April 22, 2016

White Bear Lake, MN – Six Century College students were awarded scholarships in the annual Century College Muskie Tank Challenge. Mitchell LeGrand of Vadnais Heights was awarded the grand prize scholarship, a $5,000 value. Five other students received $1,000 scholarships, including Adam Hook of Maplewood, Derek Loe of Stillwater, Jack Laven of Saint Paul, Rosalie Kamrow of Saint Paul, and Tou Lee of North Saint Paul.

Inspired by the hit ABC TV show, “Shark Tank,” the Muskie Tank Challenge fosters innovation and entrepreneurship among students connecting them with mentors and community leaders. The Challenge took place over a five-month period, and involved the development of project proposals, business plans and presentations to industry entrepreneurs and experts.

Mitchell LeGrand’s winning idea will launch a non-profit called Soundconnections, linking musicians with non-profit organizations. A musician himself, LeGrand sees a need to provide connections and resources for both artists and non-profits looking for musical talent, especially those who lack the funds to use full service talent agencies or artist reps. Graduating this spring with an Associate’s Degree and certificates in communications and global studies, LeGrand plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities to complete a degree in global studies.

“I’ve had this idea for a long time, but I didn’t have the marketing or business knowledge to make it a reality,” says LeGrand. “Muskie Tank taught me so much and to know that someone thinks my idea is good enough to invest in me is amazing.”

The other finalists’ projects are equally as impressive. Adam Hook developed a renewable energy product. Derek Loe invented device to track and offset carbon footprints. Tou Lee developed a multi-purpose travel backpack. Jack Laven invented a shatter-resistant tablet. Rose Kamrow introduced a new concept for the floral and gift industry.

All of the finalists agree the Muskie Tank mentors were instrumental in their success, giving them the knowledge and confidence to make an idea a reality.

Jim Mishek, founder of VistaTek and creator of the Muskie Tank, is pleased the Challenge is so successful. Three years ago, Mishek saw the potential to integrate real-world innovation and creativity into the college learning experience. “Our future leaders will need bold thinking and strong ideas,” says Mishek. “These students demonstrated these qualities, and that’s what we wanted to see as a result of the challenge. The participation was tremendous and exceeded our expectations.”

Century College Interim President Patrick Opatz agrees. “Not only were the finalists and their projects impressive, but we greatly appreciated the investment of time and expertise from the judges, especially Jim Mishek.  The College administration will be working with Jim on finding ways to expand this event to involve and include many more programs and departments in the future.”

The Muskie Tank challenge is a joint venture between local businesses and Century College. Sponsors of the Muskie Tank include: VistaTek, Wilson Tool, Redpath, Ltd., Risdall Advertising, 3M, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and the Century College Bookstore.

Please visit the Muskie Tank Challenge for more information.