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Greg Olson Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Greg Olson, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is cited for his contribution to research, development, implementation and teaching of science-based materials by design.

Olson is considered one of the founders of computational materials design. He developed a systematic science-based approach for designing alloys that takes the desired properties and calculates the optimum composition and processing route.

He directs the Materials Technology Laboratory/Steel Research Group at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and in 1997, he founded QuesTek Innovations LLC, a materials design company that was selected for Fortune magazine's list of the 25 breakthrough companies of 2005. QuesTek's first creation was a high-performance gear steel that was designed at Northwestern and licensed to the company. That steel has found an unusual market: Baja 1000 racing, where QuesTek's materials have led to better final drive gears for off-road racers, as demonstrated by the top five finishers of the 1600 class for the past several years. The company recently developed a stainless steel alloy for aircraft landing gears that replaces the cadmium-plated steel, which poses an environmental hazard.

Olson is a fellow of ASM and TMS-AIME, and he has authored more than 200 publications. He received a BS and MS in 1970 and ScD in 1974 in materials science from MIT and remained there in a series of senior research positions before joining the faculty of Northwestern in 1988. Beyond materials design, his research interests include phase transformations, structure/property relationships, and applications of high resolution microanalysis. Recent awards include the ASM Campbell Memorial Lectureship, the TMS-SMD Distinguished Scientist/Engineer Award, and the Cambridge University Kelly Lectureship.

In addition to Olson, McCormick alumnus Sang Yup Lee was elected to NAE as a foreign member. Lee, currently dean of the College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), received both his MS ('87) and PhD ('91) from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern. Lee was cited for leadership in bacterial biotechnology and metabolic engineering, including development of fermentation processes for biodegradable polymers and organic acids.