Professor Les Falkingham

Les Falkingham

Phone number: 01788 568 374


I have spent the past 30 years in the high voltage part of the Electrical Supply Industry working for equipment manufacturers. Much of the time was spent in setting up, leading, and being part of, teams performing world class Industrial Research and Development. This was recognised by the personal awards of the Nelson Gold Medal from GEC in 1996, the J J Thomson Medal from the IEE in 2002, Fellowship of the IEEE in 2007 and the International Electrotechnical Commission, IEC 1906 award for outstanding contribution over many years to the development of international standards on electrical switchgear, both as an active member of Maintenance Teams and as a member of the appropriate UK National Committee (IEC 1096 award).

Present activities include;
  • Performing R&D on vacuum switchgear and Research on arc physics/ discharges in vacuum.
  • International standards development for BSI, IEC, and ANSI/IEEE in the field of high voltage switchgear as member or chair on a number of Working Groups and Maintenance Teams.
  • Secretary of CIGRE A3-27, a study group working on the implications and impact of vacuum switchgear at transmission voltages.
  • UK Permanent Member of the CIGRE A3 committee on substation equipment.
  • Secretary of the International Symposium on Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum (ISDEIV)
  • Chairman of the Vacuum Inner Circle of the Current Zero Club, a group of international engineers and scientists devoted to the study of current interruption phenomena.
  • Member of the IEEE Switchgear committee.

  • BSc (Hons) in Combined Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Lanchester Polytechnic (UK) 1978
  • PhD, Cranfield University (UK) 2002
  • Former Visiting Fellow of Cranfield University (UK)
  • Invited Lecturer Xi’an Jaiotong University (Xi’an China), 2004 - 2010. 
  • Visiting Professor, Aston University, 2010
  • Vacuum Interrupters Limited (VIL), Rugby, 2005 – present; Managing Director.
  • Areva T&D Products, Paris, 2003 - 2005; Technology Director MVB.
  • ALSTOM T&D Medium Voltage Business, Paris, 2001-2003; Technology Director
  • GEC Alsthom/ALSTOM, Rugby, 1990-2000; Technical Director; Created and then led the ALSTOM World Centre of Excellence for Vacuum Switching Technology, and designed the next generation of vacuum interrupters. In addition was heavily involved with the ALSTOM vacuum interrupter plant in Calcutta, India.
  • GEC South Africa, 1988-1990; designed and built a new factory near Johannesburg to manufacture a new range of the vacuum interrupters which I had designed. 
  • Vacuum Interrupters Limited, London, England 1978 -1988; Performed R&D, and designed and developed vacuum interrupters, finally ending up as Engineering Manager. 
Specialist Lecturer on the Power Foundation Degree course

  • All aspects of vacuum interrupter technology, and switchgear design & manufacture
  • National and International Standards development
  • R&D Management & Technology Strategy and in particular the optimisation of Industrial R&D. 
  • Chartered Engineer (C.Eng) 1985
  • Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) 1987
  • Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE - now IET) 1988
  • European Engineer (Eur. Ing.) 1989, conferred by FEANI the European Federation of National Engineering Bodies 
  • Fellow of the Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 2007
  • L T Falkingham, R Reeves, C H Gill, S Mistry “Studies in Inverse Magnetron Discharges of Vacuum Interrupters: Part 2 Variations in Magnetic Field. Proceedings of ISDEIV, Braunschweig, 2010.
  • L T Falkingham, R Reeves, C H Gill, S Mistry “Studies in Inverse Magnetron Discharges of Vacuum Interrupters: Part 1 Variations in Electric Field. Proceedings of ISDEIV Bucharest 2008
  • L T Falkingham, M Waldron “Vacuum for HV applications - Perhaps not so new? - Thirty Years Service Experience of 132kV Vacuum Circuit breaker” Proceedings of the XXII International Symposium on Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum ISDEIV, Matsue, 2006.
  • Y Zhang, L T Falkingham “Innovative Design of Vacuum Switchgear” Proceedings of the IEEE CEPSI Conference Shanghai 2004
  • L T Falkingham R Reeves  “The Four Schools of Thought in R&D Management” Research Technology Management Magazine, June 2001.
  • L T Falkingham R Reeves “Context Analysis- a Technique for Analysing Research in a Field, Applied to the Literature on the Management of R&D at the Section Level” Scientometics Magazine, Vol. 42; No 21, 1997.
  • L T Falkingham “The Design of High Power Vacuum Interrupters Without the Use of Metal Vapour Deposition Shields or Voltage Grading Shields”, Proceedings of XIVth International Symposium on Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum (ISDEIV), Santa Fe, 1990.
  • L T Falkingham. “Recent Advances in Vacuum Interrupter Design” International Conference on Large High Voltage Electric Systems (CIGRE).1984.    

Patents – a selection

  • Falkingham L T, 1984, Vacuum Switching Device GB2144916
  • Falkingham L T,1998, Vacuum Switching Device  JP10255602
  • Falkingham L T,  Parashar R, 1999, Vacuum Switching Device US6479779
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