Home > Awards > Fuller Award > 2012 Fuller Award

John S. Olsson - 2012 Fuller Award


(Submitted by Tony Bilek)

Born in the summer of 1965 in Lincoln, Nebraska, 2012 Fuller Award recipient John S. Olsson was part of a close family that includes a brother and two sisters. His family has lived in Lincoln ever since and John has become an integral part of the Lincoln community. He left Lincoln to attend the Colorado School of Mines where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.

In 1988, he married his high school sweetheart and started a family. Early in his career, John worked on civil municipal and land development teams where he completed water, wastewater, recreational, municipal, residential, and commercial projects involving both public and private entities. In 1993, he earned his Master's of Science degree in civil engineering at UNL. He worked for a year or so at Williams Pipeline in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With a strong desire to be back in Nebraska and The Good Life, he took a job at an engineering firm in Lincoln in 1989.

In 2001, he was asked to lead the firm's civil municipal team. He soon took this team to new levels by winning significant water and wastewater projects, including many with the city of Lincoln. He became the Lincoln office leader in 2007 and soon after, added senior vice-president to his role. He currently leads all efforts on pursuing multi-discipline, multi-office projects for the city of Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and is responsible for office-level and firm-wide strategy, fostering local client relationships and assisting in building highly productive, efficient, and collaborative technical teams.

John became a member of AWWA in 1992, served on numerous committees, and was Nebraska Section chair in 2009. As an avid runner, he has competed in several marathons. He is a bit of a gentleman farmer as he owns land near Palmyra, Nebraska, where he has planted more than 750 trees. He has four children: Matt, a freshman at his father's alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines; Jack, a senior in high school; Kate, a seventh-grader; and Nick, a fifth-grader. He and his wife Jody live happily in Lincoln.

About the Fuller Award

(As delivered by Mari Matulka at the banquet in November 2011)

George Warren Fuller was born in Massachusetts in 1868 and graduated from MIT in 1890 at the age of 22. He worked for the Massachusetts Board of Health, developing methods to treat wastewater. In 1895, he moved to the Louisville Water Company to oversee filtration experiments for the utility.

His work opened a new era of water purification practices, demonstrating the ability of coagulation and rapid sand filtration to handle muddy and highly variable waters, and the importance of coagulation and sedimentation prior to filtration.

In 1899, he established an engineering consulting firm in New York. During his 34 years of practice, he advised more than 150 cities, commissions, and corporations on major water supply and sewer improvements. Those clients included Washington, DC; New Orleans; St. Louis; Kansas City; Indianapolis; Chicago; Minneapolis; Montreal, Quebec; and Shanghai, China. He was a consulting engineer to the US Public Health Service and the construction division of the US Army while serving in World War I.

His work in the water industry focused on the standardization of practices so that results from different laboratories could be compared. His work resulted in an 1897 report that evolved into the Standard Methods text used today. He was a dominant influence in the AWWA, serving as President, and died in 1934 at the age of 66.

The Fuller Award was established in 1937 and is presented every year to one person from each section for their distinguished service in the water-supply field, in commemoration of the sound engineering skill, the brilliant diplomatic talent, and constructive leadership that characterized Fuller's life.

This is the highest award given by the AWWA, and the Nebraska Section has 56 awardees. Tonight, we add #57.