Alireza Haghighat, professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Robert E. Hord Jr. Professorship of Mechanical Engineering was established by a gift from the late Robert E. Hord Jr., who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a master’s degree the following year, both from the College of Engineering. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Virginia Tech’s chemical and mechanical engineering programs.

The professorship acknowledges and rewards faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who have shown exceptional merit in research, teaching, and/or service. Recipients hold the position for a five-year term.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2011, Haghighat is an internationally known researcher, educator, and leader in the field of nuclear science and engineering. During the past 35 years, he has made significant contributions in the areas of particle transport methods and their application in nuclear power, nuclear security, and nuclear medicine.

Haghighat has mentored a productive group of Ph.D. students who are making important contributions to nuclear education and research at universities and in national laboratories and nuclear industry. He has led the establishment of the Virginia Tech nuclear engineering program; a graduate certificate in nuclear science, technology and policy in collaboration with the Department of Science, Technology, and Society; an accelerated Master of Engineering in nuclear engineering for the U.S. Naval Academy; and the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium, a nonprofit organization for promotion of advanced nuclear technology for carbon-free electricity generation in Virginia and beyond.

Haghighat has secured more than $4 million in research grants during his time at Virginia Tech, with his total research funding exceeding $12 million in his academic career. He has published more than 280 papers, delivered 116 invited talks internationally, and mentored 42 graduate students, including 17 Ph.D. students. He also published two editions of a textbook titled “Monte Carlo Methods for Particle Transport” that is being used at several peer institutions nationally and internationally. His publications are highly cited, and novel particle transport methodologies developed by his group have been applied for simulation of nuclear systems.

An active member of the American Nuclear Society, Haghighat has served in several leadership positions, including chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization, chair of the Mathematics and Computation Division, chair of the Reactor Physics Division, co-chair of Computational Medical Physics Working Group, and chair of the ANS 19.10 Standards Committee.

Haghighat is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society. He received the 2011 Radiation Protection and Shielding Division Professional Excellence Award for his outstanding contributions to deterministic, Monte Carlo, and hybrid particle transport methods and codes. He was recognized in 2009 by the Department of Energy for his leadership and contributions to design and analysis for the University of Florida Training Reactor's HEU to LEU fuel conversion.

Haghighat received his bachelor's degree in physics from Pahlavi (Shiraz) University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Washington.

Related stories

Virginia Tech awarded Nuclear Regulatory Commission Integrated University Program grants

Virginia Tech, U.S. Naval Academy join in research and educational partnership

Nuclear reactor expert discusses ways to prevent Fukushima-like damage with scientists in Japan

Share this story