Alireza Haghighat, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the nuclear engineering program at Virginia Tech, represented the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, October 26-28, in Washington, DC. Haghighat, a subject matter expert and academic representative, was a member of the US delegation that met with government leaders for energy representing 69 countries. The topics of discussion ranged from the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, to the role of women in nuclear sciences, and energy security and the impact of dependence on foreign energy sources.

The program opened with remarks by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, and a panel of experts including William D. Magwood, IV, Director General, Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA); and Bill Gates, founder of both TerraPower and Microsoft.

The IAEA Ministerial Meeting is held once every four years, most recently in Abu Dhabi in 2017. The 2022 meeting was delayed by one year due to pandemic restrictions on travel and safety.

Virginia Tech is a member school of NEDHO, an organization representing academic schools, departments, and programs in nuclear engineering and sciences in North America. The NEDHO was created to promote collaboration and coordination among academic experts on education, research, and innovation in nuclear sciences.