Professor Sir Jim McDonald became the first Scottish holder of the office after he was chosen by Fellows of the Academy at its AGM (Annual General Meeting) in London. The election follows his nomination by RAEng’s Trustee Board earlier this year.
Sir Jim, principal of Strathclyde for the past decade, has a career in engineering spanning 40 years and is one of the UK’s foremost experts in the field.
He co-chairs the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board with the First Minister and chairs the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board.
Sir Jim was knighted in 2012 for services to education, engineering and the economy.
Sir Jim said: “It is a tremendous honour and endorsement to be appointed to this prestigious post with the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“Engineering makes a vast contribution to the national and global economy and has an immense impact on everyday life: in the technology we use; the buildings we live and work in; the medical treatments we receive; the energy and water supplies we rely on; the digital communications we use; and, the roads and transport we use for travel.
“The sector will continue to prosper through enhancing the skills of its existing workers and producing highly-qualified new recruits. Educational institutions and industry both have an important role to play in this and are both represented in RAEng, which acts as a dedicated and vital advocate for engineering in all its disciplines.
“Engineering in the UK has a proud and enviable history. It also has great potential for the future and I look forward to supporting and championing the sector in my new role.”
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.
Glasgow-born, Sir Jim gained his first degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from Strathclyde before going on to take Masters and PhD degrees at the University in the field of power and energy systems.
After working in the electrical utility sector for seven years, Sir Jim returned to Strathclyde in 1984.
He was later appointed Head of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Deputy Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange before becoming principal in 2009.
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.
In 2019, Sir Jim received the Energy Institute’s Melchett Award in recognition of his contribution to the energy sector.
Sir Jim is the 10th RAEng President to be appointed since the academy’s inception in 1976 and the fourth to be an Electrical Engineering graduate. 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.
RAEng also announced the election of 54 new Fellows, including Professor Dracos Vassalos, of Strathclyde’s Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Marine Engineering.
Professor Vassalos is a Professor of Maritime Safety and Director of the Maritime Safety Research Centre, an industry-academia inter-disciplinary partnership based at Strathclyde. In his 40-year career in industry and academia, he has promoted the use of scientific approaches in maritime safety and risk, including environmental risk.
He previously received RAEng’s Sustainable Achievement Award, the Royal Institution of Naval Architects’ Froude Medal and the David Taylor Medal from the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in the US. He is one of only four people to have received both the Froude Medal and the David Taylor medal.
Of the academy’s 1600 Fellows, half are drawn from business and industry, with the remainder being drawn from academia.