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Co-Founder of High-Tech Manufacturing Start-Up Named Entrepreneur of the Year

(l-r) Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Christian Widener, South Dakota Entrepreneur of the Year, at the 2018 South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development annual conference in Sioux Falls, SD.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Associate Professor Christian Widener, Ph.D., was awarded Entrepreneur of Year at the 2018 South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) annual conference in Sioux Falls, SD.

Widener is the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of VRC Metal Systems. The company was started in 2013, with the help of CEO and co-founder Robert Hrabe. VRC designs and manufactures cold spray equipment and advanced manufacturing systems.

"A nationally recognized expert in cold spray technology, Dr. Widener has more than 60 publications and multiple patents because of his research and development work in advanced materials processing technologies," said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. "VRC's successful strategy sets the precedent for all Giant Vision competitors, making Dr. Widener an ideal choice for Entrepreneur of the Year."

In addition to his associate professor duties at SD Mines, he is Director of the Arbegast Materials and Processing (AMP) Laboratory, a cutting-edge research facility for advanced metals processing, joining, cladding and other materials development applications. Widener has led the technology development for seven patent applications and co-authored more than 60 publications since joining SD Mines in 2010, covering topics in friction stir welding, cold spray, advanced manufacturing and nanomaterials.

"This is well-deserved recognition for Christian Widener. The South Dakota Entrepreneur of the Year award not only highlights his achievements as the co-founder of this successful high-tech company, it also showcases the vast potential for other start-up businesses that are spinning off from innovation fostered at the School of Mines," said SD Mines President Jim Rankin.

For more information contact:

VRC Metal Systems

525 University Loop, Suite 211

Rapid City, SD 57701

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

501 E. Saint Joseph St.

Rapid City, SD 57701-3995

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