Eddy W. Hartenstein
Class of ’71 Aerospace Engineering
Class of ’72 Mathematics
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, DIRECTV, Inc.
Vice Chairman, Hughes Electronics Corporation
Eddy Hartenstein received two bachelor of science degrees from Cal Poly Pomona before going on to earn a master of science from Cal Tech in applied physics. Though seemingly set on a career path as an aerospace physicist, Hartenstein decided to forge his own way. “What fascinates me isn’t how someone designs a transistor or a bridge, but what makes the electronic system work and what makes the interstate highway system work—that requires system engineering,” he says. “And that’s what I got from my undergraduate years at Cal Poly Pomona, the knowledge to understand the importance of an integrated systems approach.”
Currently the vice-chairman of Hughes Electronics Corporation and chairman,chief executive officer of DIRECTV, Inc., Hartenstein forged a longterm bond with Hughes immediately after graduation from Cal Poly Pomona, where he also served as an aerospace engineering lecturer. At Hughes Space and Communications Company and NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Hartenstein has held a number of increasingly high profile positions. Most notably, he demonstrated his knack for anticipating and actualizing future trends when he directed the marketing and development of the original Galaxy satellite fleet, which served the fast-developing broadcast television and cable programming industries. Hartenstein has led DIRECTV since its creation in 1990, receiving three technical Emmy Awards for contributions to digital broadcast satellite technology.
“The idea for the delivery of television via satellite existed in the 1980s, but the technology wasn’t there to support it until the 1990s,” he says. “It took high-power satellites and digital video compression—the rest is what we learned in college about integrating systems.”
Hartenstein is currently chairman of the Satellite Broadcasting and communications Association (SBCA), sits on the board of directors for Thomson Multimedia and the Consumer Electronics Association. He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2001. In 2002, he was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. Hartenstein served as commencement speaker for Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering
class of 2003.