By Nikki Ficken, AMRDEC Public AffairsJanuary 31, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Kathy Olson has worked at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for eight years. She is the additive manufacturing lead for the Manufacturing Science and Technology Division within the Engineering Directorate.
In this role, she interfaces with industry, academia and other government agencies to understand the current state and maturity of additive manufacturing. Part of her responsibility includes seeking collaborative opportunities and projects that can accelerate the implementation of additive manufacturing for Army aviation and missile systems.
Olson works with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute to provide additive manufacturing awareness training to the AMRDEC workforce so they are aware of the technology - its advantages and current limitations.
She is also part of the Manufacturing Technology aviation team.
"I work with the Program Offices and industry/academia to reduce manufacturing affordability and producibility risks to enable transition of critical technologies to aviation platforms," Olson said.
"Additive manufacturing can significantly increase Army readiness. It is a tool-less technology that enables rapid manufacturing and extreme cycle time reductions, small lot production and tailored solutions for the mission and warfighter, manufacture of DMSMS parts and the repair of previously unrepairable high value assets through dimensional restoration/machining."
Additive manufacturing enables a responsive and efficient supply chain, which is required as the Army moves toward expeditionary forces.
The long-term goal is to operationalize additive manufacturing to support forward deployed operational elements and production as close to the point of need as feasible.
"More effective and lethal weapon systems for the future force are enabled by geometrically complex, optimized and lighter weight designs that can only be accomplished using additive manufacturing." Olson continued,"We are working a couple of additive manufacturing projects in ManTech right now, involving both new build and repair processes, which will save acquisition cost and lead time."
When asked what she likes most about her job, Olson explained she enjoys the challenge and the people she works with.
"I get to interface regularly with subject matter experts from industry, academia and other government organizations across many different technologies, which provides tremendous opportunity for growth," Olson said.
"Additionally, in this and other positions across the AMRDEC, I have had the good fortune of working with exceptional individuals, both professionally and personally. At the risk of sounding corny, I have to say what inspires me to keep working is love of country and the opportunity to work in the area of its defense. I have a son who is commissioned in the Navy and a daughter who was offered and plans to accept a commission in the Army. Therefore, contributing to the fielding of systems that provide greater capability and protection to the warfighter is very personal to me."
While enlisted in the Air Force, Olson was accepted into the Airman's Education and Commissioning Program and completed a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona and a commission in the United States Air Force.
After 9 years of active duty, she left the Air Force to focus on family. Years later, she was accepted into the U.S. Army Materiel Command's Fellows Program, where she earned a master's degree in Business Administration from Texas A&M-Texarkana and entered into the Army civilian service.
Outside of work, Olson enjoys getting outdoors as much as possible. This usually involves working in the yard and hiking trails in Alabama with her husband. She also enjoys structured exercise classes, such as spin and weight training.
"I have been blessed with five wonderful children - three girls and two boys," Olson said. "Three are still in college - graduate and post graduate - and their lives are very busy. So, I prioritize any opportunity I get to spend time with them, catching up on what and how they are doing and continuing to provide 'motherly advice.' I am very much looking forward to sharing a trip to Ireland this summer with the girls."
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.