Jim McDonough, professor in the University of Kentucky Department of Mechanical Engineering, is retiring at the end of the fall semester. McDonough has taught at UK since 1990 and enjoyed a 50-year career in academia and industry.
McDonough spent his early life on small farms in central Ohio where he began driving a tractor in the fields by age eight. Immediately following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik he became interested in rockets—especially propulsion systems—and built solid-propellant rocket motors while in high school. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering with a specialty in jet and rocket propulsion from The Ohio State University in 1968.
Upon graduation, he joined McDonnell Douglas Corporation in Culver City, California as an analyst in launch vehicle propulsion. He soon transferred to a research project that employed propulsive control systems for anti-ballistic missiles. At the end of this project, he began full-time graduate studies in mathematics at UCLA and received a master’s degree in applied mathematics in 1975 while working part time for a software-consulting firm in Los Angeles. He returned to UCLA full time for his doctoral studies in mechanical/aerospace engineering in 1977, and received his Ph.D. in 1980. McDonough then began working in the Fluid Mechanics Department of the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California doing code development in computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
In 1987, McDonough resigned from the Aerospace Corporation to take a full-time adjunct assistant professorship at UCLA, and in 1990 he came to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky as an associate professor. Since then, he has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, numerical analysis and CFD. He is a member of various technical organizations, including the American Mathematical Society and the American Physical Society. McDonough’s research in numerical analysis and simulation of turbulent fluid flow has produced over 150 refereed papers in archival journals and conference proceedings.
On November 30, McDonough presented a final lecture titled: “50 Years – and Counting: A Career in the Sciences (and what is next?).” The talk outlined some of the key events in McDonough’s 50-year scientific career and concluded with discussion of McDonough’s initial retirement plans.