 1971 alumnus

"We are especially grateful to Greg Olsen for his most generous gift to the Engineering School," said University President John T. Casteen III. "It comes at a critical time as the University accelerates efforts to strengthen the areas of science and technology. Greg's interest and understanding of what is needed to move the school forward will be key to Engineering's ability to achieve excellence in materials science."

The gift will assure the construction of a new $14 million building that will greatly expand the department's research and teaching space and also will provide new conference rooms and faculty offices, among other facilities. The Engineering School will recommend to the University's Board of Visitors that the building be named Wilsdorf Hall in honor of the late Heinz Wilsdorf, first chair of the department, and his wife, Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf, University Professor of Applied Science. The new structure, due to begin construction in 2002, will connect the University's Materials Science and Chemical Engineering buildings.

"The additional space provided by this building will allow for new collaborative projects between various departments and schools at the University," Engineering dean Richard W. Miksad said. "Such collaborations are important to our school's leadership in emerging technologies." The contribution will enable an already highly ranked program to move into new areas of advanced materials research.

Olsen, who earned his Ph.D. in 1971 from the materials science department, speaks highly of the depth and breadth of the training he received in the Engineering School. "The principles are the same, whether we're talking metals, semiconductors or plastics," he said. "Twenty-four years later, I am still using the background I got in materials science."


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