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Idaho Advanced Nuclear Energy Tech Hub Approved by U.S. Department of Commerce

MOSCOW, Idaho — Nov. 1, 2023 — The University of Idaho College of Engineering and a consortium of Idaho leaders in advanced nuclear energy innovation have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) for their ability to strengthen workforce development and the region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize and deploy technology.

U of I is part of the Idaho Advanced Energy Consortium leading the development of the Intermountain-West Nuclear Energy Tech Hub. The EDA’s tech hub designation is part of a new economic development initiative, the Tech Hubs program, to bring funding to regions across the nation identified for their high potential to become epicenters for globally competitive innovation.

Initial funding of $500,000 and official EDA designation opens opportunity for up to $75 million in additional federal funding to the state to carry out the nuclear energy tech hub’s mission.

“U of I leads decades of competitive research in next-generation nuclear technologies, advanced manufacturing, cyber-physical systems and supply chain management,” said Suzanna Long, dean of the U of I College of Engineering. “Our longstanding programs have deep connections to worldwide industry leaders. With direct access to nuclear and cybersecurity simulation laboratories and expansive online programs, we have tremendous ability to generate the advanced energy professionals needed to strengthen not only the Idaho but U.S. economy.”

U of I was recently endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its nuclear technology management master’s program. U of I is one of two U.S. universities to hold this endorsement.

U of I’s nuclear engineering program in Idaho Falls began in 1954 and was developed in partnership with Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the advanced nuclear energy leader responsible for the world’s first usable electricity generated by nuclear power and innovation in small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Idaho is host to the first micro and SMR demonstration and deployment. SMRs are known for their lower cost and improved safety and security. The reactors use energy from a controlled nuclear chain reaction to create steam, which powers a turbine to produce electricity

U of I and INL research initiatives funded by federal and state agencies include advanced nuclear energy reactors, advanced manufacturing across food-energy-water systems, cyberinfrastructure and cybersecurity, as well as biotechnology development for renewable materials production and critical materials extraction and recovery.

“Idaho is a proving ground for first-of-its-kind technologies in advanced nuclear energy,” said Chris Nomura, U of I’s vice president for research and economic development. “Leveraging U of I’s competitive advantage in research and workforce education, we have the capability to build a regional model to attract advanced technology suppliers to expand and grow incubation opportunities. This will result in great jobs that start and remain in Idaho.”

U of I is also a partner in the American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Tech Hub, led by Gonzaga University, which will focus on the development of advanced composite materials in the Inland Northwest to create lighter and more fuel-efficient aircraft at a lower cost.