Edward Satchwell Cornwall joined the City Electric Light Company in 1913, and by 1937 had risen to be its Manager and Chief Engineer. In 1949 he became Managing Director of the company and continued in this position after the restructuring of the company as the Southern Electricity Authority in 1953.
Throughout his career as a senior executive of the electricity supply industry, he remained a very strong advocate of university training for professional engineers, and many young graduates owed him a debt of gratitude for his interest and guidance in their training and subsequent professional development.
Following his death in 1954, the E.S. Cornwall Memorial Scholarship was established by public subscription and with a contribution from the Southern Electricity Authority of Queensland. The indenture, which established the scholarship in 1955, describes the purpose of the award as follows:
As a memorial to the late E.S. Cornwall a scholarship will be established within the University of Queensland to go abroad to obtain further experience in or to undertake research in aspects of the Electricity Supply Industry.