Longest running industry conference at Texas A&M University celebrates 70th year

Electric Grid

The Conference for Protective Relay Engineers kicks off its 70th annual meeting at Texas A&M University this week. The event is the longest continually running industry conference at Texas A&M.

The conference is nationally recognized as a meeting place for electric utility protection engineers and manufacturers of power equipment, where ideas and best practices are shared to improve the reliability and safety of electricity delivery.

More than 300 engineers will participate in a week of technical activities including tutorials, panel discussions, paper presentations and industry breakout sessions outlining the newest protection and control technology for the electrical utility industry.

Dr. B. Don Russell, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has chaired the conference since 1988.

“The relay conference has provided a forum for electric utility engineers to discuss current problems with over 40 manufacturers,” said Russell. “Major technical developments that were introduced over the past seven decades to improve the safety and reliability of the electric power system were first presented at the Texas A&M relay conference.”

The conference began in 1948 as an informal complement to the electric meter school offered by the college of engineering. Engineering supervisors who attended the meter school met informally to discuss protection of power lines and apparatus. Since 1999, the conference was co-sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Papers presented at the conference have been archived in the IEEE Explore database and made accessible to engineers worldwide.

“In the ‘old days’ the discussions at the relay conference centered on the best way to clean the electrical contacts of an electromechanical relay in order to ensure continuity after years of inactivity,” said Russell. “Today, conversation at the relay conference often centers on the advanced functionality offered by intelligent relay devices, capability that far exceeds functions even dreamed about by early protection engineers.

“The 70th relay conference is a milestone, and we have every reason to believe that the relay conference at Texas A&M will continue, for decades to come, to be an important educational activity for electric utility protective relay engineers,” said Russell.

The conference will also address the changes that have occurred in the electric power industry, including increased concerns over reliability and a business emphasis on efficiency and cost savings. The topics of discussion at the conference include cybersecurity, advanced communications and real-time computer diagnostics.

Visit the conference webpage to learn more about the conference.