Dr. Henry “Harry” McDonald
Dr. Henry “Harry” McDonald passed away peacefully on May 25, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. Harry was the beloved husband of June, loving father to Ian, Catriona and Gordon, and devoted father-in-law to Patricia McDonald, Daniel Harrop, and Alison McDonald. He will be greatly missed by his nine grandchildren Maxwell, Ryan, Alexander, Brendan, Gordon, Cameron, Audrey, Jane, and Emerson.
Harry was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1937 to Alfred and Margaret McDonald, raised in a small town named Girvan, and educated at the University of Glasgow where he earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering with honors and a doctorate in engineering. It was at the University where he met and soon married the love of his life, June, who was a medical student. Harry worked in the U.K. aerospace industry on several civilian and military aircraft, as well as training as a pilot in the Royal Air Force Reserve before immigrating to the U.S. in 1965.
In the U.S. Harry was a staff member at the United Technologies Research Center, in Hartford CT, rising to become head of the Gas Dynamics group in 1973. During this time Harry investigated problems in heat transfer and gas dynamics relative to aircraft engine performance and design, becoming a leading expert in the developing field of computational fluid dynamics. Harry left United Technologies to become the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Scientific Research Associates where he was responsible for the firm’s research in aero-, hydro-, and gas dynamics, optical electronics, and biomedical efforts.
During this time, Harry was the co-inventor of a patented novel high-frequency ventilator which provides life support to critically ill patients suffering from Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a disease affecting over 300,000 people in the United States every year.
Harry next spent several years as the assistant director of computational sciences and professor of mechanical engineering at the Applied Research Lab at Pennsylvania State University.
On January 19, 1996, Harry was appointed Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, at Moffet Airfield in Mountain View, CA, serving in that capacity until 2002. While Center Director, Harry oversaw a 5,000-person research effort in supercomputing, information technology, aeronautics, biotechnology, and space science research. In 2009 Harry was inducted into the NASA Hall of Fame for providing, “…exceptional leadership and keen technical insight to NASA Ames as the Center re-invented itself in the late 1990s”.
Harry McDonald is a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 2000, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow and Honorary Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and a Fellow of Royal Aeronautical Society. In 2008, Harry was appointed an Honorary Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) (UK) presented its 2009 Gold Medal Award to Harry for work of an outstanding nature in aerospace. The event marked the centennial of the first RAeS Gold Medal which was awarded to the Wright Brothers in 1909.
Harry was devoted to his wife and family, and an avid swimmer, sailing enthusiast, pilot, and mathphile. Most of all, he was a good man who touched many lives. He will be greatly missed.
There will be a memorial service for Harry on June 19th at 10am at the South Congregational church in South Glastonbury, CT. Interment Private.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Henry McDonald Memorial Fund (http://henrymcdonaldmemorialfund.org/) which will support engineering education at the University of Glasgow for underprivileged and exceptional students.