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Intensive Course on Electrical Contacts, Sept 19-22, 2012

Announcement : Class starts at 8AM on September 19.

The 2012 course will be held in Portland, Oregon, at the Double Tree Hotel from September 19 to September 22 prior to the IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts. Below is the course background.


Dear Colleague,

I am writing to tell you that the IEEE Holm Conference will again be hosting the Intensive Course Electrical Contacts. In 2012 Dr. Paul Slade and Dr. Roland Timsit both of whom are considered world-class experts in the field will be the Course lecturers; each has made major advances in the understanding of electrical contact phenomena. In fact both have received the Ragnar Holm Scientific Achievement Award in recognition of their scientific contributions to the subject.

The 2012 Intensive Course has been completed revised to reflect recent needs in understanding very low contact force phenomena and the effects of high frequency currents. While doing this, the Course still covers the broad range of electrical contact situations, from very low currents that are seen in electronic circuits, to medium currents (e.g. household level values) to currents expected in distribution circuits: listed below are examples of typical topics:

o   Making contact and surface finish effects

o   Making connections and connector design [low and high current]

o   Switching contacts ac and dc design considerations [low and high current]

o   The effects of arcing on contacts, erosion, welding and contamination

o   Contact materials for connectors and for switching contacts

o   Contact finishes

o   Contact lubrication

o   Contact failure mechanisms and how to analyses them

o   Corrosion and the effects of ambient environments

o   Elements of switch design

o   Elements of connector design

The Course includes class problem-solving exercises so that participants will learn how the Course material can be applied. A participant in this Course will thus leave the sessions with a thorough and broad knowledge of the subject. The four days allows our teaching approach to include practical examples of a wide variety of contact use. It also gives practicing engineers detailed knowledge of contact technology to resolve their own practical design problems.

In 2012 we have again decided to link the Course more closely to the IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts by holding the Course the 4 days before the Conference. Thus the Course will run from Wednesday September 19 to Saturday September 22. The Conference begins on Monday September 24. We are doing this for two reasons:

  1. There has been a persistent request by the Conference participants for an in-depth review of the complete subject of Electrical contacts. This is not possible in a 3-day Conference where the latest scientific studies are being presented. Thus we thought that if we presented the Course just ahead of the Conference it would satisfy this need. It will also give those who are new to the subject an excellent grounding in the subject that will enable them to participate more fully in the Conference.
  2. The Intensive Course has been extended from 3-days to 4-days in order to expand the course’s content, to give the participants more time to interact with the lecturers and to allow time for a more in-depth discussion of specific topics 
  3. Although this means working on the Weekend, it does give participants some leverage when requesting time to attend the Course in these times of strict budget guidelines and budget restrictions in Engineering Departments.


Each participant will receive the full lecture notes plus the 1000 page book Electrical Contacts: Principles and Applications that was published in 1999. One important aspect of the course will be the 3 sessions where the participants can ask about their own real world problems or their own unique questions. The Lecturers will address them and also lead any discussion of them that may arise from the other participants.

Over the past 30 years the course has continually evolved to ensure that it remains relevant to the contact problems of the day. I believe that if you send your new engineers and your engineers who are new to the subject of electrical contacts, they will benefit enormously.


Of course I am always available to answer any questions you may have about this course.

My very best wishes,


Paul Slade, (

Director of the Intensive Course on Electrical Contacts


2012 Course Agenda

Wednesday, 19 September:  Day 1

Morning Starts at 8AM

·  The Electric Arc, Formation & Properties, Circuit Interruption


The Electric Arc , Contact Erosion and Contact Welding


·  Q & A Session


Thursday, 20 September:  Day 2



·  Contact Fundamentals


·  Contact Fundamentals – continued

·  Contact Materials for Arcing Contacts

·  Electroplates and Surface Finishes


·  Q & A Session


Friday, 21 September:  Day 3



·  Wear and Contact Degradation

·  Lubricants in Connectors

·  Corrosion in Electrical Connectors


·  Non Arcing Power and Semi-Permanent Power Connectors

·  Failure of Arcing Contacts and Power Connectors

·   Q & A Session


Saturday, 22 September:  Day 4



·  Electrical & Electronic Connector Design

·  Specific Designs: Separable Connections

·  Crimp Connections

·  Afternoon

·  Switching Contact Guidelines

·   Q & A Session





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  July 9, 2012

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