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USD student claims top prize at 2012 Giant Vision awards

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Thomas M. Renner, a University of South Dakota student, was the recipient of the first place prize of $5,000 for his invention at the 2012 Governor’s Giant Vision Business and Student Competition.

Renner of Hibbing, Minn. received top honors for “Remote Grain Moisture Sensor,” a remote sensor device that can read moisture levels and the temperature of stored grain. According to Renner’s product description, sensors, placed in an empty grain bin prior to filling, would measure moisture levels and grain temperatures. Farmers would be able to access this information using wireless technology. USD student Joel DeJongh from Rock Rapids, Iowa was the recipient of the third place in the student division garnering a prize of $2,500 for DeJongh Manufacturing.

The Small Business Development Center, managed by USD’s Beacom School of Business, assisted six of the top seven contestants in the 2012 business contest (non-student division). Both the student and non-student divisions were sponsored by the State Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

“Our record of assisting entrepreneurs to success in the Giant Vision contest is a great testimonial to the quality of work done by Small Business Development Center counselors across the state and our entrepreneur program on campus,” noted Michael J. Keller, dean of the Beacom School of Business. “The SBDC has been managed by the Beacom School of Business for 25 years and is an outstanding aid to South Dakota businesses. Not only did USD deliver multiple winners in the student division we helped, through the SBDC offices, most of the winning competitors in the non-student division.”

Hosted by the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry, winners of the 2012 business competition and student business competition were announced during the GOED Conference banquet in Sioux Falls on April 10. Gov. Dennis Daugaard presented the top prizes in both competitions. The Governor’s Giant Vision Business Awards and Governor’s Giant Vision Student Awards, held annually in April, were established to help citizens realize that South Dakota is a great 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.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News