Dr. Cathy Liu Earns Prestigious Educator Award

CvEEN Professor Earns 2023 Outstanding Educator Award

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is a global organization dedicated to improving transportation systems and creating smarter, more livable communities. Within this vast network, the Mountain District ITE represents the U.S.’s mountain states and recognizes outstanding educators in the field.

Dr. Cathy Liu has been honored with the Mountain District ITE Outstanding Educator Award. The annual award acknowledges educators who go above and beyond for their students. Dr. Liu’s passion for transportation education and her dedication to her students has earned her this recognition.

Her work focuses on sustainable transportation systems, including public transit, managed lanes, transportation modeling, GIS-based infrastructure management, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). Dr. Liu’s contributions have expanded our understanding of these areas and have inspired countless students to explore the transportation professions and research further.

Dr. Liu’s receipt of the Mountain District ITE Outstanding Educator Award will be recognized in the prestigious ITE Journal. Her dedication and innovation have set a high standard in the transportation field, inspiring future generations of professionals to make a lasting impact.



Pioneering Transportation Infrastructure

Utah Universities Partner to Launch Innovative Transportation Electrification Certificate Program

University of Utah is awarded around $600,000 by the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE)’s Deep Technology Talent Initiative to introduce a pioneering Transportation Infrastructure Electrification Joint Certificate Program. USHE’s Technology Talent Initiative aims to support the creation of multidisciplinary programs that would develop students’ proficiency for technology-focused job roles. This certificate program is going to be a collaborative effort pulling domain experts from two major state universities in Utah: the University of Utah and Utah State University. Dr. Cathy Liu at the UofU (program director) and Dr. Regan Zane (program co-director) at USU will be leading the effort.

The program will address critical challenges in the transition to a clean and sustainable electric power sector, particularly focusing on the integration of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy sources into the existing power grid. The move comes as the nation grapples with the need for sustainable solutions to combat climate change and, importantly to Utah, improve air quality.

With its interdisciplinary approach, the program will prepare graduates to tackle complex societal issues while adapting to an increasingly interconnected world. The curriculum covers mobility-energy system modeling, renewable energy adoption, charging solutions, and AI-enabled learning. Additionally, modules on equity, policy, and economics provide students with a comprehensive understanding of technology adoption within a societal context.

The certificate program, stackable on top of a regular graduate degree, consists of 15 credit hours and welcomes students from diverse backgrounds. Courses will be offered online and in-person, encouraging collaboration across campuses.

This program marks a big step in developing a skilled workforce for electrified transportation. Its launch showcases Utah’s dedication to shaping a sustainable future through education and innovation.



Utah Nuclear Engineering Program Relocates its Retired Reactor

The U Donates Nuclear Reactor to ISU

The AGN-201 reactor, the University of Utah’s inaugural reactor, was decommissioned in 1996, and all AGN fuel and nuclear instrumentation was transferred to Idaho State University (ISU). Yet the AGN tank remained, and occupying valuable lab space of the Utah Nuclear Engineering Program (UNEP) for over 20 years.

In November 2023, the AGN tank was finally transferred to ISU, but transporting it was a seriously complex operation. Andrew Allison, UNEP’s Reactor Operations Manager, orchestrated the logistics between Idaho State University’s reactor supervisor, the University of Utah’s project management office, and the University police. They arranged for a contractor to handle the rigging and transportation, all while maintaining the security of the facility, even with lab’s bay door open.

ISU stands to gain significantly from the AGN reactor, further enhancing nuclear engineering education. Originally built in the 1950s and 60s, AGN reactors served as a training tools for universities, shaping the first generation of nuclear engineering in higher education. Its design and fuel composition, utilizing 20% enriched U-235 in a polyethylene matrix with modest dimensions and a maximum power of 5.0 Watts, made it unique.

In contrast, UNEP’s current TRIGA Reactor is a swimming pool reactor that doesn’t require a containment building and is designed for diverse research and testing purposes. Using uranium zirconium hydride (UZrH) fuel, it boasts unique safety features, allowing safe operations up to 100kW.

With the removal of the old AGN tank, Andrew and UNEP can now repurpose the space for TRIGA reactor maintenance and other essential lab projects, ensuring the continuation of Utah’s sole Nuclear Engineering Program.