Edward Olson has always had the mind of an engineer.
When he was a child he loved playing with Legos, building with wood and creating forts out of the couch cushions.
At his church, he earned the distinction of being the only child to ever break out of the nursery, by watching the adults and learning to use the doorknob, his Grandma Evelyn Hauck said with a laugh.
“He has always had a logical mind,” she said. “He is very left-brained, he’s always wanted to figure stuff out.”
By middle school Edward, who also goes by Eddie, had decided he wanted to be an architect.
So when he had the opportunity to transition from Newark High School to the Architectural and Engineering Design (AED) program at the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County (C-TEC) for his junior year of high school — he jumped at the chance.
Now a senior, he balances his school work and class assignments with an internship at Applied Engineering Group in Blacklick.
“C-TEC has allowed him to bloom,” Evelyn said. “This is who he is. We’ve seen a lot of hope and promise.”
Throughout his life, Edward has been through several medical emergencies, while also struggling with sensory processing challenges.
Diagnosed with autism as a child, he began attending Flying Colors Public Preschool and receiving support from LCBDD Service Coordinator, Dorinda Burley.
His parents, Erik and Kristina, moved Edward and his twin sister Michelle to Iowa for several years, returning to Licking County when their kids were in fifth grade.
Edward soon showed his teachers at Wilson Middle School that he was advanced in math, curious about the physics behind sports and interested in maps and floor plans. He also taught himself geometry through learning karate.
His interest in architecture continued as he tried out drawing classes in high school and applied to C-TEC. Around that same time, his family reconnected with Dorinda and LCBDD.
When he began using the technology in the C-TEC AED lab — learning drafting, 3D modeling and 3D printing — he knew he was in the right place.
His family noticed that he was even more excited about school and keeping his grades up.
“He said to us, ‘I don’t want the motivation to be exterior, I want to be self motivated,’” Evelyn said. “He wanted to be self-driven.”
His AED instructor Matt Howe sees that motivation every day he’s in the classroom.
“Eddie has been great to work with the last two years. He is not afraid to take on any engineering challenges or problems,” he said. “He likes to fully understand the reason why, for many problems and loves to create and design.”
After spending his summer working at Auntie Anne’s at the Indian Mound Mall, Edward found out he would be starting his internship at Applied Engineering in September.
Now he rotates between a week of working — doing electrical work for commercial buildings — and then returns to the classroom for a week. He’s working on getting his drivers license and is hoping to use his own car to get back and forth.
By the end of the school year, he will be certified to work for the company full time. But Edward said his main goal is to attend college.
Working with his family, Dorinda and LCBDD Transition Specialist Shanay Nye, he’s considering several colleges and is thinking about continuing to work at Applied Engineering while taking classes.
Ultimately, Edward said his dream is to own his own company that specializes in architecture and construction.
His family is not only proud of his academic accomplishments, but also his heart for community service.
Edward loves helping out at his church and would go out of his way to help anyone in need.
He is not only compassionate, but resilient, Evelyn said.
“He just keeps overcoming obstacles,” she said.