Bert E. Forbes

Honorary Degrees

Bert E. ForbesBert E. Forbes


California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Bert E. Forbes is an innovator, an accomplished business executive and a visionary philanthropist whose passion for serving his profession and his community has earned him recognition as a dynamic civic leader and staunch supporter of public education and the arts.

Mr. Forbes earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master's in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He was a doctoral candidate in computer science at Stanford when Hewlett-Packard Corporation offered him an international assignment.

An innovator, Mr. Forbes enjoyed a stellar career at Hewlett-Packard as one of the original architects of the HP 3000 minicomputer, which introduced the era of distributed data processing. He also was the designer of HP's first 16-bit microprocessor.

In 1976, Mr. Forbes continued to blaze new trails in launching Ziatech Corporation, which he co-founded with his wife, Candace. Their decision to base their company in San Luis Obispo was based in part on Ziatech's need for talented Cal Poly student interns and graduates, thus launching a deep and enduring relationship with the university as the company grew to more than 200 employees and moved to the forefront of embedded computer technology.

At Cal Poly, Mr. Forbes has served on a variety of advisory boards in the College of Engineering and was recognized for his commitment with the College's Distinguished Service Award in 2002. He and his wife have provided support for the creation of two endowed Cal Poly professorships in computer engineering, in addition to the Bert and Candace Forbes Engineering Lab Endowment Fund. The couple also has ardently supported the arts, including, among other gifts, donating a 2,767-piece pipe organ to the Performing Arts Center's Christopher Cohan Center in 2005.

As a civic leader in San Luis Obispo County, Mr. Forbes served on the board of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District and was a founding member of several business action committees and task forces. He was a guiding force in establishing the prestigious Leadership San Luis Obispo program, now in its 21st year. Mr. Forbes' community service was recognized in 2006 when the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year.

In consideration of his exemplary career, service to his community and dedication to higher education and the arts, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo are proud to confer upon Bert E. Forbes the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.​