Intensive Course on Electrical Contacts

Read the Letter From Paul Slade, Director of the Intensive Course on Electrical Contacts.

World-class expert lecturers

The Intensive Course will be hosted at the 66th IEEE Holm Conference in Oct 19-23, 2021. Drs. Jackson (Contact fundamentals & fretting), Martens (Corrosion & contact degradation), Coutu (Switching low currents & MEMS switches), Slade (The electric arc, circuit interruption & the effect of arcing on switch performance), McBride (Switch design & switch contact materials), and Timsit (design & failure of electrical connections), each of whom are considered world-class experts in their field, will be the Course lecturers; each has made major advances in the understanding of electrical contact phenomena. Three have received the Ragnar Holm Scientific Achievement Award in recognition of their scientific contributions to the subject.

Intensive Program

The 2018 Intensive Course has been completely 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. automobile and household level values) to currents expected in distribution circuits: listed below are examples of typical topics:

  • Making contact and surface finish effects
  • Making connections and connector design [low and high current]
  • Switching contacts ac and dc design considerations [low and high current]
  • The effects of arcing on contacts, erosion, welding and contamination
  • Contact materials for connectors and for switching contacts
  • Contact finishes
  • Contact lubrication
  • Contact failure mechanisms and how to analyses them
  • Corrosion and the effects of ambient environments
  • Elements of switch design
  • 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 2021 we will again to link the Course 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 October 19 to October 23. The Conference begins on October 24.

Each participant will receive the full lecture notes plus the 1200 page book Electrical Contacts: Principles and Applications (2nd Edition) that was published in 2013. 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 40 years the course has continually evolved to ensure that it remains relevant to the contact problems of the day.