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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

The Passing of John F. McDonald

From the President's Desk

To: The Rensselaer Community
Re: The Passing of John F. McDonald

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Dr. John F. McDonald, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, on Feb. 21. He was 78.

Dr. McDonald earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from MIT in 1963, and a Master’s Degree and Doctorate from Yale University in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1969. He was an Assistant Professor at Yale University from 1969 to 1974. He joined Rensselaer in 1974 and served continuously as a faculty member for more than 45 years.

Dr. McDonald taught computer hardware design and VLSI-related courses, and conducted research on cutting-edge chip design using novel device technologies. His pioneering research in 3D integrated circuits, particularly in interconnects and device geometries, was critical to extending the lifetime of Moore’s law. 

Dr. McDonald was an active member of the Center for Integrated Electronics (now known as the Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems) since its inception in 1981. His involvement covered a wide spectrum of activities that leveraged his prior experience in digital signal processing, information theory, and error-control coding. He held numerous patents, including several that are key to 3D integration of stacked circuits.

A member of the IEEE since 1969, he was named a Life Senior Member in 2009. He was a Life Fellow of Sigma Xi, served as Associate Editor for Multichip Packaging, and was a contributor to several IEEE Proceedings special issues.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dr. John F. McDonald.