Entrepreneur and Space Traveler Gregory H. Olsen Donates $5 Million to Fairleigh Dickinson University
The School of Computer Sciences and Engineering Named for Two of Olsen’s Influential Professors
(Note: Photographs for download - URLs below) Teaneck, NJ (May 3, 2006) — Gregory H. Olsen, entrepreneur, space-traveler and Fairleigh Dickinson University alumnus, has made a $5 million donation to the University, the largest gift in the 63-year history of the institution.
In a dedication ceremony today, the University recognized Olsen’s gift and, at Olsen’s request, renamed the School of Computer Sciences and Engineering in honor of physics professors Lee Gildart and Oswald Haase, two Fairleigh Dickinson University professors who had extraordinary impact on Gregory Olsen.
University President J. Michael Adams said, “We are indebted to Greg for his generosity. And we also are indebted to professors Gildart and Haase and the hundreds of others like them who have worked so devotedly to serve our students. This gift is an important reminder that our efforts play a pivotal and inspirational role in the lives of our students.”
Greg Olsen, Ph.D., was the third private citizen to orbit the earth on the International Space Station (ISS). After completing training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow, he launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket TMA-7 on October 1, 2005, and returned to earth on Soyuz TMA-6 on October 11. During his 10-day voyage, he performed more than 150 orbits of the earth and logged almost four million miles of weightless travel.
After an illustrious career as a research scientist and entrepreneur, Greg is now president of GHO Ventures in Princeton, N.J., where he manages his “angel” investments, South African winery and Montana ranch. and performs numerous speaking engagements to encourage children—especially minorities and females—to consider careers in science and engineering.
Greg began his career in 1972 as a research scientist at RCA Laboratories in Princeton, N.J. At RCA, he developed numerous innovations in the field of optoelectronics, including the commercialization of indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) photodetectors and lasers.
In 1984, he co-founded EPITAXX Inc., a fiber-optic detector manufacturer. The company was sold in 1990 for $12 million. He then co-founded Sensors Unlimited, a near-infrared camera manufacturer in 1992. It was ultimately sold to Goodrich Corporation in 2005 for $60 million.
Greg holds 12 patents, has written more than 100 technical papers, co-authored several book chapters and has given numerous invited lectures to both technical and trade journal audiences. He is an IEEE LEOS Fellow and the first recipient of the prestigious IEEE Aron Kressel award.
Greg is active in many civic organizations including Trenton Big Brothers and Sisters, Trenton Boys and Girls Club, Trenton Soup Kitchen, Princeton Historical Society, Custer Battlefield Preservation Committee, Fairleigh Dickinson University and the University of Virginia.
Greg earned his bachelor’s degree in physics, a BSEE and master’s degree in physics magna cum laude from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Virginia.
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About Lee Gildart and Oswald Haase
Professor of Physics, 1965-1989
Professor Emeritus of Physics
Lee W. Gildart was born in 1910, in Albion, Michigan and attended public school in Lansing. While in school, he worked on printing his father’s newspaper - the Utica Sentinel.
At the University of Michigan, he earned a bachelor’s degree (1936) and a master’s degree (1938). He received his PhD in physics at Northwestern University in 1950.
In 1938, Lee worked for the Dow Chemical Company where he invented a sealable rock-salt cell for infrared samples. In 1942, he began teaching physics at the University of Michigan. During the war, he was given a 4F as a recruit, so in 1944 went to Pasadena and worked for Arnold Beckman at Beckman Instruments. In 1946, he was hired to teach physics at Northwestern University.
In 1950, moved to North Carolina and taught at North Carolina State University while living in Morrisville. In 1953, moved to New Jersey and worked for a company called Coit where he developed an electric thermometer called a thermister. He joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky in 1954 and in 1960, under a contract between the University of Kentucky and the Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia, he and his family moved to Java where he taught thermodynamics. On return to the U.S. in 1963-64, he took a sabbatical back at U of M where he developed the stibnite switch, an electric switch that was to take the place of transistors. It was never reliable.
In 1965, Lee was hired as a full professor at FDU, and ITT. gave him grants to continue working on the stibnite switch. After a brief stint as chairman of the physics department, he took a sabbatical in 1971-72 where he traveled around the country visiting numerous universities to look for innovative classes to increase the enrollment in physics programs. Upon return to FDU in 1972, created the Earth Physics classes which brought many new students into the physics department.
