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1940 - 2022


Noel Charles MacDonald


Join Us Virtually


Noel's Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 11, 2022
1:00 PM EDT

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Life Story

Noel Charles MacDonald passed away at age 81 on May 18, 2022 in Boynton Beach Florida. He was born December 31, 1940 to Daniel Stuart and Rose Marie MacDonald in San Francisco California. He is survived by his wife Karen and his four children, Gina, Heather, Tyler, and Sara, his two grandchildren Rose and Conor, his two sisters Dolores Bagshaw and Patricia MacDonald and his many loving nieces, nephews, and extended family. Noel was preceded in death by his mother Rose and father Daniel as well his two brothers Daniel and Kenneth.


Noel received his Bachelor of Science, Masters of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley.  Noel worked at Rockwell International Science Center then joined Physical Electronics as an entrepreneur and held multiple management positions.  He attended Harvard Business Schools program for Management Development.  Noel worked at Perkin Elmer in multiple management positions. Noel was a professor of Electrical Engineering at Cornell University from 1984-2000.  While at Cornell he served as Chairman of the department and as the Lester B Knight director of the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility. Noel spent two years in the Electronic Technology Office of the Advance Research Projects Administration (DARPA). Noel then moved to the University of California Santa Barbara where he served as both Chair and as a Professor of Materials until retiring in 2008. Noel authored over 100 publications and book chapters and he holds over 60 patents. He received several awards and helped start multiple companies. Noel was elected into the National Academy of Engineering in 2000 for his contributions to the development of the Scanning Auger Microprobe and micromachined micro-instruments.  Noel always lived the saying “choose a job you love and never work a day in your life.”  He credited his success to hard work, a good education and strong collaborators.  Noel broke barriers with his ability to think outside the box beyond traditional boundaries.  His creativity and his ability to bring these ideas to the surface and result in innovative products moved him to a select group of scientists as evidenced in his election to the National Academy Of Engineering.

Noel loved California, specifically his hometown San Francisco and Santa Barbara but always enjoyed traveling with family as long as there was an ocean.  He was an avid collector of Lionel trains and enjoyed skiing, windsurfing, boating and long dog walks in the park.  Noel enjoyed taking his daughters to his favorite restaurant, Outback. Noel’s legacy lives on through his children and his students and postdocs he mentored. Noel was particularly passionate about helping people be the best versions of themselves. Noel was full of life, a humble man.  He looked forward to large family gatherings, he dearly loved his wife and family. Noel appreciated everyone’s worth.  He was not motivated by recognition.  Noel’s motivation was to help people, create new products and contribute to his country. Noel wanted his children to think for themselves, work hard, have integrity and show up for family.  


Noel will always be remembered as an honest, loyal, trustworthy, kind man.  The twinkle in Noel’s eyes and his resounding laugh that could easily be heard in the next room will always be remembered by his family, friends and colleagues.  

Guest Book

Leave your memories, condolences, or well-wishes.


Donations in Noel’s memory may be made to:

UC Berkeley’s Transfer Pre-Engineering Program (T-Prep)

T-Prep supports community college students transferring to Berkeley Engineering.

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