John S. MacDonald

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For other people named John S. Macdonald, see John S. Macdonald (disambiguation).

John Spencer MacDonald, OC is a Canada engineer, businessman, and academic. He is co-founder of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), an aerospace, information systems, and technology company. MacDonald is currently chancellor at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Early life and education[edit]

He was awarded a Bachelor's degree with honours in Electrical Engineering from University of British Columbia and a Master's Degree and PhD in Electrical Engineering from MIT.


MacDonald co-founded MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates with partner, Vern Dettwiler, in 1969. He served as President and CEO until 1982, and as Chairman of the Board from 1982 to 1998.[1] In addition to professorships in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of British Columbia (UBC), Dr. MacDonald has served in an advisory capacity to the government and on the board of directors of numerous companies.[2]

In 2001 Dr. MacDonald co-founded Day4 Energy, a company that designs, manufactures and sells high performance solar electric modules. Day4 Energy went on to have one of the largest IPOs in Canada in 2007, at over $100 million and has since grown to almost 300 employees.[3]


Dr. MacDonald was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in November 1988 and invested in April of 1989.[4]

In 2008 Dr. MacDonald was awarded the British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) Impact Award for Person of the Year in recognition of his contributions to science and the BC High Technology Industry.[5] Day4 Energy also won the Impact Award for Emerging Company of the Year.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), founding Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute