Tanner Hall, a Nuclear Engineering Ph.D student with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was awarded one of 22 prizes for student publications for the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Fuel and Supply Chain. Hall’s award-winning research paper, “Computational and Experimental Optimization of 135Xe Production in Calibration Sources,” was published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity in April 2022.

The Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program is designed to award graduate and undergraduate students for innovative nuclear technology relevant research publications, demonstrate the Department of Energy’s commitment to higher education in nuclear-technology-relevant disciplines, and support communications among university students and Department of Energy representatives.

The Department of Energy has long recognized that university students are an important source of cutting-edge advancements, and a key component in meeting its long-term goals. The Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards program was developed for this purpose.


A group of eight university Vice Chancellors from Pakistan recently spent a week training at the University of Utah as part of the Higher Education Systems Strengthening Activity (HESSA) — a USAID-funded, U-led project. During their one-week visit in July, the education leaders toured U facilities and learned more about U.S. university management.

Pakistan’s population is the youngest it’s ever been, with about two-thirds of the total population under 30 years of age, according to the UNDP Pakistan’s National Human Development Report. Readying that influx of youth for a successful transition to the job market is paramount to the country’s long-term success. However, Pakistani employers report gaps in graduate preparedness. That’s why the $19 million USAID’s HESSA project is aimed at boosting Pakistan’s higher education ecosystem and better preparing graduates to meet the needs of the modern workplace.

In 2021, the University of Utah was selected as the lead implementation partner of USAID’s HESSA, thanks in large part to the U’s experience with educational capacity building in Pakistan. Partner institutions include the University of Alabama and the Institute of International Education (IIE). Over the course of five years, the trio will work with 15 universities in Pakistan to strengthen their leadership practices; approach to curriculum, research, and industry partnerships; and student life initiatives.

“The Pakistani delegation graciously hosted our U representatives during several recent trainings in Pakistan. The team was excited to return the hospitality and welcome these Vice Chancellors to our beautiful Utah campus,” said U Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair Michael Barber, who is also principal investigator for USAID’s HESSA. “We were able to exchange ideas, showcase what makes the U a world-class institution, and continue to build partnerships that will advance the caliber of our respective universities and graduates.”

“The University of Utah has much to offer in terms of demonstrating how higher ed can evolve, respond to the moment, and truly lead-out on contemporary issues,” said Cheri Daily, executive director of the U’s Global Program Development Marketing & Communications and project manager for USAID’s HESSA. “The process of sharing will also help U leaders to reflect on how the campus continues to develop as a global thought leader.”

The July visit is the first of many trainings that will help higher education professionals witness first-hand some of the best practices in U.S. higher education management and then implement their findings within their local context in Pakistan.

While on campus, the Vice Chancellors attended workshops and meetings with U administrators, research faculty, student life professionals, and state legislators. Topics of conversation included:

  • Leading a research university in the “new normal.”
  • International research and collaboration to solve global problems.
  • Forwarding an equity, diversity, and inclusion agenda.
  • Integrating disability services across a university.
  • The benefits of technology and venture commercialization.

“This week was a great learning experience as a leader. When you see something amazing, you start believing you can do the same thing. Being at the University of Utah increased my own imagination, to aim high and think high,” said Dr. Zahour Ul Haq, Vice Chancellor at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

Dr. Saima Hamid, Vice Chancellor at Fatima Jinnah Women University echoed this sentiment. “This experience was invigorating and energizing,” she said. “The scale of the University of Utah is amazing. It was important to see how the U’s systems work. We have lots to learn and are taking home lots of ideas to implement.”

The group continued their U.S. tour with a week in Washington D.C. where they met with the Pakistani Ambassador, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Utah Congressman Chris Stewart’s office, IIE, and USAID.

Story by Vincent Horiuchi, Public Relations Associate
University of Utah College of Engineering


For Utahns old enough, who can forget the Great Salt Lake City Floods of 1983? Record-breaking precipitation the winter before led to a spring runoff from the mountains that temporarily turned downtown streets into raging rivers.

While flooding is not the worry it nearly was 40 years ago for the Salt Lake Valley, it’s still vital that scientists and policy makers understand the impact snowpack along the Wasatch Mountains has on our quality of life, not just to prevent future flooding but also to deal with the more immediate problem of drought.

Two University of Utah professors will receive up to $7 million in funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help NOAA better forecast how mountain snowpack contributes to our water supply. The U and their work will be part of a new consortium of 28 non-profit organizations, government and industry members, and partners that will research water resources and develop more accurate models for predicting catastrophic flooding. This group, the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology, or CIROH, will be based at the University of Alabama and will receive up to $360 million to support research efforts across the consortium and its partners. Brigham Young University and Utah State University will also be members of the CIROH consortium.

Civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Carlos Oroza (left) and geography assistant professor McKenzie Skiles with a remote sensing drone equipped with a lidar instrument that produces imagery of mountain snowpack. For Utahns old enough, who can forget the Great Salt Lake City Floods of 1983? Record-breaking precipitation the winter before led to a spring runoff from the mountains that temporarily turned downtown streets into raging rivers. While flooding is not the worry it nearly was 40 years ago for the Salt Lake Valley, it’s still vital that scientists and policy makers understand the impact snowpack along the Wasatch

Oroza (left) and Skiles look over lidar imagery of mountain snowpack.

The University of Utah’s research will involve combining remote aerial lidar sensors (a pulsed laser that measures distances to the Earth), ground sensors and satellite imagery to collect data on snowpack in Utah. The professors will also develop software algorithms that use the data to measure how quickly the snow melts due to factors such as atmosphere, sunlight, thermal radiation, and phase changes.

The team also wants to involve “citizen science” in the collection of data by employing people such as backcountry skiers with avalanche probes to obtain additional snow-depth readings.

“The snowpack provides the majority of surface water resources to meet local water demand, up to 80% or more, and much of what we don’t get downstream is recharging groundwater, and we want to use that water in the most efficient way possible,” Skiles says. “Developing understanding of how much snow we have and when it will melt will help NOAA provide improved predictions leading to better water management.”

Their research will not only benefit Utah but the entire western U.S. where drought conditions are severe, both say.

CIROH will advance water research in support of NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction and reinforce the work of the National Weather Service and National Water Center through collaboration across the scientific community in four broad research themes:

  • Water resources prediction capabilities.
  • Community water resources modeling.
  • Hydroinformatics.
  • Application of social, economic, and behavioral science to water resources prediction.

Additionally, CIROH will create curriculum programs across its consortium members and partners to prepare the next generation of water professionals.

“We now begin the real work of coproducing research with NOAA and other partners that will benefit society and provide learning opportunities for students for years to come,” said University of Alabama civil, construction and environmental engineering professor Steven J. Burian, who will serve as the executive director of CIROH. Burian until recently was a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Utah. “The research innovations delivered by the Cooperative Institute will improve forecasts of floods and droughts, increase efficiency of water resources management, protect water quality and empower stakeholders to make confident and timely decisions.”


Story written by: Vincent Horiuchi, College of Engineering


University of Utah civil and environmental engineering associate professor Steven F. Bartlett will be awarded the Distinguished Faculty Service Award from the U’s Bennion Center for Community Engagement. He will be recognized during this year’s university commencement on May 5.

Bartlett, who is also the associate chair of the civil and environmental engineering department in the U’s Asia Campus (UAC) in Incheon, South Korea, is one of two recipients of the award this year. The other is Professor Leticia Alvarez Gutierrez of the College of Education.

Each year, the center honors faculty members who have “demonstrated a commitment to the campus-community connection through a life of active, unpaid community service and the integration of service with research and teaching.”

Bartlett was honored for his mentoring of students, including capstone projects that engage them in real-life engineering projects that benefit the community. One such project was conducting a study of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons that looked at the impact of rising congestion in those areas. That study was then used by local communities to help plan further development of parking, trails, and other improvements.

Bartlett received his bachelor’s degree in geology and a doctorate in civil engineering, both from Brigham Young University. He has worked as an engineer for Geokinetics in Situ Oil Development, the Utah Department of Transportation, Westinghouse Savannah River Company in South Carolina, and Woodward-Clyde Consultants in Salt Lake City.

He joined the University of Utah in 2000 as an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and was appointed associate professor in 2007. He became associate chair of the civil and environmental engineering department at the U’s Asia Campus in South Korea in 2018.

The U’s College of Engineering and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering launched their undergraduate curriculum at the UAC in 2019. The core curriculum at the Asia Campus, like the one in Salt Lake City, includes classes in engineering calculus, transportation, engineering economics, strength of materials, dynamics, general chemistry and more.

Bartlett is a member of numerous institutes and associations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and the Geo-Engineering Earthquake Reconnaissance. He is also chair of the U’s Construction Engineering Committee.

His research is focused on improving the resiliency of communities and environment to natural disasters and developing green infrastructure and rapid construction solutions. His engineering projects and experience span the globe from China, India and Saudi Arabia to Italy, Norway, the Philippines and Switzerland.

