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Designer of High-Performance Steel Honored

February 18, 2010 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University researcher Gregory B. Olson, considered one of the founders of computational materials design, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. The NAE, which elected 68 new members and nine foreign associates, acts as the federal government's chief advisory agency on engineering and technology issues.

Olson, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, was cited for his contributions to research, development, implementation and the teaching of science-based materials design.

He directs the Materials Technology Laboratory/Steel Research Group at McCormick. Olson developed a systematic science-based approach for designing alloys that takes the desired properties and calculates the optimum composition and processing route. Beyond materials design, his research interests include phase transformations, structure/property relationships and applications of high-resolution microanalysis.

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 steel for gears that was designed at Northwestern and licensed to the company. The company recently developed a stainless steel alloy for aircraft landing gears that replaces cadmium-plated steel, an environmental hazard.

Olson is a fellow of ASM International and the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society, part of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (TMS-AIME). Among his recent honors are the ASM Campbell Memorial Lectureship, the TMS-SMD Distinguished Scientist/Engineer Award and the Cambridge University Kelly Lectureship.
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