New Faculty Member, 2022–23
Professor of Practice, Electrical engineering
It’s been 37 years since James McDonald graduated from Arizona State University with his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and now he’s excited to return to his old campus in Tempe. McDonald will begin teaching students in Fall 2022 as a professor of practice in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the seven Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He will teach classes in circuit design and oversee students’ senior capstone projects.
Before coming to ASU, McDonald co-founded Cactus Semiconductor in 2002. He considers starting and running the company with his business partner for almost 16 years to be one of his proudest accomplishments.
“It felt good to know we were creating well-paying jobs in the community and creating integrated circuits that were in medical products that literally changed the quality of people’s lives,” he says.
He sold Cactus Semiconductor to Cirtec Medical in 2018, staying on as a general manager until 2020. Since then, McDonald was looking for the right opportunity to pass on his industry knowledge to college students.
“A former industry colleague recommended I look into a teaching opportunity at ASU,” McDonald says. “It turned out to be a perfect opportunity and the perfect time.”
He says that students in his EEE 202 Circuit Design I class and EEE 488 Senior Design Laboratory class for capstone projects should be prepared to put in the time needed to succeed and make sure not to fall behind on assignments. McDonald aspires to be an instructor who is readily available to help his students and one they feel comfortable approaching.
“When in industry, I always viewed our employees and customers as partners and stakeholders invested in our mutual success,” McDonald says. “I hope to bring that approach to the classroom.”
He also wants to explore how to integrate technology into his teaching that wasn’t available while he was attending college. Both online courses and the use of technology in campus-based classes have vastly changed learning since McDonald’s college days in the 1980s and 1990s.
McDonald credits his love of science to his physicist father. Specifically, he appreciates how engineering makes practical use of science and math to solve problems.
When not working, McDonald enjoys competing in marathons and triathlons. He has run marathons in 49 states and completed seven Ironman Triathlons, which contain a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
Written by TJ Triolo