Ronald C. Olson
Ronald Olson was born in Sioux Falls, S.D., and raised in Everett, Wash. In 1958, he earned a bachelor's in electrical engineering from the University of Idaho. Olson attended the Defense Systems Management College located at Fort Belvoir, Va., chartered to provide executive-level international program management courses to defense contractors’ workforce across the globe. He also earned a certificate from the Senior Executive Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Olson began his career at the Boeing Company working as a program engineer on the BOMARC and HIBEX (High G Booster Experiment) missile programs. He subsequently held several positions on the Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM) program which included guidance and control design, missile design, carrier aircraft equipment design and senior engineering management.
Olson became the division’s chief engineer following a number of assignments in the business development arena. In 1985, Olson became a program manager and for many years provided leadership to the Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Mobile Basing program, the P-3 Update IV Anti-submarine Warfare program, and the FD-15 Air Launched Anti-satellite (ASAT) program.
Olson then became the Missile Systems program manager, Boeing Defense & Space Group, Missiles & Space Division, where he led the development and manufacture of strategic and tactical missile systems. Under Olson’s purview were such strategic programs as the Minuteman missile, the Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) and its variants, Boeing’s highly successful AVENGER air defense system, the U.S. Army’s Airborne Surveillance Testbed, and developmental efforts like the Enhanced Fiber Optic Guided Missile (EFOG-M) weapon system.
In 1998, Olson became president of Sea Launch Co., LDC, a Boeing-led multi-national corporation, which was developing a sea-based commercial satellite launching service. In this role Olson oversaw the activities of the Sea Launch Co. partners in a unique commercial launching service that was contracted to place satellites in orbit in the summer of 1998. The international industrial partners, comprising three major aerospace companies and Europe’s largest ship builder, were Boeing (U.S.), Kvaerner a.s. (Norway), RSC Energia (Russia) and NPO-Yuzhnoye (Ukraine). The Sea Launch partners established a U.S. home port for their unique new operation, which launched satellites from a sea-based pad operating in international waters in the Pacific. Boeing had overall responsibility for development of the Sea Launch system and operation of its business.
The College of Engineering is thankful to Ron Olson who is currently the chairman of the $2 million John C. Wahl Think Tank Campaign to raise funds for the student services project. Olson has a distinguished history of volunteer leadership at the college. He was instrumental in the 1990’s Engineering Physics Building campaign, served many years on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and as many times as an EXPO judge. Olson received the Alumni Hall of Fame Award as well as the Outstanding Alumni Award from U of I.
Ron and Barbara Olson, his wife, currently reside in Seattle. They have a daughter Jodi, son Bradley and daughter-in-law Tracey DiRameo, and two grandsons Collin and Duncan.