Lindsay Burnet (1855-1895) was the second son of the famous architect John Burnet and the founder of Lindsay Burnet & Co, mechanical engineers. His early death prompted his family to found a medal to his memory, and also as a memorial of the respect which he entertained for Archibald Barr, the Professor of Civil Engineering and Mechanics and fellow industrialist.
The medal was designed by the famous sculptor and craftsman Sir George James Frampton (1860-1928). It was originally awarded for a thesis descriptive of research on the properties or the utilisation of fuel, the generation or properties of steam, the principles of thermodynamics, or the operation of heat engines. It was offered to Engineering research students between 1902 and 1953 but was rarely awarded such was the strict nature of its terms and conditions.