Mines News

Release Date Thursday, April 14, 2016

SD Mines Start-up Wins Governor’s Giant Vision Student Competition

RAPID CITY, S.D. (April 14, 2016) – Student entrepreneurs from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology took first place in the Governor’s Giant Vision competition for technology they are developing to extract commercially valuable essential oils through a super-critical carbon dioxide process.

Student Competition winners Aaron Worlie and Erica Howie showcase their company Botanical Extraction Technology.

Two other student start-ups from South Dakota Mines took third place and fourth place in the prestigious statewide business plan competition held Wednesday in Sioux Falls.

“Increasing numbers of Mines students are developing technologies and the business plans to get them to the marketplace,” said Heather Wilson, President of SD Mines.  “The Black Hills Angels and our successful entrepreneurs-in-residence program have been a real help getting our students interested and prepared for entrepreneurship.” 

In all, SD Mines students had five start-ups out of 11 chosen to present as finalists in the student competition, bringing home a total of $10,000 to continue funding their entrepreneurial efforts.

Additionally, a recently launched Mines start-up Endlas, LLC, won second place, among nine finalists, in the business competition, and was awarded a $10,000 prize. The awards were presented as part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development banquet with Governor Daugaard presenting the top prizes.

Over the last four years, Mines’ start-ups have won a total of $75,000, first place in the business competition three times, and first place in the student competition twice.

The 2016 SD Mines teams awarded are:

Business Competition

  • ​​2nd place and $10,000 cash prize – Endlas LLC, Joshua Hammell, mechanical engineering, Evansville, Wyo., James Tomich, materials engineering and science, Farson, Wyo., and Brett Trotter, mechanical engineering, Rapid City, S.D., all graduate students (laser cladding /strengthening) Hammell is working on his Ph.D. All work in the Arbegast and Materials Processing and Joining Laboratory on campus.
Student Competition
  • 1st place and $5,000 cash prize – Botanical Extraction Technology, Aaron Worlie, chemical engineering, Conde, S.D., and Erica Howie, industrial engineering and engineering management, Rapid City, S.D., all undergraduate students (supercritical CO2 extraction systems)
  • 3rd place and $3,000 cash prize – Borglum Natural Gas Storage Solutions, Scyller Borglum, geology, Rapid City, S.D., a Ph.D. candidate, (natural gas storage)
  • 4th place and $2,000 cash prize – RackStar, Jace Doan, mechanical engineering, Renner, S.D., undergraduate student (protective transportation products for cycling)

Two other SD Mines finalist teams were:

  • Bowtaps, Johnathan Ackerman, Rapid City, S.D., Daniel Andrus, Spearfish, S.D., Charles Bonn, Rosemount, Minn., Evan Hammer, Rapid City, S.D., and Joseph Mowry, Rapid City, S.D., undergraduate computer science students, (mobile app with features to track friends/fellow users at events and provide businesses a platform to showcase their venue)
  • Hoffman Enterprises, Ian Hoffman, computer science, Valentine, Neb., an undergraduate (robotics in educational curriculum)

The Governor’s Giant Vision Business and Student Competition were established to help citizens realize that South Dakota is the best place to start a successful business. The program was designed as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to compete for seed money and a chance to achieve their dream.


About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,778 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 96 percent, with an average starting salary of $62,929. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on Facebook and Twitter.