The Bennion Center will make a gift of $1,000 in honor of each of the award recipients to a nonprofit or charitable organization of their choice. This gift is possible by an endowment from David M. Jabusch, professor emeritus, University of Utah Department of Communication, and Susan Jabusch.


-- Story Written by Vincent T Horiuchi, College of Engineering


A step beyond X-rays, nuclear medicine involves introducing small amounts of radioactive materials into tissues and organs to make detailed images for diagnosing and treating diseases, especially cancer.  

Unfortunately, the radioactive building blocks of these materials, called radioisotopes, are often difficult and expensive to produce.  


That’s especially true for scandium-47, a radioisotope that medical researchers say has big potential as a next-generation theranostic – a radioactive pharmaceutical that can not only diagnose disease but treat it as well. One gram of the enriched calcium or titanium needed to make scandium-47 can cost thousands of dollars, and worldwide supplies are extremely limited.  

Now, for the first time, Idaho National Laboratory researchers, along with University of Utah civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Tara Mastren, used a novel technique using high energy photons to produce scandium-47 from the element vanadium. The project is also a collaboration with Jon Stoner and John Longley from the Idaho State University’s Idaho Accelerator Center. The results are published in the journal Applied Radiation and Isotopes. 

Making radioisotopes typically starts with a different, closely related element. That so-called target is then bombarded with subatomic particles in a nuclear reactor or a particle accelerator, where it is fundamentally changed into the desired radioisotope – a process called transmutation.  

In the case of enriched calcium or titanium targets that are typically used to make scandium-47, the radioisotope produced is not only expensive and rare, but it yields a mixture of hazardous scandium isotopes that cannot be chemically purified.  

Using vanadium to make scandium-47 is not only less expensive and more widely available than using calcium or titanium targets, but it also produces far fewer unwanted, hazardous scandium isotopes.  


The research opens the door for potential use of scandium-47 as a dual-purpose diagnostic and therapeutic tool that could be especially useful for diagnosing and treating neuroendocrine tumors or prostate cancers. 

“The medical community has known for some time that scandium-47 has valuable theranostic properties,” said Mathew Snow, a radiochemist and program manager at INL who led the project. “The main problem is they haven’t been able to find a way to produce it in very large quantities. The quantities, as well as the impurities, are the two big showstoppers.” 

Snow and his colleagues made the discovery as an offshoot of radioisotope research being conducted for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. One of the group’s jobs is to produce short-lived isotopes that can be used as training materials for first responders who might need to enter radioactively contaminated environments such as terrorist attack sites or nuclear accidents.  

“One of our projects gave us very broad license to explore a variety of different reaction pathways to produce short-lived isotopes,” Snow said. “During the course of our research, we had the idea to try to generate extremely pure scandium-47 from natural vanadium. Once we demonstrated that it was feasible, we realized the breakthrough had significant potential to help the cancer therapy community.” 

Natural vanadium has several benefits over enriched calcium and titanium as a precursor to scandium-47. First, it’s relatively inexpensive. One gram of natural vanadium costs about $30, compared with between $5000 and $80,000 a gram for enriched calcium and titanium. Second, natural vanadium does not contain as many impurities as calcium and titanium.  

Throughout the research and development process, the researchers demonstrated the ability to bombard vanadium targets with energetic photons in a linear accelerator and produce samples as high as 99.998% pure. If the research moves forward for cancer therapy, a dedicated accelerator designed in the 20-26 million electron volts range would be able to repeatably produce this level of purity.  

“This research has shown that we can produce scandium-47 in very high purity, maybe the highest in the world,” Snow said. 


The technique might also be easy to replicate since linear accelerators are found in many hospitals. When combined with a chemical separation technology recently developed and patented by Snow’s team, the combined method could drastically cut down on labor costs and further improve the availability of this isotope to hospitals around the world.  

Using the combined production-chemical separation approach developed by Snow’s team, chemical purification of the scandium-47 can be accomplished in only a few hours by an entry level technician as opposed to traditional approaches, which can require up to a day or more for a highly skilled scientist to accomplish.  

The next step is to develop the radioisotope as a theranostic. For that, the group at INL is collaborating with Mastren. “Scandium-47’s short half-life and low energy emissions make it less harmful to noncancerous tissue than some of the alternatives,” she said.  

One option for clinical use is to attach the scandium-47 to a biomolecule that targets specific proteins on a patient’s cancer cells, allowing the radioisotope to go directly to the diseased tissue. This type of treatment would be tailored to an individual and his or her specific cancer. 

