Biography of Robert G. Olsen

Editor’s Note: Recently the IEEE Media Department asked the EMC Newsletter Editors for background information on their respective careers. Upon reading that of our Technical Editor, Bob Olsen, your Editor-in-Chief wanted to share his extensive background with the readers of the EMC Newsletter. Professor Olsen is quite accomplished! As you will see, the EMC Newsletter greatly benefits from the capabilities of its Technical Editor!

Robert G. Olsen is Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture for Undergraduate Programs and Student Services and the Boeing Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA. He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946 and spent his early years living in several towns in Northern New Jersey. He received the BS degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1968 and the MS and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado in 1970 and 1974, respectively. For the latter two degrees, his area of specialization was electromagnetic theory.
Prior to joining the faculty at Washington State University, Prof. Olsen worked for Radio Station WOR in New York City and for Westinghouse Georesearch Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. He has been a member of the electrical engineering faculty at Washington State University since 1973. During that time he has been an NSF Faculty Fellow at GTE Laboratories in Waltham, Massachusetts, a visiting scientist at ABB Corporate Research in Västerås, Sweden and at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, California and a Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Denmark.
His research interests include electromagnetic interference from power lines, the electromagnetic environment of power lines, electromagnetic wave propagation, electromagnetic compatibility and electromagnetic scattering. More specifically, his work has involved such topics as electromagnetic propagation on wires above the earth, modeling of corona generated electromagnetic interference from high voltage transmission lines, design of optimized high voltage components, exposure assessment for humans in ELF electric and magnetic fields from power lines, shielding of ELF electric and magnetic fields, high and low frequency electromagnetic scattering from bodies of complex shape, design of antennas for mobile communication, EMC studies of optical fiber cables and RF Survey meters in the power line environment and development of instruments for measuring transmission line conductor sag. His work in these areas has resulted in approximately 75 publications in refereed journals and approximately 150 conference publications/presentations. He is also one of the authors of the recently revised AC Transmission Line Reference Book – 200 kV and Above which is published by EPRI. His work has been supported by the Boeing Defense and Space Group, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Navy and other agencies.
He has served as a consultant to numerous government agencies and private companies on the subject of electromagnetic fields and power systems. He served on a National Academy of Science committee to evaluate the U.S. Navy’s Extremely Low Frequency Communications System Ecological Monitoring Program. In addition, he served as an expert witness on exposure assessment in several legal cases involving power line electromagnetic fields and health effects. Finally, he has served for the past ten years as a member of EPRI’s Science Advisory Committee on electromagnetic fields. Another area in which he has done expert witnessing is on radar speed measurement.
He is a Fellow of the IEEE and presently serves as Technical Editor of the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society Newsletter, and as Co-Technical Program Chair of the 2005 Electromagnetic Compatibility Conference in Zurich, Switzerland. He is also the past United States National Committee representative to the International Council on Large Electrical Systems (CIGRE) Study Committee 36 (Electromagnetic Compatibility) and past chair of the IEEE Power Engineering Society AC Fields and Corona Effects Working Groups. In addition, he is past Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility and Radio Science.
Since 2003, he has served as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Student Services at Washington State University. In this position, he is responsible for a number of administrative matters including oversight of the accreditation process, recruitment and retention of students, community college visitation, management of the scholarship program and services to university and state committees. In addition to these activities, he has created an Engineering Entrepreneurship Internship program in cooperation with the College of Business that exposes engineering students to the realities of the business aspects of engineering and better prepares them to work in the changing global marketplace. Given the global nature of the economy, he has also worked to make it possible for engineering students to get general education credit for the study of foreign language. Finally, he has (with NSF support and in conjunction with the University of Washington and several community colleges) begun a major effort to recruit students into engineering who have not traditionally considered or entered the study of engineering.
He and his wife Marsha have found Pullman to be a great place to raise their three children. The only downside of life in this small rural town is the constant complaining about Pullman’s “rush minute” that occurs shortly after 5 PM on weekdays. In his spare time, he studies and gives talks on the history of railroads in Eastern Washington State and serves as an officer in his church. EMC

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