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IET Awards - Faraday Medal

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Faraday Medal


The IET Faraday Medal was established to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the first Ordinary Meeting of the Society of Telegraph Engineers.

It is the most prestigious of the IET Achievement Medals and is awarded either for notable scientific or industrial achievement in engineering or for conspicuous service rendered to the advancement of science, engineering and technology or for lifetime achievement in science, engineering or technology. The Award is made without restriction as regards nationality, country of residence or membership of the IET. 

Recipients of the award are chosen by the IET Awards and Prizes Committee and are endorsed by the IET Knowledge Management Board. 

The recipient will receive a Bronze Medal and vellum scroll and be invited to sign the Roll of Honour album, a leather bound volume containing the photographs and signatures of all Faraday recipients, and also IET Honorary Fellows, going back through time until the inception of these awards.

The Medal is presented at the IET Achievement Awards ceremony, which is held in November each year.  For background information on the Faraday Medal see the Fact Sheet.


How to nominate 

Members and Non members of the IET are invited to propose the names of men and women from around the world to be considered for the award of the Faraday Medal. Nominations can be made by clicking onto the online nomination form on the right hand side.

Please note only one nomination is required per candidate and self-nominations will not be accepted.


2017 winner

Image of Bjarne Stroustrup   The IET Faraday Medal has been awarded to Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of C++. Dr. Stroustrup pioneered the C++ programming language, one of the most influential programming languages in the history of computing. C++ revolutionized the software industry globally, through its versatile, efficient, and innovative abstraction techniques, including object-oriented programming and generic programming. It impacted millions of programmers and numerous industries globally, including software infrastructure, web services, telecommunications, microelectronics, scientific computing, finance, defense, aviation, image processing, music, movie making, gaming, and medical systems and allowed the development of truly remarkable technologies.


2016 winner

Image of Dr Andrew Harter FREng MA CEng FIET   Dr Andy Harter FREng MA CEng FIET, founder and CEO of RealVNC, Cambridge, UK has been awarded the Faraday Medal as his work has over many years proven to have wide-ranging impact. This includes the development of successful technology such as Virtual Network Computing (VNC), which has created new markets and brought significant economic and environmental benefits. VNC remains the most popular remote access software as well as the most ported, with over 1 billion copies on more different kinds of computer than any other application. Dr Harter is equally skilled at creating new pathways to commercialisation, pioneering open source without compromising profitability. Through his philanthropy and mentoring initiatives he is supporting others to follow his example.

2015 winner

Image of Kees Schouhamer Immink   Professor Kees Schouhamer Immink FIEEE FAES FSMPTE, is one of the most prolific inventors in consumer electronics of the late 20th century.  President and founder of Turing Machines Inc., he was Philips’ lead-engineer in the joint Sony/Philips development of Compact Disc specifications and lead-engineer of DVD and Blu-ray disc projects in the 1990s, designing both their codes. He has shaped the fundamental knowledge of constrained codes for storage media, which significantly accelerated the development of data storage technology. His authoritative monograph 'Codes for Mass Data Storage Systems' has seen three English editions, and appeared in Chinese and Japanese translations. His creativity has resulted in more than one thousand patents across the world covering all aspects of data storage technology. The US Consumer Electronics Association estimates that a Western household owns around 9.1 products that use his inventions.


See also

Previous winners from 1922 to the present day.


IET Archives Biography: Michael Faraday

Biographical information on Michael Faraday and his experiments which led directly to the modern electric motor, generator and transformer. Also includes his famous work on electromagnetic induction.


Michael Faraday (1791-1867) - his life and work


Michael Faraday next to friction wheel and apparatus. Portrait by C Turner 1839

Early life

Michael Faraday was born into humble conditions, brought up in the Sandemanian sect of the Christian Church and made his name in the scientific world, despite his lack of formal education, through his outstanding discoveries, observations and experiments. His scientific work laid the foundations of all subsequent electro-technology.

From his experiments came devices which led directly to the modern electric motor, generator and transformer.

Michael Faraday was born on 22 September 1791. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to a London bookbinder. Reading many of the books in the shop, Faraday became fascinated by science, and wrote to Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution asking for a job.

