CCEE Hall of Fame

Jerry Olson

Outstanding expertise, leadership and impact in geotechnical engineering industry, significant contributions to education and research, and founder of a national top 500 engineering firm

Inducted 2021

Mr. Olson received his BS degree in Civil Engineering in 1956 at University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. He received his MS degree from Iowa State University in 1958. After graduation, Olson moved to Chicago and after a short time performing soil testing at the Corps of Engineers, he accepted a job offer.

He joined Soil Testing Services, one of the earliest Geotechnical Engineering firms. Olson started as a field engineer and then a project engineer. He moved to Cedar Rapids and started a new company, Soil Testing Services of Iowa. He was part owner and CEO. When the other owners were bought out, he changed the name to Terracon and was the first president, CEO, and chairman of the board. At this time the company became an employee-owned firm. Now Terracon is a nation-wide firm with offices in nearly every state. In 2021, Terracon ranked 24th on ENR’s list of the top 500 Engineering firms.

Olson has remained dedicated to supporting students and faculty at Iowa State. He and Terracon have made many donations, funding equipment and labs. The Olson Soil Mechanics Laboratory has made significant developments in geotechnical research at Iowa State. Olson has also created individual scholarships to help hundreds of individuals seeking their education in engineering directly.