John “Jack” Donahue '56

Surveying Engineering Technology

Jack DonahueI started my connection to OTI (Oregon Institute of Technology) when I was a junior in high school in Albany, OR. An older friend, who had already started the Surveying Program at OTI, reviewed the program with me. The point I picked up on was that surveying, after completing the two-year program, would provide me a valuable skill that could assist me in further education and a better financial future.

During my senior year in high school I took all the math and science I could to support my OTI plan, enrolling at OTI in 1954 in Surveying Technology. I was also able to take some classes in structural design at OTI, which proved valuable. My first summer work was with the Department of Forestry, State of Oregon. During the completion of my second year at OTI, I experienced part-time work in actual field surveying which was a good beginning. After graduating form OTI, I immediately went to work for the City of Albany Engineering Dept. as an engineering technician doing surveying and drafting. After four years I took a job advancement with the City of Portland as an Engineer I, again doing field work and design drafting. I was also able to continue my education by taking college courses at night along with on-the-job short schools.

During my years with Portland, I was drafted into the Army and due to my education and work experience I was deployed to the Army Engineering School, Fort Belvoir, VA. There I was assigned to the Polar Research and Development Commission to supply engineering support in building a large scientific community at the northern tip of Greenland. This was to facilitate scientific study in the Arctic as part of the International Geophysical Year of 1960. The construction and design were very unique as this was the most northern land mass near the north pole. We designed a community to support 1,000 scientific and military staff accomplishing construction never before built under those conditions. During the coldest winter weather we returned to Fort Belvoir (Washington DC area) as the weather in Greenland to too severe to do construction work. During this winter period our small technical unit assisted in an Antarctic study being conducted by the Army. One of the most interesting jobs I undertook was to take field data and prepare what was probably the first area computation and mapping of the Ross Ice Shelf.

After my discharge from the Army I returned to work for the City of Portland. I further advanced my experience by taking a position with the City of Springfield doing major stormwater system design and construction. During these years I became a Registered Land Surveyor and a Professional Civil Engineer. My professional experience continued with the City of Oregon City as City Engineer. Further advancement came as the Public Works Director and City Engineer with the City of Bend. and with the City of Roseburg as Water Utility Director. I completed my 38 years of full time technical work beginning with OTI and ending with the State of Oregon, Water Resources Department, retiring in 1994.

Beginning in the year 2000 and continuing today, I am working part-time for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responding to national disasters to administer the reconstruction of damaged public facilities.

Jack can be contacted at or 360-427-4447.