Robb Eric Olsen

Olsen

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Engineering Graduate and Professional Programs

I am an innovation scientist and engineer with a broad and deep background in rigorous, human(ity)-centered design & innovation across industry and academia, with a passion for building new innovation curriculum, capability and ecosystems at the academic/industry/government/NGO intersection.

At Duke I am helping craft the design & innovation strategy for Pratt, working with Dean Jerry Lynch, and creating new capstone/graduate course offerings in innovation, starting with eLuminate Studio (Special Topics in Engineering, 590-01), with Associate Dean Linda Franzoni and several major industry partners. 

Background

I worked in and eventually led Procter & Gamble's ground-breaking Products Research discipline (founded in 1923, 1500 scientists and engineers around the world), mining the globe for the best, most effective design & innovation science, frameworks and methods, testing these in the crucible of global markets, and integrating the results into new innovation paradigms.

As founder and leader of P&G's University Accelerated Innovation program, I worked with and taught at several leading universities, including Northwestern, where I was the first Industry Innovator in Residence at the Segal Design Institute, and University of Michigan, working with their Design Science program. The CPG Product & Business Innovation Studio program I created at Northwestern is still in operation in partnership with P&G.

I also created and led P&G's successful Behavioral Science for Innovation initiative, crafting P&G's first broadly scaled behaviorally-based research protocols, while funding and co-leading new behavioral science research with partners at University of Michigan Bio-social Methods Collaborative and NTU Singapore DEON Lab.

In my 35 years at Procter & Gamble I helped build some of the world’s largest and most iconic brands, and also some of the smallest. I led global communities of thousands and teams of a few visionary individuals. I created and launched many successful product initiatives, & crafted numerous patented product designs (47 granted patents globally). I regularly sought out non-traditional leadership roles as these were where I could make the greatest difference, learn the most, and keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

I retired from P&G in December, 2017.

I created TransOrbital Dynamics, a collaborative innovation consultancy, in 2019, to help scale innovation knowledge and expertise.  I’ve helped client partners discover new product platforms, strengthened organization design for innovation, and built new partnerships between industry, academia the military.  TransOrbital Dynamics has many successful offerings, for example, the AIM HI Certified Professional Innovator course (USAF/ANG) and VentoriumTM (industry, academia) Hybrid StartupTM innovation programs create fundable transformative and disruptive propositions on fast cycles, while creating new innovation talent ready to take on the next big challenge.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Adjunct Associate Professor in the Engineering Graduate and Professional Programs

Contact Information

Education

  • M.S. Procter and Gamble, 1988
  • B.S. The University of Toledo, 1982

Courses Taught

  • EGR 590: Special Topics in Engineering
  • EGRMGMT 590: Advanced Topics in Engineering Management
  • EGRMGMT 591: Special Readings in Engineering Management

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