MSE Alumnus and Small Business Entrepreneur Brings a Unique Perspective to the External Advisory Board

Neal Magdefrau in Electron Microscopy Innovative Technologies’ new office in Tolland, CT


By Amanda Song

As one of the first graduates of the newly-formed MSE program in 2005, and a subsequent MS and Ph.D. graduate of the program in 2013, Neal Magdefrau has watched UConn’s MSE department grow from five students and a few faculty, to 41 faculty and over 250 students.

In the coming year, he will return as the newest member of the External Advisory Board, joining ten other industry partners in working to strengthen the visibility of the UConn MSE Department at the university, state, and national level, and to assist with strategic planning.

During his 12 years at UConn, Neal served as President of the UConn Material Advantage (UCMA), and as a member of ASM and TMS. He completed his Ph.D. thesis titled “Evaluation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Interconnect Coatings: Reaction Layer Microstructure, Chemistry and Formation Mechanisms” under the advisory of Professor Mark Aindow. 

The three-time MSE graduate is now a small business entrepreneur and staff engineer and research scientist in the Measurement Science Group at UTRC. He works part-time at UTRC while cultivating his company Electron Microscopy Innovative Technologies, which is the first and only business in the U.S. offering rentals of desktop Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs).

“I believe the technology industry in Connecticut is at the beginning of a resurgence, and small technology startups are going to have a major impact in repairing the state’s stagnant economy,’ Neal said. His business has grown “about 30 percent year-over-year,” he said, adding two new SEMs to their rental fleet and recently opening a second office location in Tolland, CT.

Neal has spent most of his time at UTRC working on high temperature materials and coatings for ceramic matrix composites, as well as running programs at UTRC in the areas of bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) and atomic layer deposition (ALD). But what excites him most is working with cutting-edge equipment to solve problems.

“The best days are those where I can help a customer solve an issue that they haven’t been able to resolve without using advanced materials characterization.  The reason I started my business is to put more powerful microscopes in the hands of more companies to help them address their R&D and manufacturing needs.”

In 2012, Neal received the Senior Vice President’s Award, given by the CTO to their small service group for outstanding service. He holds eight patents and has more invention disclosures pending.

In September, Neal was invited to join the External Advisory Board after alumna Alexandra Merkouriou stepped down to continue her research at UConn’s Airforce Research Laboratory—Research in Advanced Manufacturing, and to pursue a Ph.D.

Please join us in welcoming Neal Magdefrau to the Board!

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