From education to employment

Sir Jim McDonald confirmed as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, has been confirmed as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering following a vote by Fellows at the Academy’s AGM on Monday 30 September 2019. Sir Jim, who is the Academy’s first Scottish President, will serve a term of five years.

Sir Jim McDonald is one of Scotland’s most accomplished engineers, and co-chairs the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board, with the First Minister. He is Chairman of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board and holds senior business appointments with the Weir Group, Scottish Power, the UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the UK National Physical Laboratory.

Born in Glasgow, Sir Jim studied for his first degree in electrical engineering at the University of Strathclyde and started his engineering career as a graduate apprentice on the Scottish Electrical Training Scheme. He worked in the electrical utility sector for seven years and returned to the University of Strathclyde in 1984 as a University Grants Commission New Blood Lecturer in Electrical Engineering. He was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993 and became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in March 2009.

Professor McDonald was awarded a Knighthood in 2012 for services to education, engineering and the economy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics and the Energy Institute. He chairs two of the pan-Scotland research pools in Energy and Engineering and has served as Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee.

Sir Jim McDonald says:

“Within my own life and career, I have seen how engineering can be an immensely powerful force in society. A force that is of the utmost relevance to the key issues of today, whether that be the need to drastically improve the sustainability of our way of life, or how we can continue to create jobs and opportunity across the UK during these uncertain times – through the application of engineering innovation, an entrepreneurial spirit and the use of data and evidence that informs effective policies.

“I am honoured to have been elected as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and to lead an organisation that promotes engineering in all its forms and is a champion for engineering excellence, industrial innovation, societal impact and the nurturing of world-class talent.”

Since the Fellowship of Engineering (now the Royal Academy of Engineering) was formed in 1976, its Previous Presidents have been:

  • Lord Hinton of Bankside OM KBE FRS FEng
  • Viscount Caldecote KBE DSC DL FREng
  • Sir Denis Rooke CBE FRS FREng
  • Sir William Barlow FREng
  • Sir David Davies CBE FREng FLSW FRS
  • Lord Broers DL FREng FRS
  • Lord Browne of Madingley FREng FRS
  • Sir John Parker GBE FREng
  • Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS


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