Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, December 10, 2019

SD Mines Celebrates its 180th Commencement with a List of Dignitaries

Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).


South Dakota School of Mines & Technology’s 2019 winter commencement includes a long list of luminaries. The university’s 180th commencement ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre. More information and a link for live stream video of the event can be found here.

Commencement Speaker

Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Droegemeier serves as President Donald Trump’s science advisor and leads OSTP in its coordination of science and technology initiatives across the federal government. Droegemeier’s background is in extreme weather, numerical weather prediction and data assimilation. Droegemeier earned a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., as well as a master’s degree and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Honorary Ph.D.

Dale Claude Lamphere, the South Dakota Artist Laureate, will receive an honorary doctor of public service. In his 47-year career Lamphere has created more than 60 public monumental sculptures from Washington, DC, to Burbank, Calif. One of his most recent works is titled “Dignity,” a 50-foot-tall, 12-ton stainless steel sculpture in Chamberlain. He also recently completed the Arc of Dreams over the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls. He has also had additional recent sculptures placed in Chicago, Kansas City, Colorado Springs, Omaha and Dallas.

Posthumous Bachelor of Science

Torger Henckel, a mining engineering student, passed away on Sept. 21, 2019 in the Black Hills while pursuing his passion of hiking and rock climbing. Henckel joined the Mining & Mucking Team in 2015, served as vice president in 2018-19, and was part of the team that won the co-ed/mixed division competition at the International Collegiate Mining Games held in Cornwall, England, in 2018. He grew up in Viroqua, and graduated in 2015 from Luther High School in Onalaska, Wis. Family and friends remember his strong faith, his love of skiing, hiking and rock climbing, and his amazing descriptions of rock formations. Henckel had accepted a job offer in Tucson, Ariz., as a mining engineer with Freeport McMoRan. He will receive a posthumous bachelor’s degree in mining engineering.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Tom Corcoran (CE ‘83)
Tom Corcoran began his professional career as a structural design engineer for education, governmental and public projects in Omaha, Neb. He has 36 years of structural engineering experience and is an advisor/mentor for the structural engineering group, including the new Seattle structural engineering lead, at Integrus Architecture where he also served as principal/partner since 2006. Corcoran’s professional projects span from the structural design of educational facilities, community libraries and commercial buildings, to correctional/detention facilities and police stations.

Connie Determan (CE ‘84)
Connie Determan has more than 30 years of experience in environmental engineering and management. Her career started with Woodward-Clyde Consultants in Colorado. She is currently vice president and environmental compliance officer at Kiewit Corporation in Omaha. She has been involved in a variety of environmental projects that include establishing new approaches for evaluating lead-contaminated soils at a national level and developing technical advisory committees with community groups, industry and government agencies.

Jackie Flowers (CE ‘92)
Jackie Flowers began her career as an engineer with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Pierre. In 2000, she was recruited to be utility director for Sheridan, Wyo., and shortly thereafter was promoted to public works director where she managed 13 city divisions, including utilities. In 2006, she was recruited to Idaho to lead Idaho Falls Power, a municipally-owned electric utility, as its first female general manager. She is currently the director/CEO of the Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) in the state of Washington. TPU is one of the largest public power utilities in the country, serving approximately 176,000 electric customers and 100,000 water customers.

Roger Musick (EE ‘71)             
Following graduation from SD Mines, Roger Musick joined Martin and Associates in his hometown of Mitchell. In 1974, he became an equal partner at Martin and Associates which designed the majority of the communications networks in South Dakota and Iowa. Musick started Innovative Systems in 1998 as a family partnership. The company has gradually grown from a staff of 10 to about 200. Musick has always been an advocate for living in South Dakota, and one of his goals has been to create good jobs for computer science and engineering graduates who want to stay in the state after they graduate. Today, Innovative Systems employs 47 graduates and interns from Mines.

Dr. Larry Schumaker (Math ‘61)
After graduating from Mines, Larry Schumaker attended graduate school at Stanford University where he earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics in 1962 and 1966, respectively.  He spent 22 years at University of Wisconsin, the University of Texas, and Texas A&M University as a professor and a researcher. Schumaker has served on a special committee of the South Dakota Board of Regents to develop EPSCOR funding for the state of South Dakota. Since 1988, he has been the Stevenson Professor of Mathematics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. During his distinguished career, he has been very active in his profession. 

Senior Class Representative

Caitlin Hone will receive her Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering with a minor in global engineering. Hone has been involved in various clubs and activities while at SD Mines, including serving on the Student Association Senate; participating in band and university choir; serving in leadership roles with Alpha Omega Epsilon; as president of Rotaract; and as a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Newman Club. She has worked for Bohannan Huston, Inc., in Albuquerque, NM; the American Society of Civil Engineers in Washington, DC; KLJ Engineering in Watford City, ND; the Office of the State Engineer in Albuquerque; Sen. John Thune’s office in Rapid City; and Amigos de las Americas in Madriz, Nicaragua. Following graduation, Hone has accepted a position with Bohannan Huston, Inc., in Albuquerque, NM. 


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, charles.ray@sdsmt.edu

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