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Ann Wilson, Iowa State University Foundation, (515) 294-9608
Pam Reinig, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-0261
Annette Hacker, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University has dedicated a new soil mechanics laboratory for its civil, construction and environmental engineering department in the Town Engineering Building on the northwest side of campus.

The 1,000 square-foot Gerald and Audrey Olson Soil Mechanics Laboratory provides new, state-of-the-art equipment for students to research soil properties for construction purposes. It will be used primarily for graduate student teaching and research.

The Olson Soil Mechanics Laboratory at ISU was founded in 2002. The Olsons' gift of $175,000 was made through the Iowa State University Foundation to benefit the College of Engineering at Iowa State University.

The new Olson Soil Mechanics Laboratory is a significant development in geotechnical engineering research at Iowa State, which was initiated by Anson Marston (the College of Engineering's first dean) and has been ongoing since 1906. Since then, ISU's geotechnical and materials engineers have discovered ways to improve the design of retaining walls, create longer-lasting pavements by stabilizing the earth beneath them, and ensure better support for buildings by efficiently measuring the properties of the ground that supports them.

Gerald and Audrey Olson were recognized at the Sept. 5 lab dedication by Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy, College of Engineering Dean James Melsa, and Department Chair Lowell Greimann.

"My time at Iowa State was a major factor in my success, and I wanted to give something back," said Gerald Olson, the retired founder, president and CEO of Terracon, one of the largest geotechnical firms in the U.S.

Gerald Olson received his master's degree in civil engineering from Iowa State in 1958. He has a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering (1956) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Audrey Olson received a bachelor of arts degree in social work from Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, in 1976. The Olsons live in Rio Verde, Ariz.


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