Adam Booher has always had a passion for creating things. Whether it be a hovercraft, website, prosthetic arm, or a nonprofit organization, Adam enjoys the process of taking something that is only an idea and making it a reality.
Growing up in Springfield, Illinois, Adam spent a great deal of time working with his father on woodworking projects. As he grew older and attended Lutheran High School, Adam enlisted some of his friends to help in the construction of a hovercraft powered by two leaf blowers. These projects helped Adam see that you don’t have to start out as an expert in a particular field to create something, but rather that you can learn as you go. Additionally, during his high school years, Adam developed experience and confidence in public speaking as he acted in lead roles in his high school’s theater program and participated in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy essay competition. His aptitude for speaking in front of large audiences would serve Adam well in later years.
Studying Engineering Mechanics at the University of Illinois, Adam was able to combine the skills and passions that were nurtured in high school with the technical knowledge of an engineering education. At Illinois, Adam took courses in mechanical design, entrepreneurship, and micro and nanofabrication. He was also a member of the University Chorus, the Orange Krush, and was chosen as a Knight of St. Patrick, one of the highest awards bestowed by the College of Engineering at Illinois.
During his time at Illinois, Adam also connected with individuals who were passionate about ideas. At the outset of his sophomore year, Adam helped to found a group of engineering students dedicated to designing a prosthetic arm for people who cannot obtain traditional, custom-made devices. This group was originally called the Illini Prosthetics Team (IPT), but would eventually grow into the nonprofit organization now called Bump. The student team spent their time outside of class researching, prototyping, and testing designs for a new type of prosthetic arm. Over years of research the team built hundreds of prototypes and sought advice from many experts in the field. In the summer of 2010, Adam and three of the other core team leaders took a trip to Guatemala to test prototypes of their new prosthetic arm. Returning from this pivotal trip, the team spent more time refining their design and developing new prototypes.
In the spring of 2011, the Bump team created the first versions of what would later be called the OpenSocket. In October of that year, Adam and the rest of the team traveled to Guatemala a second time and tested the latest version of the OpenSocket with several different patients. The OpenSocket is a high-quality, rapid-fitting prosthetic arm for below-elbow cases of amputation. Unlike traditional prosthetic arms that must be custom made for each patient over several days or weeks, the OpenSocket can be fit to a patient in about 30 minutes with only a few simple tools. The OpenSocket enables more organizations to provide prosthetic care and creates better access for the 98% of amputees in developing countries who currently cannot obtain a prosthesis.
For the past 14 months, Adam has lead Bump as its President. In that time, Bump has obtained its 501(c)(3) status, formed partnerships with organizations in 8 countries to distribute the OpenSocket, and worked with those organizations to provide prosthetic care to 55 individuals. Adam is dedicated to making sure that Bump grows its capacity as an organization, and continues to scale up, so it can serve more people.