Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, April 16, 2019

TwisTech Wins Inaugural Braun Student Inventor Award with Invention that Increases Fuel Efficiency

Mark Rotert and John Parker Chandler IV being presented the Braun Student Inventor Award by astronaut Winston Scott who was on hand for the award ceremony and Jan Puszynski, Ph.D. vice president of research at Mines.

A new invention now being tested by students and faculty at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology could increase the aerodynamic properties of vehicles and improve gas mileage.

Mark Rotert and John Parker Chandler IV won the inaugural Braun Student Inventor Award with their invention called TwisTech. The product is a vortex generator that reduces drag on cars and semis. In initial testing, the team found TwisTech can offer increases in fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent for cars and 7 percent for trucks.

The Ann and Dave Braun Student Inventor Award encourages students to develop creative skills and come up with inventions that could become patents. The award includes $5,000 and a free patent application from Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C.

“If TwisTech shows any continuing statistically significant improvement in fuel economy this will be a very important patent,” says Braun. “If the gains they have shown to date hold up in further tests then this is a huge breakthrough,” he adds.

Dave Braun completed his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at SD Mines in 1961 and a master’s in 1967. Braun went to work for 3M, a company known for pioneering cutting-edge technology and innovation. During his career he was part of multiple patents and ideas that are now used in the marketplace.

“When I was at Mines, I would come up with ideas and in some cases, there was little support for the kind of creative thinking that can lead to eventual innovation. Many professors wanted students to only focus on the rigorous engineering education,” says Braun.

By establishing this award, the Brauns hope to grow the culture of creative thinking, problem solving and support for innovation that exists at SD Mines today. The effort aims to foster new ideas that can become spin-off companies to fuel more economic growth centered around the university.

“When you have a very complex problem, where there is no straightforward answer, you have to learn to think differently, you need to study all the technical parameters around it, and then step back and give some time to allow your subconscious to work on it, and then you might have a eureka moment,” says Braun.

Rotert and Chandler also won the SD Mines CEO Business Plan Competition with their company “Tornado Aerodynamic Solutions, LLC”.  The business partners say their company’s aim is to improve fuel economy via aerodynamics on automobiles and trucks with a particular focus on agriculture.



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, Mike.Ray@sdsmt.edu

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