GreenSource Fabrication partners with UNH Olson Center

WHEN a university that prioritizes research and sustainability partners with a company leading the field in green manufacturing, great things happen. And they happen at UNH's John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center.

“As part of our corporate engagement office, UNHInnovation works with external partners to find co-location, research and workforce development opportunities on campus,” said Marc Eichenberger, associate vice president and chief business development and innovation officer. “The companies benefit from, among other things, UNH’s infrastructure and access to student talent. Those partnerships often evolve into multifaceted success stories, like the Olson Center and GreenSource Fabrication.”

The Olson Center and GreenSource Fabrication are not a surprising match. The center was established with a generous gift from George Whelen IV and Whelen Engineering and named in honor of the company’s past president, John Olson, UNH class of 1957. GreenSource Fabrication was originally an in-house parts manufacturer for Whelen Engineering, before spinning off in 2017.

"John Olson’s vision was to integrate academics and industry and Whelen Engineering wanted to ensure that UNH students had access to cutting-edge manufacturing capabilities and a place where they could innovate and discover with hands-on learning,” said John Roth, director of the Olson Center. In partnering with GreenSource Fabrication, the Olson Center puts that vision into practice.

GreenSource Fabrication (GSF) is leading the field in "green" printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing. Unlike traditional PCB shops, zero hazardous byproducts leave the GSF facility. The plant operates in a closed-loop system and the same volume of water is recycled 10 to 12 times a day. The only water that is not reclaimed is roughly 500 liters a day, much of which is lost through evaporation. In 2022 alone, GSF recycled 222,095 pounds of material, from scrap circuits and panels to cardboard boxes.

"The industry has always been a dirty, environmentally risky, undesirable career path," said Jim Brown, GreenSource Fabrication’s strategic accounts manager. "Companies like GSF having a 'green' approach, coupled with a clean environment and state-of-the-art technology, has changed the perception of the PCB industry and inspired the next generation of young engineers to consider it a viable career path."

One such engineer is Maria Virga, UNH class of 2021. Virga is a process engineer leading GSF's co-location project at the Olson Center, but she's far from the only female engineer on the team. "Seventy-five percent of our engineering team is female," said Virga. "We have five females in key leadership roles, which is a little over half of the leadership." Virga, along with fellow UNH graduates like Cassandra MacKinnon (UNH '17), makes sure that message isn't lost on current UNH students.

Maria Virga, process engineer at GreenSource Fabrication, working with the new InduBond X-Press at UNH's Olson Center

Virga works with the InduBond X-Press, a new piece of GreenSource Fabrication equipment being installed at the Olson Center.

"Both Maria and Cassandra are very active with our students," said Stephanie Whitney, UNH Career and Professional Success (CaPS) director for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. "They come back regularly to engage with students and speak with organizations like the Society of Women Engineers. We have a longstanding relationship with GreenSource Fabrication and the alumni mentorship piece is another prong to that partnership.”

Back at the Olson Center, Virga is managing the installation of a new piece of equipment called the InduBond X-Press, the next phase of GSF’s cutting-edge manufacturing. The induction press will allow the company to develop a more efficient and environmentally conscious process for pressing the panels, or "the book," as Virga explains. "Old traditional presses are done with hot oil, which is inefficient and problematic as the heat dispersion can cook the outside before the inside catches up. This is true R&D and it's exciting to see this equipment come online."

In her role as project lead, Virga works on-site at the Olson Center several times a week, where she will guide a team of student interns to operate the equipment. In keeping with its culture of innovative problem-solving, GSF has mitigated their challenge of bringing interns out to Charlestown by co-locating on campus at the Olson Center. In doing so, they are strengthening the pipeline for UNH graduates seeking promising careers within the state. “Working for GreenSource Fabrication isn’t just a job,” said Virga. “This is a career. There’s a lot of opportunity for advancement and we’re just getting started.”

“I think a company like GreenSource is doing a lot to retain talent in our state,” said Whitney. “Within CaPS, we want to ensure that our students have the best opportunities, and we advocate for them taking the best job available. It just so happens that some of the best jobs are now in New Hampshire."
To learn more about corporate engagement opportunities at the University of New Hampshire, please contact Marc Eichenberger at