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Pavlis Honors College Inspires New Entrepreneurial Venture – Airmax Aerial

Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College (PHC) supports highly motivated Michigan Tech students from all programs to achieve the highest standards of academic excellence.

“We encourage the unexpected by challenging the norm. We push you outside of your comfort zone. We urge you not to be a passive player on campus; instead embrace the values of the institution and the reasons you came here. Take charge of your education to create your future.”

These words helped inspire current student, Aaron Kostrzewa, a sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering to enroll in the PHC. The PHC serves highly motivated students to enhance their college experience and take full advantage of the amazing opportunities that Michigan Tech has to offer by customizing their education to suit interests in industry, innovation, research, domestic service and other global engagements.

Airmax Aerial
Michigan Tech students, Aaron Kostrzewa and Max Casler

Aaron and fellow student, Max Casler, a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering, were excited to see the resources available for entrepreneurs in the PHC and that entrepreneurship is encouraged on campus. Both Aaron and Max developed a passion for the emerging technology of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) during their first year at Michigan Tech. Together they acquired equipment and developed skills to use the drones to photograph the amazing beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula and their hometown of Traverse City, MI. This led Aaron and Max to start an aerial photography and cinematography company that utilizes unmanned aerial systems to capture the world from a new perspective. AirMax Aerial, LLC, the vision of Aaron and Max, now use top of the line drones to create captivating photos and videos for their clients.

Engineering minds aren’t just good for designing systems and solving problems. Max uses his engineering skills to design a business and learn how to grow an idea into a company. Aaron has previous experience in business ownership from a lawn business he started in his hometown. He combines his existing client interaction skills with the technical skills learned at Michigan Tech to create a business that can compete in 21st century markets.

Aaron and Max are also staying current on all air traffic laws. Because small, unmanned commercially available aerial vehicle use is somewhat controversial, AirMax Aerial is taking all recommended precautions for safe and legal flight. Some of these include filing information with the appropriate governmental agencies, contacting local authorities before flying, clearing flights near airports with air traffic controllers, and educating people interested in these systems.

Aaron and Max realize that the commercial drone market is expected to be saturated in the coming years. Therefore, AirMax Aerial is making ample preparations to stay ahead of the game. Specialization is the key. Through business connections, they have established contacts in the golf and boating industries. However, signing a client is only half the work. Exceptional video editing, customer relations, marketing, and branding are all essentially to future business. AirMax Aerial seeks to be highly professional and to build a high caliber company to compete and excel in the marketplace.

As a member of the PHC, Aaron is able to improve the business through the vast resources available through the PHC and at Michigan Tech. He has a mentor for business advice and support, while classes through the PHC challenge him and allow him to grow as a leader. AirMax Aerial is benefiting from training, mentoring, business counseling, and access to a rich network of resources through the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship which is housed within the PHC and was recently established to leverage experience in technology commercialization and startup business development on-campus with related off-campus connections to serve students who have a passion for transforming ideas into commercial opportunities and ultimately into capital.