Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Nanotechnology Company Wins 1st Place in Mines CEO Business Competition

Kim Yip Chiok is the 1st place winner in Mines CEO Business Plan Competition for his business, Solar Nanotech.

The eighth annual CEO Business Plan Competition at South Dakota Mines was held on Saturday with first place and the $4,000 grand prize going to Kim Yip Chiok for his business Solar Nanotech.

The CEO Business Plan Competition challenges entrepreneurs to present their business idea an expert panel of judges. The event is the longest running university sponsored business competition in the state. It’s open to high school students and higher education institutions across Western South Dakota who compete for over 12-thousand dollars in prizes each year.

Chiok is a graduate student in the Department of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.  He, his collaborators and advisors, Dr. Aravind Baride, Dr. Stanley May and Dr. Steve Smith, head of the nanoscience and engineering department at Mines, came up with a new type of nanotechnology-enabled film that increases the sunlight absorption of solar panels and boosts the efficiency of solar cells substantially.

This technology could revolutionize solar energy production – making it much more efficient and economical. The global social energy market is projected to reach $200 billion by 2026, and the industry is constantly looking for new ways to increase efficiency.

Chiok has tested the new technology in the lab, and this first-place award enables him to do further testing and prototype construction. He plans to enter the Governor’s Giant Vision Competition this spring. Mines students have taken home top honors and several thousand dollars in prize money for the last seven years in a row.

Other winners are:

Second place and a $3,000 prize – Philip Litecky for the business Li-Tech Lures, which produces fishing lures engineered to target panfish. Litecky is student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Mines.

Third place was a tie with each winning entry taking home a $2,000 prize: the team of Barrett Keith, a business management and technology major, and electrical engineering student Mason Wortman with their business Rapid Power Boxes, LLC., which makes portable batteries for outdoor applications; and Whytneigh Duffie and her company SPLAD Chemical, LLC, which makes 3D printer resin that can be used in the injection molding process for manufacturing in a wide range of industries. Duffie is a Ph.D. student in the Karen M. Swindler Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Mines.

Best Agricultural Plan and $1,000 prize went to Joey Chamberland, an electrical engineering major, for his business­ Septic Scanner. The company sells a sensor that can let property owners know the levels inside a septic tank to prevent spills.

2021 CEO Comp everyone “This year’s field of candidates is exceptionally strong,” says Associate Vice President for Research-Economic Development at Mines Joseph Wright. “Any one of our competitors this year, even those who did not place, has the chance to go on and do very well in state and national competitions. I’m very excited for their future.”

The competition is open to all West River high schools as well as neighboring higher education institutions Black Hills State University, Western Dakota Tech, National American University, Chadron State College, Oglala Lakota College and Sinte Gleska University. Participants in the South Dakota Mines CEO Program get business plan training throughout the semester and receive assistance from the Small Business Development Center in preparing financial statements as well as mentoring from local business leaders and South Dakota Mines’ Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.

CEO Competition sponsors include Ascent Innovation, Big D Oil, Black Hills Energy, Darren Haar, Golden West Technology and Internet Solutions, Sioux Steel Company, South Dakota EPSCoR, South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development, South Dakota Mines Office of the President and West River Electric Association.

The university also extends its thanks to year’s volunteer panel of judges: Brian Rupert, 2020 Spirit of Innovation Award Winner; Mike Pogany, Black Hills Energy; Bob Case, Black Hills Energy; Robert Raker, West River Electric; Nina Braun, Ketel Thorstenson; Zach Policky, Big D Oil Company; and Jim Haar, Golden West Telecommunications.



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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