IET member and Fellow receives Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in radio wave propagation

24 November 2017
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An image of Les Barclay

IET Fellow and long-standing IET member, Les Barclay, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in radio wave propagation during the Loughborough Antenna and Propagation Conference on 14 November 2017.

Les Barclay has become the latest recipient of the IET James R. James Lifetime Achievement Award. James R. James served as President of the Institution of Electronics and Radio Engineers in 1984 and Chairman of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (the IET’s predecessor) Electronics Division in 1988.


Les started his career as an apprentice at E K Cole Ltd in their Radio Development Laboratories at the same time as obtaining an external degree at the University of London, and then moving on to the Television Research Laboratory. In 1956 he embarked on a career in radio wave propagation research and spent two years with the Royal Society International Geophysical Year Antarctic Expedition. When he returned to the UK, he worked at the Radio Research Station in Slough analysing and preparing reports on the Antarctic ionospheric studies before joining the propagation group at the Marconi Research Laboratories. During this time he developed both manual and computer-based systems for the prediction of MF and HF system performance. He became head of the ionospheric propagation section and acted as Consultant to the Local Radio Association.


In 1977 he joined the Civil Service in what became the Radiocommunications Agency (now  Ofcom). He managed the Agency’s research programme where he oversaw the National Radio Propagation Research Programme, which included the internationally recognised group at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.


From 1972 he has served on and chaired numerous meetings, conferences and study groups at the International Telecommunication Union, representing the United Kingdom and organising and contributing to CCIR studies (now ITU-R) and international standards.


He has made substantial contributions through his work with the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers (IERE), its successor the IEE (now the IET), the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), and the independent expert group on mobile phones where his expertise on radio wave propagation, spectrum management and radio regulation has helped shape the radio environment in which we function today.


He has also contributed substantially to radio wave propagation education. He led and taught a series of IEE residential courses on radio wave propagation, which ran from the 1990s until the mid-2000s. These were extremely popular and helped to fill the gap left by academic courses on radio wave propagation for an entire generation of propagation engineers both in academia and industry. The course still features in the IET book on the Propagation of Radiowaves which is now in its third edition – as the standard textbook on propagation – attracting thousands of citations over the years.


He has been awarded the OBE and the Polar Medal, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.