Missouri S&T commencement speakers announced

Posted by
On December 7, 2023

Spring 2023 commencement

Scene from a commencement ceremony at Missouri S&T on May 13, 2023. Photo by Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T

Nearly 700 Missouri S&T students will be awarded degrees during three upcoming commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16. Both commencement speakers are alumni of the university. Dr. Frederick K. Baganoff, research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will speak at the Dec. 15 ceremony for Ph.D. graduates. Thomas Sonderman, CEO and director of Skywater, will speak at both Dec. 16 ceremonies.

All three ceremonies will be held at the Gale Bullman Building, 10th Street and Bishop Avenue in Rolla. The first ceremony, for Ph.D. graduates, will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. The other two ceremonies, for bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients, will begin at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Saturday’s ceremonies are divided by discipline.

Each event will be livestreamed via Missouri S&T’s Facebook page and on Zoom for those guests needing closed captioning. For more details about commencement ceremonies, please visit registrar.mst.edu/commencement.

Speaker bios

Dr. Frederick K. Baganoff of Arlington, Massachusetts, is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and a 2020 recipient of Missouri S&T’s Alumni Achievement Award.

Frederick Baganoff
Dr. Frederick Baganoff

He received scholarships to attend S&T from the University of Missouri Curators and the Miner Alumni Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics with magna cum laude honors from S&T in 1985. He then earned a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995.

Throughout his career at MIT, Baganoff has led a group of astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR Observatory to survey the central region of our Milky Way galaxy, discovering thousands of white dwarf stars, neutron stars and black holes. 

Baganoff is a co-recipient of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics given to the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration for obtaining the first image of the event horizon of a black hole (Messier 87). He has also received two NASA Group Achievement Awards for his work with these two astrophysics missions, which are currently in orbit.

Thomas Sonderman of Apple Valley, Minnesota, was appointed lead executive of SkyWater, a semiconductor manufacturer, and elected to the board of directors in 2017. As CEO, he oversees efforts to maximize shareholder value through collaborating with customers, partners and other external stakeholders to drive the company’s long-term vision for the future. He has been instrumental in leading the company’s successful business transformation and he led SkyWater’s initial public offering in April 2021.

Thomas Sonderman
Thomas Sonderman

Sonderman has effectively diversified SkyWater’s customer base. He has leveraged SkyWater as a U.S.-based semiconductor foundry to expand the company’s government business and to reinstate a strong commercial manufacturing presence in the U.S.

Prior to joining SkyWater, Sonderman’s extensive industry experience included all aspects of fab operations and delivering market leadership and increased shareholder value to high-technology industry leaders Rudolph Technologies, GLOBALFOUNDRIES and AMD.

A widely recognized subject matter expert, Sonderman holds 50 patents and is a highly sought-after industry speaker. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Missouri S&T in 1986 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from National Technological University in 1991.

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