Balloons fall at commencement's end.

Steven Gagliano

Spring 2024 Commencement Speakers

Five ceremonies will celebrate 5,850 graduates — 2,640 bachelor’s, 3,010 master’s, and 200 doctoral — completing their degree programs at Georgia Tech May 2 – 4. Addressing the graduates will be Professor Baratunde Cola, Georgia Power CEO Kim Greene, entrepreneur Chris Klaus, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, and McKinsey & Company Managing Partner Tiffany Burns.  


Baratunde Cola


Baratunde Cola, Professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering 
Ph.D. Ceremony

Baratunde Cola is a professor in the Woodruff School and the founder and CEO of Carbice Corporation. Carbice originated at a Georgia Tech incubator space in 2011 and, under Cola's leadership, has become the world's largest vertically aligned carbon nanotube production center. Using recycled materials, the company creates products to prevent the overheating of electronics, with applications from smartphones to satellites, and improves the efficiency of semiconductor production.  

Cola joined the faculty in 2009. In 2017, he received the Alan T. Waterman Award — the nation's highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers — for his breakthrough creation of the optical rectenna, which turns light into direct current and could potentially double solar cell efficiency at 10% of the cost. He also co-founded the Academic and Research Leadership Network, comprising over 300 engineering researchers from underrepresented minority groups. 

Cola earned a bachelor’s and master's degree from Vanderbilt University, where he also played football, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University — each in mechanical engineering — before joining Intel Corporation as a test research and development engineer. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers. 

Kim Greene


Kim Greene, CEO, Georgia Power  

In 2023, Kim Greene was chosen to lead Southern Company’s largest subsidiary, Georgia Power. As chair, president, and CEO, Greene oversees the operations of the energy provider serving 2.7 million customers statewide.  

Throughout her 33-year career with Southern Company, Greene has held various positions spanning engineering, operations, finance, external affairs, asset management, and trading. Previously, Greene served as the chair, president, and CEO of Southern Company Gas. In 2022, she was honored by the Atlanta Business Chronicle among its “Most Admired CEOs,” and she received the Edison Electric Institute’s inaugural Thomas F. Farrell II Safety Leadership and Innovation Award. 

Greene is an advocate for STEM-related education and a board member of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited, Valero Energy Corporation, the Georgia Research Alliance, and the Rowen Foundation.  

After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s in engineering science and mechanics, Greene earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MBA from Samford University.  

Chris Klaus


Chris Klaus, Entrepreneur  

Nearly thirty years after he left Georgia Tech to lead Internet Security Systems, a startup that would eventually be taken public and acquired by IBM for $1.2 billion, Chris Klaus will return to the Institute to receive an honorary Ph.D. In 2000, his $15 million gift helped construct a home for the School of Computer Science and portions of the College of Engineering. The 414,000-square-foot Klaus Advanced Computing Building also now features six research centers and more than 20 labs.  

He continues to support the Institute through CREATE-X, a program that connects students with industry leaders and offers them guidance, support, and capital to launch startups. Klaus' latest entrepreneurial venture, Fusen World, is dedicated to student innovation. In 2018, he was inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia. 

Klaus serves on the state's Film, Video, and Music Advisory Commission and the boards of the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Georgia Game Developers Association, the Georgia Tech Foundation, and the College of Computing. 

Ed Bastian


Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines  

For his efforts to bolster the longstanding relationship between Delta Air Lines and Georgia Tech, CEO Ed Bastian will be awarded an honorary Ph.D. Along with employing hundreds of Georgia Tech alumni, Delta continues to provide support for faculty, students, and research across campus with significant investments in key areas, including the Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility, the Supply Chain and Logistics Institute in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business in the Scheller College of Business, and faculty research in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering.  

Since becoming CEO in 2016, Bastian has led Delta to become the world's most-awarded airline, and in 2018, he was recognized by Fortune as one of “The World's 50 Greatest Leaders.” Bastian's work in the Atlanta community earned him the Council for Quality Growth's Four Pillar Award in 2023, which is given each year to an outstanding Georgian who has demonstrated significant contributions to economic growth in the community and the state. He also serves on the Woodruff Arts Center board, is the corporate chair for the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta’s “Never Settle” campaign, and was a past chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Committee for Progress. 

Bastian graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor's degree in business administration. 

Tiffany Burns


Tiffany Burns, Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company 

As the managing partner for the Atlanta office of the global consulting firm, Tiffany Burns is a leader in McKinsey & Company’s global Consumer Practice. Working with apparel, consumer, and retail clients, she designs and implements strategies that improve efficiency from the supply chain to the store floors.  

Along with helping to create initiatives and efforts to improve racial equity within the firm and around the world, Burns helped shape McKinsey’s Next 1B program — a business accelerator program for Black founders to build billion-dollar businesses.  

She serves on the boards of the Woodruff Arts Center, Leadership Atlanta, and the Georgia Tech Athletic Association. She also co-founded the Rising Seniors Foundation. 

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, Burns earned a master’s degree in public policy, an MBA, and a J.D. from Harvard University.