Eric Olsen

Dr. Olsen recently served as Area Chair and Professor of Industrial and Packaging Technology in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Dr. Olsen teaches undergraduate and master’s courses in lean thinking, six sigma, and operations management. Dr. Olsen had over 20 years of industry experience in engineering and manufacturing management at Caterpillar, Litton, and Hewlett Packard before getting his PhD at The Ohio State University. His dissertation compared the financial performance of lean versus non-lean companies.

Dr. Olsen continues his professional development with a focus on creating new knowledge in operations management, biasing his research towards working with real companies and organizations. He has published, consulted, and trained in lean performance improvement, strategy deployment, and six sigma. He has run numerous improvement events at Cal Poly and in the local community.

Dr. Olsen is the Director for Central Coast Lean. CCL is a self-funded research project under the Orfalea College of Business. Its mission is to better understand how to build a community of lean practice. CCL promotes, runs, and studies improvement events, forums, workshops, and conferences. Dr. Olsen is also the creator and instructor for Cal Poly’s Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belt Certification Program. Dr. Olsen is active in professional organizations with memberships in APICS – The Association for Operations Management, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), and the Lean Educators Academic Network.



  • BS Forest Engineering — University of Maine at Orono
  • MBA — Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • MA/PhD Operations Management — The Ohio State University



  • Hewlett Packard: Production Manager – Wireless Semiconductor Division
  • Worldwide Manufacturing Education Manager: Components Group
  • Manager, Product Engineering: Optical Communication Division, Fiber Optic Manufacturing
  • Manufacturing Development Engineer: Optical Communication Division, Fiber Optic Manufacturing
  • Litton Poly Scientific: Manager – Fiber Optic Engineering, Senior Engineer – Slip Ring Products
  • Caterpillar Tractor Company: Test Engineer – Product Development Center


Contact Info:

  • Office: 03-308
  • Phone: (805) 756-1754
  • Email: