Elihu Thomson Resistance Welding Award
The Elihu Thomson Award is sponsored by the Resistance Welding Manufacturing Alliance. It was formulated in 1985 during the RWMA's 50th Anniversary, for initial presentation in 1986 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the invention of resistance welding.

The Elihu Thomson Resistance Welding Award is awarded annually by the RWMA Committee to a living individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the technology and application of resistance welding, as evidenced by one or more of the following:*

  • Authored one or more technical papers on a resistance welding subject published in the AWS Welding Journal or any other industry-recognized publication.
  • Developed innovations in resistance welding equipment or technology.
  • Made a unique application of resistance welding in a production environment.
  • Other contributions as the RWMA Governance Committee shall deem worthy of recognition.

*Nominees may not be posthumously selected for recognition by this award. However, once selected, the award can be made posthumously.


Elihu Thomson, born in Manchester, England on March 29, 1853, was an engineer and inventor who was instrumental in the founding of major electrical companies in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.  His family moved to Philadelphia in 1858.  By 1880 he established, with Edwin J. Houston, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company.  In 1892, this merged with the Edison General Electric Company to become the General Electric Company.  Thomson's name is further commemorated by the British Thomson-Houston Company (BTH), and the French companies Thomson and Alstom.  His early companies are also involved in the history of The General Electric Company Limited (GEC) in Britain and the Compagnie Generale d'Electricite' in France.

Thomson was a prolific inventor, being awarded over 700 patents.  For example, he invented the induction wattmeter mechanism used in electric meters.  He was the first recipient of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers AIEE (now Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)  Edison Medal, bestowed upon him in 1909 “for meritorious achievement in electrical science, engineering and arts as exemplified in his contributions thereto during the past thirty years.”  Ironically, Thomson and Houston had been involved in a very public and acrimonious dispute with Edison in 1877-78 over etheric force.

He was a founder member, as well as the second president, of the International Electrotechnical Commission.  He served as acting president of MIT during 1920-1923.  Thomson died in his estate in Swampscott, Massachusetts, on March 13, 1937.