Enabling the Internet of Things

Jeff Shealy

Jeff Shealy is Founder and CEO of Akoustis Technologies (Nasdaq: AKTS), established in 2014 by UC Santa Barbara and Cornell University alumni.

The company’s goal is to improve the efficiency and signal quality of mobile wireless devices, enable the Internet of Things, improve performance and lower cost. Shealy was a principle founder of RF Nitro Communications, Inc., where he served as president and CEO until RFMD acquired the company in October, 2001. Shealy is a Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellow and has held positions at Hughes Research Labs and Hughes Network School of Business at Wake Forest University. He earned his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University, his M.B.A. from Wake Forest University, and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the UC Santa Barbara. Shealy is a member of the IEEE Electron Device Society.

Why did you choose to study at UC Santa Barbara?

Broad expertise of faculty, Nobel Laureate faculty, laboratory facilities, hands-on lab experience, engineering curriculum and relevant technical fields-of-study.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy working with other engineering experts to join together to make differentiated technology solutions based upon superior material science. 

How did your major help you in your career? 

My EE major and doctoral work at UCSB enabled me to embrace solid state physics and explore scientific method to engineer real world solutions.

What is a challenge you experienced and how did you overcome it?

One type of challenge I have faced my entire career is solving complex technical problems and I have only achieved success by hiring diverse people, smarter than myself and allowing them to lead in their respective roles. 

What is one career or personal milestone that you are most proud of?

Founding a high-tech start-up (Akoustis) and leading the company to a Nasdaq listing. One of the proudest moments was ringing the closing bell in Times Square NYC at the Nasdaq. 

Who are your role models? How important are mentors in your chosen field?

UCSB Professors Umesh K. Mishra and Steve P. Denbaars are key role models in my career to this day. Mentors are critical in my field in ECE because they are the first professionals to believe in you—this gives you the confidence to believe in yourself and succeed.

What advice do you have for current UCSB students?

Find your passion, follow your thirst for knowledge and take guidance from the giants in your field.

What are some of your student life experiences at UCSB?

Coming to graduate school at UCSB and learning to love my field of study in ECE. Surviving the ECE screening exam to continue my graduate work. Learning the culture of my fellow students in one of the most diverse melting pots I have ever experienced in my life.

Any hobbies?

Running, boating, swimming. 

Anything else you would like to highlight?

The most valuable data I have taken in my career and personal life has been derived from my failures. I have discovered that success is learning NOT to fail. Experiencing failure is the greatest motivation to succeed. Embrace your failures, learn not to repeat them and never give up on yourself.

Reasons We're Proud to be Gauchos

No. 9

I am proud to be a Gaucho because my success in my career and life was enabled by my graduate experience and education at UCSB. I am also proud of the tradition I see continuing at the school.