Lee retired in 1976 and moved to California where he continued to teach part time at Sacramento State College until 1979.
He married Marcella Markland in 1941, who died in 1989 just before their 48th anniversary. He has four daughters - Laura, Martha, Rebecca, and Sarah; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Besides his family, the thing that makes him most proud is to see the effects of his teaching. So many of his former students have gone on to do good things, and they still keep in touch with him —people like Marty Sablik, Constance Tse, Peter Schaffer, and of course Greg Olsen.
Professor of Physics, 1964-1989
After earning a Ph.D. in physics from Hamburg University (Germany) Haase did two years of post-doctoral work in basic research at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ. He joined Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1964 and taught, among other courses, solid state physics and engineering physics.
Haase said, “When Greg Olsen visited me in Berkeley last fall, he gave me his photo as an astronaut with a note ‘Thanks for getting me started.’ This refers to a subject I inherited from my thesis advisor in Hamburg, continued at Bell Labs and used in undergraduate and graduate research at Fairleigh Dickinson. The subject is the structure and perfection of crystals, and the arrangements of very thin (nano) layers on their surfaces (“Epitaxy”) which, for example, are important for sensors.”
Oswald Haase retired from the University in 1989. He likes to travel, spending several months a year in the small university town of Guanajuato in the Mexican altiplano, in Berkeley, California, in New York and in Hamburg, Germany. “It is fortunate,” he said, “that the ceremony happens during my originally planned time in New York City.”
Haase is deeply interested in art, especially the holdings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and in following the progress of molecular biology.
About the Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering
The Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering offers professional programs of great value to both national and international communities. The programs emphasize professional practices and address global issues, societal problems and their potential solutions. Consistent with the mission of Fairleigh Dickinson University, students are not only educated as highly qualified professionals but also as responsible global citizens working in an ever-changing global environment. Innovative curricula provide students with invaluable interdisciplinary perspectives, taking advantage of the resources, faculty expertise, and synergy that exist within the School.
The School offers five graduate programs, which include Master of Science degrees in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, electronic commerce, and management information systems. Moreover, the School offers nine undergraduate programs, which include Bachelor of Science degrees in information technology, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, civil engineering technology, construction engineering technology, electrical engineering technology, and mechanical engineering technology; and Bachelor of Arts degrees in mathematics. Various commissions of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology professionally accredit the undergraduate computer science, electrical engineering, and the four engineering technology programs.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s B.S. in Electrical Engineering program is ranked among the top 50 undergraduate programs at colleges whose highest degree is either a bachelor’s or a master’s by U.S. News & World Report, America’s Best Colleges, 2004 Edition. In addition, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering are among a few programs that have a long accreditation standing in New Jersey. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science programs have been accredited since 1960 and 1987, respectively.
The School prepares graduates for challenging careers in high-tech industries and for admission to selective graduate schools. Students have received accolades from various student competitions, including the ASME Student Design Competition, the IEEE Student Presentation Contest, the ASCE Concrete Canoe Design Contest, the MCA Competition, and the ACM Regional Collegiate Programming Contest. Graduates of the programs have gone on to become successful and prominent leaders in academia, industry, and business. They have assumed various leadership roles including university president, college dean, department chair, faculty, CEO, company president, company vice-president, manager, entrepreneur, project supervisor, engineer, computer professional, and space explorer.
Faculty members are actively involved in research, curriculum development, program outcome assessment, outreach programs, and professional association activities. The Journal of Management Information Systems and the International Journal of Electronic Commerce were founded and are edited by a distinguished faculty member in the School. These journals have been consistently ranked 3rd and 1st in their respective fields. Faculty members pride themselves in reaching out to local communities. The School has conducted a Technical Enrichment and Outreach Program for 30 high school students from neighboring communities, encouraging underrepresented minorities and financially disadvantaged students to study science and engineering.
The School’s programs and initiatives have received wide recognition and support from state and federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, and from industry, professional associations and private citizens. Donors include Gregory Olsen, Allied Signal (now Honeywell), the Toyota USA Foundation, Motorola, GE Equipment Services, Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), PSE&G, BAE Systems, the Muscarelle Foundation, the Building Contractors Association, the Mechanical Contractors Association, and the John V. Machuga Foundation.