These Scholarships arise from a bequest from the late Professor John Moyes Lessells, an eminent mechanical engineer who emigrated to the United States of America in 1920. The first award was made in 1985, and since that time over 100 scholarships have been awarded, to allow early career engineers based in Scotland to travel and collaborate with their fellow engineers across the globe.

Professor John M Lessells was a mechanical engineer who was born in Dumferline on February 5 1888 and who died in 1961. Between the period of 1895 and 1915, he attended Queen Anne School, Lauder Technical School, Heriot-Watt College, and studied for a B.S. in Engineering, University of Glasgow. After graduating, he became an Inspector of aircraft material at the British War Office, and after WWI he worked as a spl. Engineer until 1920 when he emigrated to the USA and took up a job as a Manager in the Mechanical Division at the Westinghouse Electrical & Manufacturing Company.

He worked for Westinghouse up until 1931, and during that time was closely involved in the building of the 200-inch telescope at Mount Palomar, located in North San Diego County, California, which was one of the largest telescopes in the world for 45 years. Lessells became a naturalised US Citizen in 1930, and set up his own business, Lessells & Associates. In addition to owning the company, from 1937, Lessells became Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1925 he co-authored ‘Applied Elasticity’, with Stephen Timoshenko, and in 1954 went on to write ‘Strength and Resistance of Metals’.

It was his wish to give young engineers the opportunity to widen their knowledge and experience, and he wrote a bequest through the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to enable them to travel to other parts of the world, and to bring their knowledge back to Scotland.