On 1 March 1813, he was appointed laboratory assistant at the Royal Institution. There Faraday immersed himself in the study of chemistry, becoming a skilled analytical chemist. In 1823 he discovered that chlorine could be liquefied and in 1825 he discovered a new substance known today as benzene.


Electromagnetic technology

However, his greatest work was with electricity. In 1821, soon after the Danish chemist, Oersted, discovered the phenomenon of electromagnetism, Faraday built two devices to produce what he called electromagnetic rotation: that is a continuous circular motion from the circular magnetic force around a wire.

Ten years later, in 1831, he began his great series of experiments in which he discovered electromagnetic induction. These experiments form the basis of modern electromagnetic technology.

On 29 August 1831, using his "induction ring", Faraday made one of his greatest discoveries - electromagnetic induction: the "induction" or generation of electricity in a wire by means of the electromagnetic effect of a current in another wire. The induction ring was the first electric transformer.


Faraday's induction ring

Magneto-electric induction

In a second series of experiments in September he discovered magneto-electric induction: the production of a steady electric current. To do this, Faraday attached two wires through a sliding contact to a copper disc. By rotating the disc between the poles of a horseshoe magnet he obtained a continuous direct current. This was the first generator.


Although neither of Faraday's devices is of practical use today they enhanced immeasurably the theoretical understanding of electricity and magnetism. He described these experiments in two papers presented to the Royal Society on 24 November 1831 and 12 January 1832. 

These were the first and second parts of his "Experimental researches into electricity" in which he gave his ,"law which governs the evolution of electricity by magneto-electric induction".

After reading this, a young Frenchman, Hippolyte Pixii, constructed an electric generator that utilized the rotary motion between magnet and coil rather than Faraday's to and fro motion in a straight line. All the generators in power stations today are direct descendants of the machine developed by Pixii from Faraday's first principles.


Later work

Faraday continued his electrical experiments. In 1832 he proved that the electricity induced from a magnet, voltaic electricity produced by a battery, and static electricity were all the same. He also did significant work in electrochemistry, stating the First and Second Laws of Electrolysis. This laid the basis for electrochemistry, another great modern industry.

Faraday's descriptive theory of lines of force moving between bodies with electrical and magnetic properties enabled James Clerk Maxwell to formulate an exact mathematical theory of the propagation of electromagnetic waves.

In 1865 Maxwell proved mathematically that electromagnetic phenomena are propagated as waves through space with the velocity of light, thereby laying the foundation of radio communication confirmed experimentally in 1888 by Hertz and developed for practical use by Guglielmo Marconi at the turn of the century.


Faraday the lecturer and educator

Faraday was also the greatest scientific lecturer of his day, who did much to publicise the great advances of nineteenth century science and technology through his articles, correspondence and the Friday evening discourses which he established at the Royal Institution. He considered it a vital part of his job to educate the public on cutting-edge science.

The Royal Institution Christmas lectures for children, begun by Faraday, continue to this day.


Michael Faraday as an old man seated at his desk

Later life

In 1865 Faraday ended his connection with the Royal Institution after over 50 years of service. He died at his house at Hampton Court on 25 August 1867. His discoveries have had an incalculable effect on subsequent scientific and technical development. He was a true pioneer of scientific discovery.

Michael Faraday and the IET

‘Faraday’ is a name of great significance in the IET. His statue stands outside Savoy Place, the London home of the IET, and his name is given to a major resource aimed at getting young people into science and engineering. We also hold an important collection of his personal papers in the IET Archives. But why is Michael Faraday so important to the IET? After all he died in 1867, four years before the Institution was formed.

Faraday’s journey from unqualified apprentice to the most famous scientist of his day, his work on the fundamentals of physics and electricity and his untiring efforts to promote science in society have ensured his legacy to the history of science and technology and the importance of his name in promoting the IET today.

Key dates


Nominations close on 18 May 2018, 17:00 BST


IET Achievement Awards:
14 November 2018, 13:00 (GMT)

Submit an online nomination

2018 online submission form             

Related links

Candidate criteria guidance (PDF)



IET Achievement Medals leaflet (PDF)

Faraday Medal fact sheet (PDF)


See also

Previous winners