UW News

October 7, 2010

Gulf oil spill, London Olympics, driver distraction to be featured in College of Engineering fall lectures

Over the next few weeks, the College of Engineering’s popular fall lectures will take a more technical look at some of the topics currently in the news. This year’s series, “Engineering in the Headlines,” offers insiders’ perspectives on this summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the upcoming Olympics, and efforts to tame driver distraction. All the presentations will be at 7 p.m. in Kane Hall, and advance registration is required.

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 120 Kane — High Pressure Crisis in the Gulf. Kicking off the series, two UW engineers will offer an inside story of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mechanical engineering Professor James Riley and Assistant Professor Alberto Aliseda are nationally recognized experts in fluid dynamics. In May they were called on by the U.S. government to help estimate how much oil was seeping from the burst pipe — a figure of intense debate during the spill, and crucial for setting financial reparations. Their presentation will provide an engineering perspective on the disaster and its aftermath.

Thursday, Oct. 21, 130 Kane — Going for the Green: London 2012. The next Olympics will take place in London, and Colorado engineering firm CH2M Hill is working with two British partners to prepare the multibillion-dollar venue. UW engineering alumnus Robert Card, president of facilities and infrastructure at CH2M Hill, will describe the massive construction effort now racing to completion. These games aim to set new records in environmental sustainability and community impact. The project in east London incorporates mass transit, waste reduction strategies and a sustainable energy center that incorporates converted mills. At the same time it seeks to turn one of the most underdeveloped parts of London into a vibrant 21st century urban village, while creating one of the largest new urban parks in Europe in the past 150 years.

Wednesday, Nov. 3, 120 Kane — Driven to Distraction. Many people are working to design safer cars. Linda Ng Boyle, associate professor of industrial engineering and civil and environmental engineering, is working to design safer drivers. As one of the nation’s leading researchers on driver distraction, Boyle addresses some tough questions. Can the existing laws against using handheld cell phones while driving ever be fully enforced? Is it possible to regulate the growing number of digital devices? How can we deal with the myriad distractions that are built into modern cars? Her research suggests that cleverly designed technology might actually help keep drivers’ attention on the road, potentially reducing the accident rate especially among young and elderly drivers. The presentation will include video from Boyle’s research.

The Engineering Lecture Series is presented in collaboration with the UW Alumni Association. All lectures are free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Register online here, or by calling 206-543-0540. All lectures will be broadcast at a later date on UWTV.