UW News

Engineering


November 22, 2017

AAAS names 8 UW researchers as fellows in 2017

Drumheller Fountain and Gerberding Hall on the UW campus.

Eight University of Washington researchers are among the 396 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced this week.


November 16, 2017

UW receives top honors from CleanTech Alliance for research and support in energy innovation, industry partnerships

People posing at an award ceremony

The CleanTech Alliance has presented the University of Washington with the organization’s 2017 CleanTech Achievement Award. The honor recognizes the UW’s dedication to research and development of transformative clean energy technologies, facilities, pipelines for startups and industry partnerships. The award was announced on Nov. 8 at the annual meeting and 10th anniversary of the CleanTech…


November 14, 2017

2 UW engineering students make Forbes ’30 under 30 in Energy’ list

Double photo

Two University of Washington engineering students were selected by Forbes magazine for its list of the top 30 people in the world under age 30 working in energy.


November 13, 2017

New tool quantifies power imbalance between female and male characters in Hollywood movie scripts

graphic showing power comparisons between Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen with Cinderella

UW researchers who used machine learning tools to analyze language in 800 Hollywood movie scripts found subtle but widespread gender bias in the way male and female characters are portrayed.


October 31, 2017

How to store information in your clothes invisibly, without electronics

Using magnetic properties of conductive thread, University of Washington researchers are able to store data in fabric. In this example, the code to unlock a door is stored in a fabric patch and read by an array of magnetometers.

UW computer scientists have created fabrics and fashion accessories that can store data — from security codes to identification tags — without needing any on-board electronics or sensors.


October 18, 2017

For $1000, anyone can purchase online ads to track your location and app use

graphic of commute where someone could be tracked via ads

New University of Washington research finds that for a budget of roughly $1000, it is possible for someone to track your location and app use by purchasing and targeting mobile ads. The team hopes to raise industry awareness about the potential privacy threat.


October 17, 2017

Flexible ‘skin’ can help robots, prosthetics perform everyday tasks by sensing shear force

photo of robot arm with skin on finger

UW and UCLA engineers have developed a flexible sensor “skin” that can be stretched over any part of a robot’s body or prosthetic to accurately convey information about shear forces and vibration, which are critical to tasks ranging from cooking an egg to dismantling a bomb.


October 12, 2017

UW names second CSE building the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering

photo of Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering under construction as of Oct. 5

The University of Washington Board of Regents on Thursday approved the naming of the new computer science building under construction on the Seattle campus as the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering. The naming of the building was made possible by gifts from Microsoft Corp. and a group of local business and philanthropic leaders who are longtime friends and colleagues of the couple.


October 6, 2017

3 UW researchers chosen for NIH High-Risk, High-Rewards program

Joshua Vaughan, Daniel Chiu and Jakob von Moltke

Three University of Washington faculty members are among those honored with an NIH High-Risk, High-Reward Research grant, which fund exceptionally creative scientists proposing to use highly innovative approaches to tackle major challenges in biomedical research.


October 4, 2017

New portable blood analyzer could improve anemia detection worldwide

Nikita Taparia stands with a microfluidic card in her hand, next to the optical analyzer.

To reduce the burden of anemia worldwide, health officials need a portable and affordable way to analyze blood. Mechanical engineering researchers at the University of Washington developed a device smaller than a toaster that can detect the level of hemoglobin in whole blood samples using optical absorbance.


September 28, 2017

Lisa M. Zurk named executive director of UW Applied Physics Laboratory

Lisa M. Zurk

Lisa Zurk, a UW aluma in electrical engineering, professor at Portland State University and program manager at DARPA, will become the eighth director of the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory.


September 25, 2017

UW to host $15.6M NSF-funded center for innovation, education in materials science

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education and training in materials science. The Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program.


September 21, 2017

Scott Montgomery makes case for nuclear power in new book ‘Seeing the Light’

"Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century," by the UW's Scott L. Montgomery with Thomas Graham Jr., was published in September by Cambridge University Press. Story is a Q and A with Montgomery.

Scott L. Montgomery of the UW Jackson School of International Studies discusses his new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear power in the 21st Century.”


Hacking a pressure sensor to track gradual motion along marine faults

closeup of instrument tip

University of Washington oceanographers are working with a local company to develop a simple new technique that could track seafloor movement in earthquake-prone coastal areas.


September 20, 2017

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

yellow board on ship deck

A hardy ocean drone made a first-ever attempt to surf across Antarctica’s stormy Drake Passage gathering data about ocean mixing.


September 14, 2017

People of color exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, power plants during 10-year period

In columns A and B, red identifies locations where NO2 concentrations were higher for nonwhites than whites; blue indicates that NO2 concentrations were higher for whites than nonwhites; and white means they were equal. In column C, red indicates that the absolute difference in NO2 concentration between nonwhites and whites increased over time; blue indicates that difference decreased over time; and white indicates no change.

