A student becomes a successful entrepreneur | laughs


Adam Foster, a Ph.D. mechanical and industrial engineering student from Villennes-sur-Seine, France, is a member of the PrisAM team, a student-owned company.

PrisAM is part of RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator. It is a technology business incubator that helps student start-ups grow their business. Venture Creations provides connections with other entrepreneurs and hands-on coaching.

What is PrisAM and who are your customers?

PrisAM is an advanced manufacturing company. We use revolutionary 3D printing technology to manufacture airframes for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Our bespoke industrial 3D printer can print very complex geometric structures, called lattice structures, in three dimensions. Our technology allows us to produce parts that are both very light and very resistant.

Because we are a contract manufacturing company and 3D printing can produce an extremely wide range of parts, our technology would benefit many industries. Based on the results of our customer interactions to date, we have decided to focus our production on the drone industry. Our customers are companies that manufacture medium to large scale drones.

At the same time, we will strive to obtain the necessary certifications to manufacture parts for the wider aerospace industry (non-UAV businesses). Energy efficiency, sustainability and cost reduction are top priorities for the aerospace industry, and our technology will help them achieve their priorities.

What are your responsibilities within the team?

All team members wear multiple hats. I am responsible for the mechanical design of our prototype multi-nozzle system. I am also responsible for the development of the company’s innovative solutions, for example the patent pending nozzle, designed to work specifically for our process, but there are others in development. Finally, I set up the budgets for our projects, and I developed and maintained our financial model.

How do you balance helping run a legitimate business and your school work at the same time?

I’m not sure this qualifies as work-life balance as both require a significant level of effort! Given PrisAM’s current situation, this requires a lot of overtime. Running the business and doing my homework at the same time involves very long hours, every day.

What are the next steps for PrisAM?

PrisAM is currently at a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) of 4. We are manufacturing simple parts on our industrial 3D printer and raising funds through various grants to build the final version. Building the final version would take us to a TRL of 6, which would allow us to manufacture the types of parts that our customers need.

What is your project after the RIT?

Over the past three years that I’ve worked as an entrepreneur, it’s become increasingly clear that this kind of work is what I want to do after my college career is over – building new businesses based on technical innovations that allow me to fund future inventions.

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