The gift from retiring Whelen president and UNH alumnus John Olson will help create the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center, which will focus on high-precision machining, light materials, and flexible electronics while serving as a home for academically derived technology incubators, next-generation manufacturing technologies, and as a pipeline of trained, skilled workers able to bring practical knowledge and experience to the state's manufacturing sector.
Olson graduated from UNH with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1957 and two years later began his career at Whelen, where he has served as president since 1976. Their latest gift builds on Whelen's and Olson's longtime support for NHU, which includes more than $2.5 million for scholarships as well as support for the university's Tech Camp, which targets kids in grades 6 through 12. In 2007, Whelen donated an outdoor mass-notification system to UNH's Durham campus to be used during emergencies.
"We are absolutely delighted with the opportunity that George Whelen IV and Whelen Engineering are affording our students, faculty, and the state," said Sam Mukasa, dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. "Manufacturers and various other engineering firms around the state speak of our engineering graduates as smart and well trained, and the Olson Center will give students the very important third piece of their education: practical experience. The center will also foster development of some research projects between faculty and colleagues in the private sector, thereby having an enormous positive impact on the state’s economy."