IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal

Funding area: Prizes and Medals

The James Clerk Maxwell Medal is awarded jointly by the RSE and the IEEE for groundbreaking contributions that have had an exceptional impact on the development of electronics and electrical engineering or related fields.

The annual prize is named in honour of James Clerk Maxwell, the outstanding 19th Century Scottish mathematician and physicist. Maxwell was a prominent Fellow of the RSE, whose theories led to profound changes in understanding the relationship between electricity and magnetism. This in turn ushered in many world transforming technologies in electronics, electrical engineering and communications.

First awarded in 2006, the Maxwell medal has been supported in previous years by the Edinburgh-based electronics firm Wolfson Microelectronics plc.

Fund deadline passed

This fund is currently closed for applications.

This award is administered by the IEEE Awards Board.

Recipient selection is performed by a joint IEEE/RSE Selection Committee which is administered by the IEEE Awards Board.

The award is open to anyone who has made groundbreaking contributions to the electronics or electrical engineering fields.

Nominees are not required to be members of either the IEEE or the RSE.

This award may be presented each year to an individual, team or multiple recipients up to two in number.

It is expected that the recipient of the IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal will, within the first year subsequent to the receipt of the award, make a presentation in Scotland about his/her work.

Fellows are encouraged to propose those who will maintain the very high standard of this award for work that builds upon Maxwell’s fields of interest. Nominations will be considered by a joint Selection Board.

Nominations will not be accepted from the IEEE Board of Directors, the RSE Council, the IEEE Awards Board, the Award Selection Committee, and employees of the IEEE and RSE.


2018. Thomas Bryn Haug and Philippe Raymond Dupuis, both Former Chairman, Special Mobile Group, CEPT/currently ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute).

For leadership in the development of the first international mobile communications standard with subsequent evolution into worldwide smartphone data communication.

There were no awards in 2017

2016. Distinguished Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Hinton, University of Toronto, Canada and Distinguished Researcher, Google, Inc.

For pioneering and sustained contributions to machine learning, including developments in deep neural networks.

2015. Professor Lynn Conway, University of Michigan, USA

For contributions to and leadership in design methodology and pedagogy enabling rapid advances and dissemination of VLSI design tools and systems.

2014. Professor Sir David Payne CBE FRS, Director of the Optoelectronics Centre, University of Southampton, UK

For ground-breaking contributions to optical fibre technologies and their application to optical communications.

2013. Professor Richard Muller and Professor Richard White, both of the University of California, USA

Both for pioneering innovation and leadership in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology.

2012. Gerhard Sessler. Professor, Darmstadt University of Technology, Darmstadt, Germany

For pioneering contributions to electroacoustic transducers, the development of silicon microphone technology, and seminal work on electroactive materials.

2011. Marcian Edward Hoff. Chief Technologist (Retired), Teklicon, Inc.; Los Altos Hills, CA, USA

For developments in programmable integrated circuitry for a wide range of applications.