News

Strathclyde Principal set for Royal Academy of Engineering role

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald has been nominated to become the next President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the first Scot to hold the post.

The Trustee Board of the Royal Academy has nominated the Principal of the University of Strathclyde as its Presidential candidate for election by Fellows at the September 2019 AGM.

Professor Sir Jim 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, ScottishPower, the UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the UK National Physical Laboratory.

Engineering excellence

Sir Jim said: “It truly is an honour to be considered for the position of President of the Royal Society of Engineering.

“To be recognised by the foremost engineering learned society in the world is both humbling and incredibly flattering. The RAE promotes engineering in all its forms and is a champion for engineering excellence, industrial innovation, societal and economic impact and the nurturing of world-class talent.

These are all matters I am passionate about and I am also inspired by the Academy’s commitment to widening the appeal of engineering, not least for girls and young women, along with those from non-traditional backgrounds.

“Scotland has a strong tradition of engineering excellence – from James Watt to John Logie Baird – and I am proud and delighted to be the first Scot to be nominated for this position. I am hugely thankful to the Trustees for recommending me to the Fellows for consideration.”

The Royal Academy of Engineering brings together the most talented and successful engineers in the UK to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

It gives policy advice to government; it delivers funding and programmes which help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential; it promotes engineering to the public and it provides global leadership for the profession.

Services to education

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.

In the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List on 16 June 2012, Professor McDonald was awarded a Knighthood 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 is Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee.

Academy President Professor Dame Ann Dowling said: “I am delighted that Sir Jim McDonald has been nominated as the next President of our Academy. He has made an immense contribution to the development of engineering innovation in Scotland and his business-focused approach will be of great value to the UK as a whole.”

Welcoming the news, Dame Sue Bruce, Convener of the University of Strathclyde Court, said: “This is absolutely stellar recognition for Jim, and for the wider University.

“As the Academy’s Presidential Candidate, Jim will use this platform to continue to reach out at every level to promote the values shared by Strathclyde and the Academy: widening access to education; celebrating diversity; fostering an innovative environment; and supporting research on the world-stage.

Under his leadership, Jim has transformed the University to position it as one of the UK leaders in working with business and industry. This nomination is significant recognition of the achievements of Jim on behalf of Strathclyde.”

Previous Presidents include Dame Ann Dowling, Lord Hinton of Bankside, Viscount Caldecote, Sir Denis Rooke, Sir William Barlow, Sir David Davies, Lord Broers, Lord Browne and Sir John Parker.

Of the Academy’s 1600 Fellows, half are drawn from business and industry, with the remainder being drawn from academia.