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Mines takes home two first-place awards at Governor’s state business competition

Mines students and winners of the 2022 Governor’s Giant Vision Business Plan Competition Whytneigh Duffie and Maryam Amouamouha, pose with Joseph Wright, Associate Vice President for Research Affairs at Mines.

Students at South Dakota Mines in Rapid City are celebrating a pair of big wins. The school took home first place in two categories of a state business competition.

The Governor’s Giant Vision Business Competition is an opportunity for South Dakota residents to explore new business ideas and compete for the chance to earn 20-thousand dollars in prize money.

Maryam Amouamouha is a Ph.D. candidate in chemical and biological engineering at Mines. She won first place and the 20-thousand dollars with her business AMBER LLC. AMBER stands for Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor with Electrolytic Regeneration. Her technology purifies wastewater with a drop-in system that can replace septic tanks.

Amouamouha says she wants to make the world a better place by expanding options for clean drinking water in poorer countries. She says the competition was a great way to promote her technology and shed light on a problem.

“And to actually get even more attention to the problem that is real, it's there. And we know it's coming. It is the water shortage and water crisis. And we are trying to minimize that as much as we can.”

Amouamouha plans to reinvest the prize money back into AMBER.

“It's going to help us to do research and development because AMBER is trying to be even more advanced, we are trying to be more sustainable as much as we can, as much as it's possible for a system to be sustainable. So we are going to spend that on research and development”

While Amouamouha won the Business category, the Giant Vision competition also has a student category. Whytneigh Duffie is also a Ph.D. candidate in chemical and biological engineering at Mines. She took home first place and five thousand dollars with her company Disappex LLC. Disappex is a resin for 3D printers that dissolves in water. Duffie says the initial application is molds for manufacturing products.

The Giant Vision Competition is the largest of its kind in the state. Mines students or alumni have won honors at the competition for eight years in a row.