Electricity in the service of man
Similarly, as with the Kelvin Lectures, the Faraday Lectures were delivered by distinguished scientists and engineers.
Sebastian de Ferranti, innovator in the development of electrical engineering, power generation and distribution, was IEE President in 1910-1911. He was awarded the Faraday Medal in 1924. In 1928 he gave his Faraday Lecture, ‘Electricity in the service of man’. This lecture was delivered an astonishing ten times to the IEE’s Centres around the United Kingdom, starting in London then moving to the North Midlands, Liverpool, North West, West, Sheffield, Dublin, Scotland and finishing in the South Midlands. The lecture encompassed the great and wonderfully varied uses of electricity to aid our work, leisure, productivity, travel and entertainment. Ferranti was also a great supporter of women and the need to educate them in this time-saving technology. He stated in his lecture,
“…There has arisen a new great force in the Electrical Association for Women [founded in 1924]…The Electrical Association for Women is very new, but it has already enrolled 2000 members, and, having regard to the difficulties connected with a new enterprise, I think this shows that there must be an almost surprisingly large number of women in the country who are keenly interested in matters electrical.”
Journal of the IEE January 1929 Vol 67 No 385 p. 128.
Ferranti continued to urge all electrical engineers to consider what could be done to help this new movement and to advance the mutual aim of furthering electrical education, “I certainly intend to do all I can in this direction.”
A poster in the IET Archives supports Ferranti’s (and the Institution’s) inclusiveness with the line,
“Ladies are especially invited”
Faraday Lecture poster ref. IET/LEC/01/40
Ferranti was not only an innovator, inventor, and entrepreneur, he was also a visionary. Only days before his lecture in 1928, Ferranti remarked that with the aid of wireless, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers met jointly with the IEE. He wondered if the touring Faraday Lectures would become a thing of the past, “in which the lecturer goes round personally to each of the Local Centres.” Although there were advantages to this approach,
“Nevertheless I feel that the time cannot be far distant when we shall enjoy the greater advantages of holding our meetings in common, and future lecturers will speak on one evening only, to an audience scattered throughout all the Centres of our Institution.”
It would be some years before this became a reality, but all the IET Prestige Lectures are now filmed and live-streamed for anyone in the world to watch.