Extreme Engineering Talk Spotlights Greg Olsen, Entrepreneur-Astronaut

This Thursday, April 21, the School’s Extreme Engineering series welcomes Greg Olsen, the third-ever private citizen to orbit the Earth aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Olsen plans to discuss his remarkable journey from research scientist to entrepreneur to astral adventurer who circled the earth more than 150 times and logged nearly 4 million miles of weightless travel during almost 10 days in space.

The event will take place in Room 750 of the Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research (CEPSR), 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

A physicist, materials scientist, and electrical engineer by training, Olsen in 2005 blasted off on a self-funded expedition aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket and spent a week on the ISS with Russian and American colleagues. He completed some 900 hours of rigorous preparation over five months at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow beforehand. While in space, he conducted several experiments in remote sensing, one of his research specialties, and astronomy.

Olsen, who is currently president of GHO Ventures in Princeton, NJ, developed vapor phase epitaxial crystal growth of optoelectronic devices like laser diodes as a research scientist for RCA Labs. He holds 12 patents, is the author of more than 100 technical papers, and is cofounder of EPITAXX, a manufacturer of fiber-optic detectors, and Sensors Unlimited, a manufacturer of near-infrared cameras.

The Extreme Engineering program and video series kicked off in the fall and is being spearheaded by Dean Mary C. Boyce and former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, professer of professional practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Previous guest speakers have included NASA flight controller Allison Bollinger, ace pilot and former astronaut Scott “Scooter” Altman, and legendary submariner Capt. Alfred Scott McLaren.

For questions about the Greg Olsen talk, email seas-specialprojects@columbia.edu.

—by Jesse Adams

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