Cornell NanoScale Facility gets new director of operations

Ron Olson has joined the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF) as director of operations.

Olson has worked for more than 32 years in industrial fabrication operations, and process and device development. For the last 14 years, he held a variety of research and management roles at General Electric Global Research, most recently managing its SiC Technology Transfer Team at State University of New York Polytechnic Institute’s Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium. Prior to working at GE, Olson co-founded a startup company, Xanoptix, Inc., that specialized in creating next-generation optical connections.

Ron Olson

It was through Xanoptix that Olson first came to CNF, in 1999.

“I actually was a user,” Olson said. “Our startup was making devices in the nanofabrication facility here to help with our new product launch. That’s how I got to know the place. I was always really impressed with the staff, the tools and the capabilities.”

Olson succeeds Don Tennant ’73, who had served as director of operations since 2006.

“It’s great to follow in Don’s footsteps,” Olson said. “He laid a great foundation, and I would like to build upon that foundation and keep continuously improving. We want to keep Cornell at the forefront of nanotechnology.”

Since it opened in 1977, CNF has hosted scientists and engineers from academia and industry, enabling them to conduct micro- and nanoscale research with the most state-of-the-art technology and expertise.

“Our mission is to keep advancing science by working with Cornell, our users, the government and New York state,” Olson said. “We want to continue to have a strong relationship with the NSF-supported National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure as well, and that includes outreach. We hope to encourage kids to be the next engineers and scientists who win the Nobel Prize.”

In his new role, which he assumed in August, Olson oversees facility management and operations, and user research programs; he also handles academic and industrial relations.

Olson said he looks forward to helping the facility expand into new strategic directions, specifically heterointergration, 2D materials, biotechnology, quantum materials and devices, and artificial intelligence in the cleanroom.

“Ron brings his operational excellence and his good humor to the team at CNF,” said Christopher Ober, the Lester B. Knight Director of CNF. “We are delighted to have Ron join us and look forward to benefiting from his expertise as we continue to add new nanofabrication capabilities.”

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Gillian Smith