Award Honorees

Dr. Allan Sonseby

Dr. Allan Sonsteby ‘83 is dedicated to increasing the security of our nation through science, technology, mentorship and education. Through his work on research projects with the Navy, Air Force and NATO, as well as his pioneering efforts to enrich science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and training, Dr. Sonsteby has combined his passion for STEM with a firm commitment to the progress of the country.

The environment at MHS played a major role in fostering Sonsteby’s early interest in STEM and his decision to pursue a career in electrical engineering. “My experience at MHS was excellent preparation for college in a rigorous STEM field, and my transition to college was seamless,” said Sonsteby. “Minnetonka prepared me very well.”

Sonsteby worked in applied research as a practicing engineer before completing his PhD at Pennsylvania State, where he also had the unique opportunity to lead a project in the university’s Applied Research Laboratory. In 2001, he was asked to serve as the chief scientist for a part of the U.S. Navy that was developing cyber technologies.

Throughout his diverse and rewarding career, Sonsteby has held positions that have helped make strides in STEM development and strengthen national security, from serving as the chairperson for two successive NATO research and technology panels to being appointed by the White House to serve on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Sonsteby is also a founding trustee of the Intelligence and National Security Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the next generation workforce that will help secure the nation.

“Science, innovation and discovery have enabled the U.S. to maintain a global advantage. Investment in fundamental science and discovery is integral to economic growth and development as well as to national security,” shared Sonsteby. “My career, whether in the private sector, government or leading a large laboratory, has always been focused on ensuring our nation’s global advantage and security.”

Now, as the Executive Director of the Applied Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State, Sonsteby continues to perform research on critical issues. He leads a team of highly skilled scientists and engineers in this process, as well as a number of students.

He is especially proud of the laboratory’s S.O.A.R. (Student Opportunities in Applied Research) summer outreach program. Now in its 26th year, the program reaches out to minority-serving institutions and provides exceptional students with a 10-week intensive summer internship, where they have the opportunity to work alongside world-class scientists and engineers.

Sonsteby encourages current MHS students to pursue their passions, embrace new experiences, stay focused on their goals and take care of themselves and their loved ones.

His advice to new graduates? “Minnetonka High School has provided you with an excellent foundation, and now it is time to explore your interests and pursue what you love and build upon that foundation. Always listen for opportunity knocking. Continually build and maintain strong relationships throughout your life as you move forward. As I reflect on my time at Minnetonka High School 40 years ago, it does not seem that long ago. Treasure every moment. Life is a gift.”


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