From Research to Spinout and Much More
Three-time husky Anton Geiler, PhD 2009, electrical engineering, never could have guessed that his research in a Northeastern lab would contribute to creating rising product development company Metamagnetics, and that he would one day become its president.
Thrilled by wireless communication and the application of materials, Geiler started at Northeastern as an electrical and computer engineering major in 2002. He completed his first co-op freshman year at Cytyc Corporation developing software for medical diagnostic products. Next, he dealt with hardware at Cognex Corporation, completing testing and assembly of machine vision products and learning to solder and use electric test equipment.
“What I was trying to do with my co-op experience is to try a lot of different things before I decided what I ultimately wanted to settle on,” Geiler said.
During his third year, Geiler met University Distinguished Professor Vincent Harris, electrical and computer engineering. His electronic design teaching professor and soon to be PhD advisor, Carmine Vittoria, introduced them. Geiler joined Vittoria and Harris’ Center for Microwave Magnetic Materials and Integrated Circuits lab implementing circuits, and continued on for his third co-op experience.
Through this work, Geiler found that Harris had a vision to start a company based on the research being conducted in his lab. This research could address significant challenges faced by the military as well as commercial companies in accessing the electromagnetic spectrum to sense the environment and communicate information. They began informally discussing strategies for a spin out company and then founded Metamagnetics in 2009 focusing initially on developing radar and communication electronics for military applications.
“The technology we were developing really had a lot of potential, but it needed more work in an industrial setting to become part of our everyday lives,” Geiler said. “We felt that the best way to accomplish that would be to start a company.”
While planning for the company, Geiler continued his education at Northeastern, primarily fueled by positive relationships with and respect for the faculty. During the first two years of Metamagnetics’ formal launch, he graduated with a PhD in electrical engineering while maintaining a job with Northeastern as a postdoctoral research associate. He worked one to two days a week for Metamagnetics, then transitioned to full time.
Geiler began as the company’s director of research and development, working hands-on to obtain funding, make devices, run tests and simulations, and speak with potential customers. As the company evolved and acquired employees, he took on a supervisor role. In 2014, he was elected by the board of directors to serve as president.
Since its founding, Metamagnetics, located in Westborough, has grown from three employees to 21, and they have matured and productized their technology over time. Now, the company has progressed to manufacturing devices, and are positioned for “exciting developments” in the next year. In 2018, they won the Best Manufacturer Award by the State of Massachusetts (dist. 8).
They were also awarded a $4.5 million MANTECH contract from the Department of Defense for the manufacturing of materials critical to national security.
“I was there for that entire journey, that entire arc,” Geiler said, “and the breadth and depth of experience I got along the way there was phenomenal.”