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Award-Winning Inventor to Address Spring Hill College Class of 2023

(Mobile, Ala.) Mobile native Lonnie G. Johnson will address the graduating class of 2023 at Spring Hill College during the commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, at 9 a.m. The former NASA engineer and award-winning inventor is best known for creating the Super Soaker water gun. He is the founder and president of Johnson Research & Development Co., Inc. (JRD), a technology incubator, and two green energy companies, JTEC Energy, Inc. and  Johnson Energy Storage, Inc.

Johnson is a 2022 inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame and a 2011 inductee to the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. His Super Soaker water gun has generated several billion dollars in retail sales and remains a top-selling toy worldwide. Johnson has more than 140 patents, with over 20 more pending, and has authored several publications on spacecraft power systems.   


Born and raised in Mobile, Johnson attended Williamson High School. He holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, an M.S. degree in nuclear engineering, and an honorary Ph.D. in Science from Tuskegee University. He also has an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Indiana. A former U.S. Air Force Officer and NASA engineer, Johnson’s professional service includes leadership roles on some of our nation’s most advanced technology systems, including the Stealth (B2) Bomber, NASA’s Voyager Mission, the Galileo Mission to Jupiter, the Cassini Mission to Saturn and the Mars Observer project for which he received several awards, including Air Force Commendation and Achievement medals.  

His current mission is to invent paradigm-shift solutions for the world’s sustainable energy and environmental challenges. He serves on the Board of Directors for FIRST and the Hank Aaron “Chasing the Dream” Foundation, and he has served as a trustee to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He lives in Georgia with his wife and four children.

This year’s commencement ceremony holds a special significance for Spring Hill President Mary H. Van Brunt, PhD, who was inaugurated as the College’s 39th president in March. “As the class of 2023 is preparing for its final walk as students down the Avenue of the Oaks, this will be my first,” she said. “I am especially proud of the accomplishments of these graduates. They have worked hard and excelled inside and outside of the classroom.”  “I am confident that this next generation of leaders is prepared to transform our community through service.” 

Overflow and inside seating will be available in the Barter Student Center, where Commencement will stream live. The ceremony can also be viewed online at the SHC Commencement webpage, full schedule of commencement activities is available here. 


Founded in 1830, Spring Hill College is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast and the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States. Spring Hill combines the Jesuit tradition of excellence in education and a commitment to caring for the whole person – mind, body and spirit – with innovative educational experiences. Located in Mobile, Ala., Spring Hill's mission is to form leaders engaged in learning, faith, justice and service for life. As a result, Spring Hill students are engaged, inspired and transformed by their experiences.

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