image description image description
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship


The Legatum Center supports entrepreneurs all around the world through the fellowship, seed grant, Zambezi Prize and Open Mic programs.

image description

Katherine Spies

2013 - 2014
United States of America
Waste Management
BS, School of Engineering

Katherine Spies is working toward creating a hybrid value chain in India that will (1) improve the lives of waste pickers, who currently receive marginal pay for the vital and backbreaking work that they do, and (2) introduce 3D printing technology to communities now lacking it.

To accomplish this, she has cofounded ProtoPrint Solutions, a unique low-cost rapid prototyping service. It is based on a hybrid value chain in urban India that empowers waste pickers by giving them the technology to produce 3D printer filament from waste plastic. The “green” filament is then used to provide low-cost rapid prototyping services to students and professionals in India.

Katherine believes ProtoPrint Solutions’ services can be revolutionary for the Indian marketplace. They can replace the lesser quality, higher cost, and more time-consuming means of prototyping in this region. She is looking forward to the opportunities, challenges, and experiences that will come as the venture grows.

Her past internships as an engineer at an automotive company and as a project manager at ExxonMobil have shown her how design firms in the US and other developed regions utilize and benefit greatly from the rapid prototyping uses of 3D printing. In addition, she has personally led projects that required 3D printed iterations throughout the design process.

Katherine came to MIT with a desire to study mechanical engineering, inspired by mechanical design and her experience performing AutoCAD design work for architectural and engineering companies. At MIT, Katherine is working towards a double major with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BS in Civil & Environmental Engineering. She has focused her studies on sustainable design and product development. She has also served as president of a group working throughout South America to bring sustainable medical care and mobile medical clinics to impoverished areas lacking government aid.