Student becomes successful entrepreneur | RIT

Adam Foster, a Ph.D. Mechanical and Industrial Engineering student from Villennes-sur-Seine, France, is a team member at PrisAM, a student company.

PrisAM is part of RIT’s venture creations business incubator. It’s a technology incubator that helps students with startups grow their businesses. Venture Creations offers connections to other entrepreneurs and hands-on coaching.

What is PrisAM about and who are your customers?

PrisAM is an advanced manufacturing company. We use breakthrough 3D printing technology to create airframes for unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. Our customized industrial 3D printer can print very complex geometric structures, so-called lattice structures, three-dimensionally. Our technology allows us to create parts that are both very light and very strong.

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

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At the same time, we will work towards obtaining the necessary certifications to manufacture parts for the general aerospace industry (non-UAV companies). Fuel efficiency, sustainability and cost reduction are top priorities for the aerospace industry and our technology will help them meet their priorities.

What are your tasks in the team?

Everyone on the team wears multiple hats. I am responsible for the mechanical design of our prototype multi-nozzle system. I’m also responsible for developing the company’s innovative solutions – one such example is the patent-pending die that was specifically designed for our process, but there are others in the development pipeline. Finally, I compiled the budgets for our projects and developed and maintained our financial model.

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How do you balance running a legitimate business and your schoolwork at the same time?

Not sure if that qualifies as work-life balance as both require a significant level of effort! Given where PrisAM is now, it requires many extra hours. Running the business and doing my schoolwork at the same time takes a lot of hours every day.

What are the next steps for PrisAM?

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PrisAM is currently at a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) of 4. We manufacture simple parts on our industrial 3D printer and raise funds through various grants to construct the final version. Creating the final version would bring us to a TRL of 6, which would allow us to make the types of parts that our customers require.

What is your plan after RIT?

Over the past three years of being an entrepreneur, it has become increasingly clear to me that this type of work is what I want to do when I finish my academic career – start new companies based on technical innovations are based, which enable me to finance the next inventions.

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