John Donald

School of Engineering
Phone number: 
(519) 824-4120 ext. 53084
THRN 2503
Seeking academic or industry partnerships in the area(s) of: 
Engineering Leadership Development, Interdisciplinary Engineering Design and professional skill development, Technological Stewardship, and Sustainable Design.
Available positions for grads/undergrads/postdoctoral fellows: 
Enquire by email

Education and Employment Background 

Professor John Donald joined the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph in 2013. He received his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1993 and obtained his professional engineering designation in 1994. He has ten years of experience working in industry as an engineer and senior manager, including seven years at an international environmental engineering consulting firm and three years in technology startups. John’s work in academia started in the Ontario college system where he worked in progressively senior academic positions including Dean, and Vice-Presidential roles.  

Research Themes 

John focuses on Engineering Education research related to the role of engineers in society in the context of engineering practice and the culture of engineering education; and on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the context of engineering design education. He is particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms that support the capacity of engineering students to become successful engineers, to develop strong design skills, and to take on leadership roles in engineering and beyond. Key areas of focus include: 

  1. Leadership and management in the engineering context: Looking at the engineering accreditation framework and theories of leadership and management practice, this work explores how engineering curriculum can be developed and delivered such that leadership and management competencies are concurrently developed with technical skills as part of the engineering mindset. 
  2. Interdisciplinary engineering design: To address societal challenges, engineers must work in interdisciplinary teams to design appropriate and relevant solutions. This work explores appropriate pedagogy to develop professional skills, reflective practice, and inclusive and effective teams in the context of interdisciplinary engineering design. 
  3. Technology stewardship in engineering. In the context of the Engineering Grand Challenges and UN Sustainable Development goals, this work explores approaches to building opportunities for students to engage with the grand challenges in a meaningful way. 


  • Guelph Engineering Leadership Program, 2020-2024 (
  • University of Guelph Faculty Association (UGFA) Innovation in Teaching Award, 2022 
  • Guelph School of Engineering Undergraduate Design Maker Space, DENSO Foundation, 2020 
  • Fellow, Canadian Engineering Education Association, 2019 (
  • Director, Physical Science and Engineering Education Research (PSEER) Centre, 2019-20 
  • President, Canadian Engineering Education Association, 2017-18 (

Media Coverage

Ontario Engineering Competition

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences: U of G Hosts OEC