Edward J. Way was educated at Hatcham School, London, and at the University of London. He was an articled pupil to the mining engineers Wigner & Harland and was apprenticed to Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. In 1887 he came to the South African Republic (Transvaal) as resident engineer to the Transvaal Gold Exploration and Land Company at Pilgrim's Rest, a position he held until 1892. Thereafter he held appointments as general manager of the Eatleigh Syndicate (1892); chief assistent to John H. Hammond*, consulting engineer to Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa (1893); general manager of George Goch and Metropolitan Companies (1894); general manager of three gold mines near Benoni, New Kleinfontein Company, Chimes West and Benoni Gold Mines (1898); consulting engineer to the Kleinfontein Group, consisting of eight gold mines (1905); consulting engineer to the Anglo-French Exploration Company (1908); and consulting engineer to New Kleinfontein Company and several other firms from 1913 to about 1927. He was a member of the Commission for the Examination of Mine Managers and Overseers in the Transvaal from its inception in 1896 to 1911. During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he served for two years as a captain in the Mines Division of the Rand Rifles and was awarded the Queen's medal. He was a member of the Benoni Health Board, president of the Benoni rifle association, a justice of the peace, and listed as his hobbies rifle shooting, motoring and photography. In November 1893 he married Katrina Carolina Berry, with whom he had one son.
In 1897 Way and two electrical engineers, Sidney P. Blackmore and R.O.G. Drummond*, developed and patented the Bladray electrical rock drill. Blackmore was the principal inventor. This percussion drill was tested in various gold mines on the Witwatersrand and was claimed to be much more economical than drills powered by air compressors. The instrument was described by G.A. Denny* and Way in the South African Mining Journal of 28 August 1897. It created considerable interest, with the result that Way read the paper before a meeting of the South African Association of Engineers and Architects on 29 September that year. The paper and associated remarks were published in the Association's Proceedings (Vol. 4, pp. 24-52). In the extensive discussions following his presentation (pp. 75-88, 101-111, 139-152, 153-155) the expected economic benefits of the new drill and its other possible advantages over air drills were hotly debated.
Way was a member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers, was awarded its Telford Medal in 1907, and served on its council around 1923. He was also a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Chemical Society, a member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, and a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers. One of his papers on mining matters, "Ore valuation of a Witwatersrand mine", was published in the Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy in 1905. Another, "Stamp-mill reduction-plant of the New Kleinfontein Company Limited", appeared in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1907. He was elected president of the South African Association of Engineers for 1914/5 and in his inaugural address, published in the Association's Journal, discussed "The economic use of workmen on the Witwatersrand". From 1903 he was a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science for several years. In 1905 he also joined the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected one of the original Fellows of the Royal Society of South Africa in 1908.