Mike holds a photo of students crossing old main before the grade separation.
March marked 15 years with Texas A&M Facilities Services for civil/structural engineer Mikael “Mike” Olsen, PhD. In 2002, Mike was hired to be part of the Engineering and Design Services team for the Texas A&M Physical Plant; EDS is the department we know today as Engineering, Design and Construction Services (EDCS). Upon his arrival, Mike was tasked with working on “grade separation” (commonly referred to as underpass) projects at the following locations: F&B Rd., George Bush and Wellborn, and Old Main. Mike attended meetings with university administration regarding the grade separation concept and the process required to make it happen. Mike essentially designed the concept of the grade separation. The Old Main grade separation project was a particularly lengthy process as it involved the relocation of quite a few city and university utilities. The passageway officially opened in fall 2013 and has proven to be quite a success and a much safer route for vehicular traffic, pedestrians and bikers.
Mike has added much value to the university throughout his time in Facilities Services. Following Hurricane Ike in September 2008, Mike traveled with some co-workers to do damage assessment at TAMU Galveston. In 2009, Mike was a recipient of the prestigious President’s Meritorious Service Award.
Prior to joining Facilities Services, Mike worked at a Bryan architectural precast concrete company since 1987. Some of the projects he worked on while at that company included the Texas A&M Reed Arena construction drawings for precast concrete panels. Mike also participated in building designs in areas of Houston, Austin and Dallas. One of his favorite projects was the Outram’s Building, the computer science building at Rice University.
When he was in seventh grade, Mike remembers being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” His immediate response was that he wanted to become a civil engineer and from that time forward, he pursued that dream. A dream that took him across an entire ocean! You see, Mike was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital. He grew up next to the airport and remembers being entertained just watching airplanes fly over his house. Mike went to college in Copenhagen at Denmark’s Technical University, where he graduated with his master’s degree. Mike then made the big decision to move to the States to pursue his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1981, one year before earning his doctorate, Mike and his wife, Rebecca, decided to move to College Station where Mike took a job with A&M’s Civil Engineering Department. The couple intended to stay in Texas a few years and then move back to Illinois, but they decided to make the Bryan/College Station area their home. Mike ended up working in the Civil Engineering Department for seven years, where he taught construction materials science to undergraduate students and performed research for Texas Transportation Institute. Mike and his wife raised two sons in the BCS area.
About a year and a half ago, Mike’s wife passed away tragically. Not one to think of himself as creative, Mike was surprised when he started dabbling in poetry to help him with the grief. Mike keeps himself quite busy. He sings in his church’s choir and gospel quintet, does sacristy and also teaches a couple of Bible study classes. Every six weeks, Mike helps out with a program called Family Promise, which is a collaboration between several churches in the area. Families in need of shelter stay overnight at a local church for a week at a time. This past fall, Mike joined the Brazos Valley Chorale, a talented group of about 100 singers; Mike is one of the bass singers. The group performs quarterly within the Bryan/College Station community. Mike has 7 dogs, some of whom are his and some foster dogs as well. The canine clan definitely keeps him busy!
Congrats, Mike, on 15 years! SSC is fortunate to have you on the team, and we wish you many more successful years in your career here with us!