“It kind of acts like a mailman,” Mastren said. “It delivers radioactivity to the cancer while minimizing that dose to healthy, surrounding tissue.” 

During treatment, scandium-47 can provide doctors with a picture of what is happening inside a patient. “You can image where your tracer is going,” Mastren said. 

Clinical use will require making substantial quantities of scandium-47 for every patient in treatment. That problem has not been entirely solved yet, but recent INL research on making the radioisotope in larger amounts is promising. “We proved in principle that we could make a whole therapeutic dose,” Snow said. — Hank Hogan and Cory Hatch, INL Communications and Outreach


Congratulations to CvEEN Alum, Jim Gute, on being promoted to the position of Partner with The Land Group.

According to the press release sent out by The Land Group,

"Jim Gute is a Professional Civil Engineer with The Land Group in Eagle, Idaho. Working in the profession since 1989, Jim’s experience includes a wide range of Civil Engineering projects for municipal, institutional, commercial, private and industrial clients; including subdivisions, marine waterfront and uplands facilities, hotels, transportation infrastructure, water, sewer and storm drainage utilities, industrial sites and equipment, transportation facilities and residential subdivisions. His clientele over the years has included other engineers and engineering disciplines, architects, oil and gas companies, developers, non-profit organizations, and local government agencies. His level of experience and ability to collaborate with other professional disciplines makes him an indispensable part of the project design team.

Educated at the University of Utah, Jim gained experience working in Alaska for many years with a large engineering firm. After relocating to the intermountain west, Jim obtained additional licensure in Wyoming and Idaho and has been instrumental on many projects in each of these states.

Jim has been a member of ASCE for over 25-years and is currently contributing to the in-house internship training program at The Land Group."

Read the full press release here. 


Civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Terry Yang and electrical and computer engineering assistant professors Mingxi LiuMingyue JiArmin Tajalli are co-principal investigators on a $3.5 million project that will develop a visual-based technology system to substantially reduce the cost of cooperative driving automation (CDA).

The U.S. Department of Energy Vehicles Technology Office will fund the project as part of its efforts to decarbonize the transportation sector and enhance the infrastructure needed to support the growing adoption of zero-emission vehicles. The University of South Florida will lead the project with support from 14 industry, government, non-profit and research institutions.

CDA enables automated vehicles to communicate with each other as well as the infrastructure around them to plan ahead and make decisions that improve safety and performance. It has the potential to advance transportation efficiency, increase productivity and reduce accidents caused by human error.

Existing CDA technologies use high-frequency wireless communication. While effective, the high cost of infrastructure investment has prevented it from becoming a reality. The project team will utilize existing vehicle devices and infrastructure units with low-cost sensing technologies to address this problem. They will implement message-encoded traffic signs to communicate with vehicles without requiring wireless equipment on traffic infrastructure.

The three-year collaboration will reduce the cost of sensing, communications and computation by at least 40% and necessary infrastructure by 50%. The project also aims to limit CDA energy consumption, minimize the number of non-impaired crashes and reduce road congestion.

Because CDA requires the exchange of private information between vehicles to function optimally, the team also intends to address cyber security concerns. University of Utah faculty will develop cryptology-based technology to eliminate security vulnerabilities and prevent potential privacy leakage.

The project is one of 24 research and development projects announced by the DOE for funding. The funding will enable U faculty to hire multiple new students to work on the project. To find out more and apply, visit assistant professors LiuJiTajalli, and Yang’s labs.


By collaborating with another 14 government, industry, and research institutions, Dr. Terry Yang's proposal titled "Visual-Enhanced Cooperative Traffic Operations (VECTOR) System" has been selected for funding by the Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicles Technology Office (VTO). The project will focus on developing a visual-based technology system that largely reduces cooperative driving automation (CDA) costs by utilizing existing vehicle devices and infrastructure units. The project will be led by the University of South Florida with a $6.1M total budget ($3.5M federal share and $2.6M local cost share). Dr. Yang will lead the research efforts at the U with about $1.0M federal share.


Link to this grant:


CvEEN Students were awarded first place in The Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program at the University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs.


Read the press release below for further details.




"Winners Selected for the 2020-2021 TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs


June 24, 2021


WASHINGTON — The Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) has selected winners for its annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs. Now in its 15th year, the prestigious competition encourages students to design innovative and practical solutions to challenges at airports. Five first-place winners were chosen across four technical challenge areas: Airport Environmental Interactions, Airport Operation and Maintenance, Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions, and Airport Management and Planning.


