Peter Lawrenson

Peter Lawrenson
United Kingdom
Associated organizations
Fields of study
Electrical machines
IEEE Edison Medal, Faraday Medal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, ESSO Energy Gold Medal of The Royal Society, J.A. Ewing Gold Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers


Dr. Peter Lawrenson is widely known as the father of the switched reluctance (SR) drive. SR drives, the only radically new family of machine drives in a century, operate entirely on magnetic attraction, and offer an ideal fit for the electronically controlled drive systems used throughout industries and products today.

Initially, Dr. Lawrenson’s new concepts were regarded by some experts as heretical but, over time, the evidence became irrefutable. After demonstrating major advantages over traditional motors, he left his post as dean of engineering at the University of Leeds to create a global business that spawned SR applications in market sectors ranging from automotive, household, mining and textiles to earth-moving equipment, industrial pumps, medical equipment and high-performance servo systems. This business, SRD Ltd., was later acquired by Emerson Electric Company of St. Louis. Missouri.

Previously, Dr. Lawrenson had invented and had brought to the market greatly improved synchronous reluctance motors (and precursor to SR). Also, he headed a major international study of stepping motors and systems, which led to greater understanding of their critical operating factors, such as damping, resonance and stability, and to advances in their design. He is co-author of a master reference text on electromagnetic field solutions, “The Analytical and Numerical Solution of Electric and Magnetic Fields.”

An IEEE Life Fellow, Dr. Lawrenson is the recipient of the Faraday Medal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the ESSO Energy Gold Medal of The Royal Society and the J.A. Ewing Gold Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was president of The Institution of Electrical Engineers from 1992 to 1993. Dr. Lawrenson is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and The Royal Society in London.

Peter Lawrenson was awarded the 2005 IEEE Edison Medal “For outstanding contributions to the field of electrical machines, most notably the development and commercialization of switched reluctance drives”