From Entrepreneur to Space Explorer: Engineering Alum to Share Experience

April 17, 2009 — University of Virginia engineering alumnus Greg Olsen will return to Grounds on Tuesday to share the story of his success as a technology entrepreneur and his experience as a space explorer.

His lecture, followed by a question-and-answer session, will begin at 5 p.m. in Jefferson Hall on the West Range.

Olsen graduated from the Engineering School in 1971 a Ph.D. in materials science. He is probably best known for being the third private citizen to orbit the earth on the International Space Station. In 2005, he made more than 150 orbits and logged almost 4 million miles of weightlessness during 10 days in space. 

He was also the benefactor who made the construction of Wilsdorf Hall possible in 2006. He named the building in honor of the late Heinz Wilsdorf, the first chairman of the Department of Materials Science, and his wife Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf, University Professor of Applied Science. Wilsdorf Hall has transformed the Engineering School's research capabilities in the area of nanotechnology.

Olsen has had an illustrious career as a research scientist, businessman and entrepreneur and currently serves as president of GHO Ventures in Princeton, N.J., where he manages a number of "angel" investments, including a South African winery and a Montana ranch.  He is involved in a number of civic organizations, with a special interest in those that encourage children, women and underrepresented populations to consider careers in science and engineering.

He is a member of the Engineering School's Board of Trustees and a long-time benefactor and supporter of the University and School of Engineering and Applied Science. His visit is part of a spring lecture series hosted by the Engineering School's Rodman Scholars Council.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For information, call the U.Va. Engineering Foundation at 434-924-1332.