Airport Environmental Interactions Challenge:

A team of graduate students from the College of Aeronautics at Florida Institute and Technology won first place for its proposal titled FlyKey. The students proposed a design that focuses on the implementation of technology to make the experience for the traveler convenient and safe. Faculty adviser: Deborah Carstens.


Airport Operation and Maintenance Challenge:

A team of undergraduate and graduate students from San Jose State University’s Aviation and Technology Department won first place for its proposal titled Conceptual Design of Vertiport and UAM Corridor.  The team proposed a schematic design of a vertiport with a surface footprint of 340 ft² to increase consumer benefits by increasing accessibility and operational efficiency of the vertiport. Faculty adviser: Wenbin Wei.


Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions Challenge:

A team of undergraduate students from Michigan Technological University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department captured first place for its proposal titled Graphical NOTAM Interface for Improving Efficiency of Reporting NOTAM Information.  The team developed an Electronic Flight Bag user interface that provides a graphical representation of a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and weather information to improve how pilots receive condition changes at airports.  Faculty adviser: Audra Morse.


Airport Management and Planning Challenge:

An undergraduate team from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley, tied for first place for its proposal titled High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Traffic Management Concept on Airfields: Increasing Airport Capacity and Reducing Passenger Delay.  The design proposal offered outside-of-the-box thinking to help solve the issue of airfield congestion utilizing HOV methods. Faculty adviser: Jasenka Rakas.


The second first-place winner was a team of undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Utah’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department for its proposal titled Automatic Independent Video-based Air Traffic Surveillance System (AIVATS).  The students presented a much needed and innovative design for an automatic system that would monitor air traffic at non-towered airports.  Faculty adviser: Abbas Rashidi.


In addition, teams from Pennsylvania State University and Michigan Technological University won second-place awards, a team from Purdue University won a third-place award, and teams from Purdue University, Florida Institute of Technology, and Pennsylvania State University received honorable mentions.  


Students were invited to propose innovations in any of the four technical challenge areas. The competition requires that students work with a faculty adviser and that they reach out to airport operators and industry experts to give advice and assess the practicality of their proposed design solutions. The Virginia Space Grant Consortium of Hampton, Virginia, manages the competition on behalf of the ACRP. Funding for the competition is provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.


Volunteer panels of airport industry and academic practitioners as well as FAA representatives selected the winning submissions from among the proposals submitted by 63 student teams. First-place winners will receive their awards and present their work at a virtual awards ceremony on Aug. 4. The students will also present their designs at the virtual Airport Consultant Council’s Airport Technical Workshop as a keynote presentation. In addition, they will be given the opportunity to present their winning proposal at an industry professional conference or workshop in fall 2021.  Winning teams receive $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place, and $500 for honorable mentions.


The names of all winners and copies of designs receiving place awards are available at the


New guidelines for the 2021-2022 academic year competition will be available on the competition website by Aug. 1, 2021.


The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) is an industry-driven, applied research program that develops near-term, practical solutions to airport challenges. The program is managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.  For more information, visit


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Andrew Robinson, Media Relations Associate

Office of News & Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail"


The Computer Aided Design and Engineering Lab (CADE) in the Warnock Engineering Building, a bank of high-end Linux computers for engineering students, has undergone a big hardware and software upgrade and is open for business.

The lab in room L224 in the lower level of Warnock has 75 newly upgraded Red Hat Enterprise Linux machines from Universal Systems, each with Intel i7-10700 processors, 64 GB of memory, and high-speed NVMe solid state drives. The lab is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (though access to Warnock is restricted after 10 p.m.). All 75 computers are also accessible remotely by going to

The computers are available for all engineering students to use. Popular software includes integrated circuit tools such as Cadence, Synopsys and Mentor and machine learning tools like Torch and TensorFlow. Students can also use the computers for modeling programs such as Ansys and for computing environments including MATLAB. Students can request to have other software installed on the machines by contacting the lab at

The computers now run the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 operating system, allowing students to use the latest software, said Linux Systems Administrator Zane Zak.

“CADE has by far the most computing power of any of our student labs,” he said. “If you need to run long, high-performing simulations, it’s a no brainer to run them at CADE.”

CADE is broken up into two labs, allowing instructors to reserve them separately. In addition to CADE, there are six computer labs for engineering students, including one with Apple computers and five labs with Windows machines. More information regarding these labs can be found at


Story was written by Vincent Horiuchi, College of Engineering