The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 23

Professional Profile

Professional Profile

What inspired you to choose
the engineering field?
In fifth grade I became interested in electricity. I read,
learned to solder, built a short-wave radio, walkie
talkies, and a code oscillator, among others. By high
school I took courses and built a superheterodyne AM/
FM radio, and replaced the picture tube in a black and
white TV.

What do you love about engineering?

John D. McDonald, P.E.
IEEE Fellow
Beta Chapter
John D. McDonald, P.E., is Smart Grid Business
Development Leader for GE's Grid Solutions business.
John has 46 years of experience in the electric utility
transmission and distribution industry. John received
his B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. (Power Engineering) degrees
from Purdue University, and an M.B.A. (Finance)
degree from the University of California-Berkeley. John
is a Life Fellow of IEEE, and was awarded the IEEE
Millennium Medal, the IEEE Power & Energy Society
(PES) Excellence in Power Distribution Engineering
Award, the IEEE PES Substations Committee
Distinguished Service Award, the IEEE PES Meritorious
Service Award, the 2015 CIGRE Distinguished
Member Award and the 2015 CIGRE USNC Attwood
Associate Award. John is Past President of the IEEE
PES, the VP for Technical Activities for the US National
Committee (USNC) of CIGRE, the Past Chair of
the IEEE PES Substations Committee, and the IEEE
Division VII Past Director. John was on the Board of
Governors of the IEEE-SA (Standards Association).
John received the 2009 Outstanding Electrical and
Computer Engineer Award from Purdue University.
John teaches a Smart Grid course at the Georgia
Institute of Technology, a Smart Grid course for GE,
and Smart Grid courses for various IEEE PES local
chapters as an IEEE PES Distinguished Lecturer. John
has published one hundred fifty papers and articles,
has co-authored five books and has one US patent.

John speaking in Sao Paulo

How has Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN)
impacted your life? Your career?
I was initiated into Eta Kappa Nu on May 2, 1971
at the Beta Chapter at Purdue University. This was
the end of my second year at Purdue. Eta Kappa Nu
was the first validation for me that I was doing well
in Electrical Engineering and gave me tremendous
confidence. I had a very challenging curriculum with
being in the Honors Program, beginning to take
graduate courses in my third year, getting my BSEE in
four years, and my MSEE in just one additional year
with a thesis in addition to course work. In addition,
I was in the Delta Sigma Phi social fraternity, living in
the fraternity house and had an active social life! The
confidence Eta Kappa Nu gave me in my own abilities
was what I needed to do well with this challenging
curriculum. This confidence has stayed with me for
my entire life and positively impacted me to accept
challenging assignments and to work hard and do well.

John leading breakfast roundtable-DTECH 2020

Whom do you admire and why?

John at work-1975

THE BRIDGE

I love using my knowledge and experience to solve
problems. We learned in engineering how to solve
problems. I also love helping others. After 46 years
of full-time engineering work, my love today is to use
my knowledge and experience to help others. With
engineering, I can combine my love for problem
solving with my love for helping others. I mentor
many young professionals, both within GE and
outside GE, which I enjoy doing very much.

With my love of solving complex problems, I admire
astronaut Jim Lovell. He commanded the 1970
Apollo 13 lunar mission which, after a critical failure
en route, circled around the Moon and returned
safely to Earth through the efforts of the crew
and mission control. Using the Lunar Module as
a "lifeboat" providing battery power, oxygen, and
propulsion, Lovell and his crew re-established the
free return trajectory that they had left and swung
around the Moon to return home. Based on the

flight controllers' calculations made on Earth,
Lovell had to adjust the course twice by manually
controlling the Lunar Module's thrusters and engine.
He and I participated in Boy Scouts and are both
Eagle Scouts. I had the opportunity to meet and
talk with Jim Lovell one-on-one at a GE customer
event. Solving these complex problems with your
life and your crewmates lives at stake is the ultimate
engineering challenge!

In your opinion, what has been the
greatest change in engineering since you
were a student?
The greatest change in engineering since I was
a student in 1969 to 1974 is digitization, or the
application of computers. There were no HP or TI
calculators when I was a student. We used slide
rules. My Masters thesis in 1973-1974 was two and
one-half boxes of computer cards that the Purdue
University computing center would only run overnight
because it put too much load on the campus
computer system! We had to walk to the computing
center, submit the deck or box of computer cards,
and wait or come back for the output. We didn't know
how long it would take to get the output. When my
son studied Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech
in 2003-2007, he would run complex computer
programs from his laptop while in his fraternity house
and get the results back quickly! Today, with the
coronavirus, my granddaughter, who is in 3rd grade,
and my grandson, who is in kindergarten, are using
their own laptops at home for virtual class using the
Zoom application. The change from when I was a
student to today is surreal!

John moderating panel session in Sao Paulo

HKN.ORG

23


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The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020

Contents
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - Cover1
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - Cover2
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - Contents
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 4
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 5
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The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 7
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The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 20
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 21
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The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 25
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The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 29
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - 30
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - Cover3
The Bridge - Issue 2, 2020 - Cover4
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