THERE’S A REASON WHY ISAR MOSTAFANEZHAD, PH.D. IS HEADING UP ONE OF THE STATE’S MOST PROLIFIC ENGINEERING START-UPS—NALU SCIENTIFIC—AND IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH HIS KNACK FOR SYSTEMS AND MICROELECTRONICS ACUMEN. Now, the electrical engineer is expanding his brain space and life experiences even further after taking on a new role: dad.
This past fall, Mostafanezhad and his wife welcomed their first child, a son, and life is a little bit brighter, as he tells it.
“It’s a different world now,” says the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa alum. “I had a feeling there was a part of my brain that was dormant, but now, new muscles are firing. My life has always been about learning new things, and this is another fun challenge.”
Being father to an infant is new territory for Mostafanezhad, but at Nalu Scientific, he’s quite at home. “I was al- ways interested in computers from the time I was a kid,” he recalls.
Mostafanezhad quickly became fascinated with—and highly skilled at— programming, and decided to pursue a degree in an adjacent field.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical, electronics and commu- nications engineering, followed by a master’s degree in the same concentration. Finally, after moving to the Islands in 2006, he emerged with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UH.
“It’s more hardware-oriented,” he adds of his degrees.
After graduating with his doctorate back in 2010, Mostafanezhad did some traveling and gained work experience in co-founding a number of local tech startups.
Then, in 2015, Mostafanezhad branched out to start his own company, and Nalu Scientific was born. The local company, known for its work in build- ing high-end sensors and systems for the likes of the U.S. Air Force, NASA, U.S. Department of Energy, etc., has been raking in funding (for a number of projects) upwards of $600,000—and that’s was all just in 2019. (Since its inception in 2015, the company has garnered nearly $3 million in grants for its work with cutting-edge electronics.)
Back in August, Nalu Scientific was awarded a NASA grant to work on what it calls SWELL, the Single-photon-sensitive Waveform Enhanced and Lightweight LIDAR system.
Then, in September, it partnered with San Francisco-based Space Micro to work on a U.S. Air Force project that’ll help solve some of the nation’s security challenges.
All of this sounds pretty amazing, right?
Even more amazing, though, is the business model Mostafanezhad and Nalu Scientific follow. Once selected as a grantee—after a rigorously aggressive application and proposal process—Nalu Scientific gets the best of both worlds. It’s able to help government entities, private-sector businesses, universities and other entities find tech-savvy solutions to a problem, all while getting funding to continue its research and development processes.
At its core, grants like these allow Nalu Scientific to develop its own ideas: It’s the muscle behind research and development.
The fact that Nalu Scientific stays at the forefront of these opportunities speaks volumes about the company and its team.
“We are on a growth path,” Mostafanezhad states. “We’re looking to hire qualified people, sourced locally here in Hawai‘i. That’s what we’d love to do.” naluscientific.com