Laura O'Donnell

Laura O'Donnell

B.S.A.S.E. 1990
Owner, Synthese, LLC

Laura Johnson O'Donnell graduated with highest honors with a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering.  Not a typical aerospace engineer, ODonnell has used her business and technology strategy skills to bring the magic of satellites into millions of homes and cars.  As founder and owner of Synthese, LLC, O'Donnell specializes in business, technology and organizational strategy, as well as consumer electronics product usability and design for major clients such as Sirius Satellite Radio.

After graduation, Laura worked as an attitude controls system engineer and later a bus electronics systems engineer, with Hughes Space and Communications, where she helped the industry giant develop, analyze and operate satellites.  In 1992, she was honored with the Hughes Superior Performance Award and her aptitude as a leader was recognized in 1995 when she was promoted to department manager of spacecraft bus electronics systems engineering.  During her tenure as department manager, she oversaw a team of 50 engineers working on the development of three new satellite designs.

Laura continued to use her project management expertise but applied it to developing consumer electronics when she moved to DIRECTV in 1996.  In 2002, she was named vice president of product development where she defined and executed product strategy and led the deployment of a variety of innovative services, including DVR, HD, and Interactive. In 2004, the product team at DIRECTV was honored with the Consumer Electronics Association prestigious Innovations Award for Best in Category for their HD/DVD Receiver and was an honoree for their Multi-Room Receiver. 

ODonnell is a longtime supporter of the universitys aerospace engineering department, serving on their external advisory council from 1996-1999.  As a student, she received a Friends of Alec Scholarship and as an alumnus, is a Life Member of Friends of Alec, endowing a scholarship for a current student in an effort to encourage their academic dreams. 

She is married to Joe ODonnell and has two children, Sean, 6, and Erin, 5. She is also a Cordon Bleu trained chef with a passion for French food.

DEG Honorees

A "Distinguished Engineering Graduate" (DEG) is a graduate who has presented him or herself to the world as a consummate professional and dedicated engineer. Learn more about past DEG honorees.