Profile of Distinction: Jeff Schlageter

Photo of Jeff Schlageter

An Interview with Jeff Schlageter
Project Management Consultant, Project Acceleration

Interviewed for the Fall 2011 ECE Current newsletter

  • UCSB Degrees: B.S.E.E. (1965) and M.S.E.E. (1967)
  • Research Area: integrated circuit design
  • Current Work: after 33 years in industry, Schlageter has cut back on his full-time work and is a worldwide project management consultant with Project Acceleration and is also an instructor on the UC and Stanford campuses
  • Career Highlights: responsible for the development of the integrated circuits on the Mars Pathfinder mission at Actel; the Actel IPO; and building large engineering and business organizations that bring products to market

play video icon Video of Interview with Jeff Schlageter

Jeff Schlageter was in the first ECE graduating class in 1965. Upon graduation, Schlageter started designing integrated circuits for companies such as GE, Fairchild Semiconductor, and then Advanced Micro Devices. He also worked for Mostek/ST, Actel, Cirrus Logic, and Ortel/Lucent. At Actel he was responsible for the development of the 23 CMOS Field Programmable Gate Array ICs that were on the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission. He reflects about his experience with the department during its formative years.

Why did you choose UCSB over other universities?

I had chosen to go to UCSB after I had gone to UC Berkeley for one year. I heard that UCSB had an engineering program starting, so I came down and took a look at it, and I liked what I saw. One reason I chose to come here was I could take some of my EE classes in my 2nd year rather than my 3rd. Also the classes were a lot smaller and I wanted more professor contact, and I felt at UCSB the professor would be doing all of the teaching. I was a little concerned about my decision because the school was brand new and not accredited at the time, but I overcame that concern and I never looked back.

What were your favorite classes at UCSB and why?

By the time I entered here I was just really excited about the courses: everything from the EE classes in applied electrical engineering where we were dealing with some very unique problems, to microwaves and electromagnetic theory, to the physics department and quantum mechanics. All of that excited me, but the one that really tied in with my goals and desires was semiconductor electronics. I saw this as a newer field and I thought this would be fun to be in a field that was just developing.

As one of the first students in the electrical engineering department (now ECE), what were some of the biggest challenges you observed in establishing engineering here at UCSB?

I ended up graduating in the first graduating class in 1965. That class started with about 126 students, and 12 of us graduated three years after I transferred to UCSB. In terms of establishing electrical engineering here at the University, they had a really good core of professors. And by the time I got to graduate school, we had a brand new building. That was Engineering I – it was really a nice building with all the nice equipment. So that worked well to continue my interest in UCSB.

What is your advice for students starting their engineering careers this fall as first-year students in Electrical Engineering?

For new engineering students, I think back to when I came to UCSB in my second year. The first thing on my mind was getting a good grounding of the fundamentals, because that will stay with you through your whole life. So that was one of my initial focuses. Then I wanted to try to find my passion, and it turned out to be semiconductors and integrated circuits. So I was sure in my first graduate year that was pretty much what I wanted to do.

What can the department do to help prepare students for industry?

One of the things I’ve noticed from my career is I entered with very good engineering fundamentals and I found out that most of the things I was working on were projects with a due date – a quick due date. And I found out I didn’t really have the tools and techniques necessary to manage projects. So what I recommend the EE department do is to provide access to a project management course for high tech projects and encourage students to take that before they graduate. Then they will get a jump start in inevitably what they will find is project management, and that’s an important part of their career.