Honorary awards

Sir John Madsen

The honorary degree of Doctor of Science was conferred upon Sir John Madsen at the Science and Engineering graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall at 3.00pm on 5 May 1954, in recognition of his contributions to science in Australia.

He gave the occasional address at the ceremony.


Sir John was Professor of Electrical Engineering at Sydney University from 1920 to 1949 and for shorter periods was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, chairman of the Professorial Board, and a Fellow of the Senate. He is a Sydney University graduate.

In 1927 he founded and became chairman of the Australian Radio Research Board, which established a reputation for fundamental research equal to that of similar bodies in Great Britain and the US. It was this board which provided a nucleus of trained scientists to form the Radio Physics Laboratory of CSIRO, set up during the war. Its establishment followed a visit to England by Sir John to confer with Allied defence authorities on the initiation of suitable radar research in Australia, and it has now achieved a high international reputation.

The importance of Australian contributions to radio research were recognised when the Union Radio Scientific Internationale (URSI) held its 10th general assembly at Sydney University in August 1952. This was the first time an international scientific body had met elsewhere than in Europe or the USA. As a member of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Sir John Madsen
also took an active part in the extension of the interests of the Council from agricultural problems to those of secondary industry. He was largely responsible for the establishment of the National Standards Laboratory.

From The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 1954, National Library of Australia.