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IET Achievement Awards

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IET Achievement Medals


The IET Achievement Medals are awarded to individuals who have made major and distinguished contributions in the various sectors of science, engineering and technology.

The judging panel will look for outstanding and sustained excellence in one or more activities, for example, research and development, innovation, design, manufacturing, technical management, promotion of engineering and technology.

Up to five Achievement Medals are awarded each year, to individuals for excellence in any area of engineering, technology or applied science.


2019 winners

Computer engineering

Mike Burrows  

Achievement Medal for computer engineering to Dr Michael Burrows BSc PhD FRS for his outstanding contributions to lossless data compression through inventing the Burrows-Wheeler compression algorithm. He is also recognised as one of the creators of AltaVista, one of the earliest web search browsers and engines. He introduced indexing and search methods to allow fast and accurate location of web pages.

His work has benefited millions of early web users to navigate, search, and locate content on the web. Dr Burrrows is a distinguished engineer and is now actively contributing to Google's distributed computing platforms, addressing distributed storage, parallel computing, security and privacy issues. He is based at Google Inc., California, USA.


Financial technology

Terrie Smith  

Achievement Medal for financial technology to Terrie Smith for revolutionising the approach to delivering payment accounts and enabling virtually any object to support contactless payments. As a senior manager of a global digital products team at Mastercard, she was a key architect of Apple Pay, which now has over 25 million users. In 2014, Terrie started DIGISEQ Ltd, the first company to globally enable both tokenised and prepaid payments within everyday accessories for the public.

In 2019 ABN Amro partnered with her venture to become the world’s first bank to allow contactless payments via wearables. DIGISEQ Ltd guaranteed the provenance of each Golden Globe trophy at this year’s ceremony via real-time provisioning of award details into an NFC chip within the trophies. This is paving the way for companies to protect high-value products from counterfeits without the need for blockchain. Terrie is CEO of DIGISEQ, based in the UK.


Silicon photonics

Richard Soref  

Achievement Medal for silicon photonics to Dr Richard Soref PhD FIEEE FOSA FIOP FAFRL FNAI for seminal contributions over a 50-year career to the science and technology of semiconductor group IV photonics, in particular, for founding the field of silicon photonics that today underpins the fibre-optic communications infrastructure of the internet. Dr Soref is credited with founding the field of silicon photonics.

Most practical modulators and switches today are based on his free carrier discovery: “electrooptical effects in silicon” which has been cited over 1000 times. Many of Dr Soref’s contributions are world firsts, such as the mid infrared, LWIR and THz extensions of Si-based integrated optoelectronics. Dr Soref’s contributions have spawned an industry that is known today as CMOS photonics in a foundry. With his collaborators and individually, he has made a tremendous impact upon the global photonics community.



Aruna Sundararajan  

Achievement Medal for telecommunications to Aruna Sundararajan for spearheading the National Optic Fibre Network Project under the Digital India Programme - a programme geared towards making India a digitally empowered economy.

This was the largest connectivity project in the world, with a budget of three billion USD, with the aim to provide minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps and to connect 250,000 village units across India.

Aruna Sundararajan is India’s Telecom Secretary and one of the most senior civil servants of the Indian Administrative Service. Ms Sundararajan is currently leading the 5G roll out in India and working towards making it accessible rather than elitist. She is transforming the telecommunications landscape in India.



Related link

List of  Achievement Medal recipients (PDF)