Brian Olsen, a licensed civil engineer with a background in airport engineering, was appointed Sept. 1.
Olsen grew up in Rawlins, graduating from Rawlins High School before earning his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wyoming.
He joined WYDOT’s Bridge Program in 2002, leaving for a number of years to work as a stress engineer for the Boeing Company in Everett, Washington. He returned to WYDOT a decade ago, first as a bridge engineer. Following several years as an airport engineer, he was promoted to engineering and construction program manager for the department’s Aeronautics Division, which he now oversees in his new position.
His salary is $104,400 per year.
Olsen will continue to manage air service development in the state, working with the Air Service Enhancement Program, and distributing state and federal money to develop airports.
As the Air Service Improvement Council works to replace the bulk of ASEP in the coming months, Olsen said he would rely on the judgment of stakeholders and other state experts to guide the conversation about what is best for Wyoming’s regional airports.
“I have a passion for aviation in Wyoming,” he said. “ASEP has been a great success. We can be thankful to our Legislature that it had been innovative in recruiting and retaining air service in the state. What we are trying to do now with capacity purchase programs is continue to stabilize and improve air service in Wyoming.”
Olsen said he believes barriers to commercial air service here are nationwide industry concerns, including pilot shortages. To help combat this, the division will launch a multi-year aviation economic impact study.
“Aviation has a huge impact on the lives of people in Wyoming, and it is a tremendous benefit to the state,” he said. “We see about $1.4 billion worth of economic impact that comes out of aviation in the state. We want to continue to educate folks about the value of aviation.”
Details of Surdam’s resignation remain unclear after a records request submitted to WYDOT last week was denied – the resignation letter resides in her personnel file, officials said.
While she didn’t comment on her departure, Surdam wished Olsen the best.
“Brian is an amazing engineer and leader,” she said. “He will be a great asset to the Aeronautics Division.”
Surdam joined WYDOT in early 2017. She and her husband, Dan, own Stitches Acute Care and recently acquired The Array School in Cheyenne.