Meet David Olson

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NDVS/SB Director of Technology
Not Your Stereotypical IT Guy

David stands in front of a group of Christmas trees with his wife and their young son and daughter. They are all wearing dress clothes and smiles.IT guys get a bad rap. They are stereotypically socially awkward, unhelpful, and smug. Fortunately, the IT guy at NDVS/SB is the exact opposite of the stereotype. Director of Technology David Olson is known for being helpful to anyone who walks through his door or calls him, usually frantically, with a technology emergency. By patiently listening and then solving the problem, he is making technology less intimidating and more accessible, something that attracted him to NDVS/SB in the first place. “At a previous job, I was able to help a professor with low vision,” David explains. “I was very inspired by him, and I was able to help him through a few items. He was a joy to work with.” When David saw the posting for NDVS/SB Director of Technology a few years ago, he thought it “was a great opportunity to help others.” And that’s just what he’s been doing since May of 2018 – helping others, whether that’s his colleagues, or the students, families, and adults we serve at NDVS/SB.

What is your educational background?
I obtained my AAS degrees in Electronics and Computer Networking from Northland Community and Technical College. Later I went back to college and completed a bachelor's degree in Operations Management at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

What is your role at NDVS/SB?
I am the Director of Technology. I strive to meet the needs of current operations and find new technologies to propel us forward with data operations. Within our agency, I help in various groups and departments to assist in a little of everything. I have a wide technology background, from data analytics to building computers from components.

Why did you decide to go into the field of technology?
It's exciting! I tend to find something new or different ways to accomplish goals and resolve problems. I am excited by how far technology has come in the past ten years. There is a wide range of technologies available, from CCTVs that were designed to enlarge words on a paper to mobile devices that weigh less than a can of soda. Technology is something I love to do.

Every day there is something new and challenging. I can assist a teacher across the state that is working with a student or an adult who just walked into the building that has an advanced technology problem. I find the day constantly evolving, and I love that.

How do you stay current with new tech, specifically assistive tech?
I try to keep a pulse on news from many sources. YouTube is such a great tool for picking up on trending topics or learning something new. I find myself fixing something with the help of people that post to YouTube.

What’s your favorite assistive tech product?
Mobile devices because they offer so many additional apps that can really extend the capability for a person. Cell phones are so engrained into our lives now, and the exciting part is that they are only going to get better with time.

Is there anything you think people would be surprised to learn about NDVS/SB? 
Not sure how many people have heard of the Wayback Machine. It is an amazing tool to look at websites from the past. I found that our website for the School for the Blind was first captured on February 13, 2003. The website was very simple but was the beginnings of what our website is today.

You can find it here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20030213074251/http://www.ndvisionservices…  

Tell us about your life outside of work.
My wife, Angie, and I have been married for 16 years and have a daughter and son.  We go camping and fishing in the summer.  Lately, I have been learning to laser engrave on a few personal projects that has been fun to create out of custom slate and wood items. 

Do you have any advice for people who may be intimidated by technology?
Many people don’t try new things that can really level up their technology skills because they’re afraid to stumble. Take that first step and believe in yourself! Don't be afraid to touch a screen, click a few keys or buttons, or search YouTube – you can learn something new and helpful! North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind also has a great lineup of Golden Guides that are a great resource for anyone that is striving to tackle new skills. Check them out on our website or YouTube!

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