Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Two Mines Student Inventions Win Annual Braun Award with Free Patent Application and $5,000

Sam Ryckman is the graduate division winner of the 2023 Ann and Dave Braun Student Inventor Award at South Dakota Mines.

Two South Dakota Mines students are winners of the 2023 Braun Student Inventor Award. Kathy Mathieu, a mechanical engineering major, and her senior design team won an award for an invention that recycles PLA type plastic into 3D printable material. Sam Ryckman, a graduate student in computer science and engineering, won the graduate award for a differential belt speed reducer that has many applications, including robotics.

The Ann and Dave Braun Student Inventor Award includes $5,000 in cash and a free patent application from McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC or Goodhue, Coleman, & Owens, P.C. This award was established to recognize a South Dakota Mines student who has made a significant discovery or invention while enrolled at the university.

Ryckman’s invention is a very high reduction gearbox that can fit in an extremely small footprint. By mounting an electric motor inside a gearbox, he solved several problems associated with more conventional gearboxes. His differential belt speed reducer invention can support a wide range of applications from robotics to multiple forms of automation. 

“When compared to cycloidal or harmonic gearboxes which are typically used in low-space high-torque applications, this design provides a combination of high reduction and compactness that standard variations of these options do not provide,” Ryckman says.

Kathy Mathieu 2023Mathieu along with a mechanical engineering senior design team of students won the undergraduate award for an invention that improves the recycling of plastic used in 3D printers. The system includes a grinder to shred plastic for melting in an extruder and a spooling system that allows extruded plastic thread to cool before being wound on a spool for later printing. Other students on the team include Andy Perez, Kelvin Su, Blake Hyla, Taylor Kirkvold and Macauley Haag.

The Braun Inventor Award judges’ panel made note of the exceptional quality of this year’s submissions from all entrants. Many of the entries that did not make the top two places for the Braun Award were represented at the annual CEO Business Competition. Some will represent Mines at the upcoming South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision Awards later this month.


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