A new nationwide study finds that the U.S. made little progress from 2000 to 2010 in reducing relative disparities between people of color and whites in exposure to harmful air pollution emitted by cars, trucks and other combustion sources.


September 13, 2017

UW team shatters long-range communication barrier for devices that consume almost no power

In the long-range backscatter system developed by UW researchers, this sensor uses reflected radio waves to encode and communicate information using almost zero power. It can “talk” to a receiver up to 2.8 km away.

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that devices that run on almost zero power can transmit data across distances of up to 2.8 kilometers — breaking a long-held barrier and potentially enabling a vast array of interconnected devices.


September 6, 2017

PupilScreen aims to allow parents, coaches, medics to detect concussion, brain injuries with a smartphone

photo of pupilscreen in use

University of Washington researchers are developing a smartphone app that is capable of objectively detecting concussion and other traumatic brain injuries in the field, which could provide a new level of screening for athletes and accident victims.


August 28, 2017

New app could use smartphone selfies to screen for pancreatic cancer

BiliScreen is a new smartphone app that can screen for pancreatic cancer by having users snap a selfie. It’s shown here with a 3-D printed box that helps control lighting conditions to detect signs of jaundice in a person’s eye.

A new app could lead to earlier detection of pancreatic cancer simply by snapping a smartphone selfie. The disease kills 90 percent of patients within five years, in part because there are no telltale symptoms or non-invasive screening tools to catch a tumor before it spreads.


August 16, 2017

Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity

A person walking in a straight line.

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls.


UW professor Franziska Roesner named one of world’s top innovators under 35

A professor smiling

MIT Technology Review has named Franziska Roesner, University of Washington professor of computer science and engineering, one of 35 “Innovators Under 35” for 2017.


August 10, 2017

DNA sequencing tools lack robust protections against cybersecurity risks

UW researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to remotely compromise a computer using information stored in DNA. This test tube holds hundreds of billions of copies of the exploit code stored in synthetic DNA molecules, which has the potential to compromise a computer system when it is sequenced and processed.

A new UW study finds DNA sequencing tools lack robust cybersecurity protections. In a scientific first, the team also infected a computer with synthesized DNA molecules.


July 27, 2017

Six UW faculty elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences

Suzzallo Library and Red Square on the University of Washington campus.

Six scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences.


July 25, 2017

Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?

ship that sprays clouds

A first test of humans’ ability to modify clouds would help explain the behavior of clouds and aerosols, while also testing a possible future climate emergency measure.


July 17, 2017

Material from shellfish delivers a boost to bioassays and medical tests

A close-up view of a virus

Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered a simple way to raise the accuracy of diagnostic tests for medicine and common assays for laboratory research. By adding polydopamine — a material that was first isolated from shellfish — to these tests at a key step, the team could increase the sensitivity of these common bioassays by as many as 100 to 1,000 times.


UW team develops fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes for electric cars, high-powered lasers

A coin-cell battery

University of Washington researchers have developed a fast, inexpensive method to make electrodes for supercapacitors, with applications in electric cars, wireless telecommunications and high-powered lasers.


July 11, 2017

Lip-syncing Obama: New tools turn audio clips into realistic video

Reel of Obama photos

A new machine learning tool developed by UW computer vision researchers can create realistic videos from audio files alone – including speeches by President Barack Obama.


July 5, 2017

First battery-free cellphone makes calls by harvesting ambient power

UW engineers have designed the first battery-free cellphone that can send and receive calls using only a few microwatts of power

UW engineers have designed the first battery-free cellphone that can send and receive calls using only a few microwatts of power, which it harvests from ambient radio signals or light. It’s a major step forward in moving beyond chargers, cords and dying phones.


June 27, 2017

Brain signals deliver first targeted treatment for world’s most common movement disorder

A new closed-loop deep brain stimulation system (results at right) developed by the UW-based CNSE delivers relief from symptoms of essential tremor that cause patients hands to shake (left) as successfully as current DBS methods (middle), but using far less battery life.

For the first time, University of Washington researchers have delivered targeted treatment for essential tremor – the world’s most common neurological movement disorder – by decoding brain signals to sense when patients’ limbs are shaking.


June 26, 2017

Microscope can scan tumors during surgery and examine cancer biopsies in 3-D

Photo of Adam Glaser tweaking microscope

A new UW microscope could provide real-time results during cancer-removal surgeries, potentially eliminating the 20 to 40 percent of women who have to undergo multiple lumpectomy surgeries because cancerous breast tissue is missed the first time around.


June 19, 2017

To connect biology with electronics, be rigid, yet flexible

Drawing of how chemicals can swell.

Researchers uncover design principles to make polymers that can transport both ions and electrons, which will help create new devices like biosensors and flexible bioelectronic implants


June 8, 2017

Wide-Open accelerates release of scientific data by automatically identifying overdue datasets

graph showing papers released after WideOpen

WideOpen is a new open-source tool developed at the UW to help advance open science by automatically detecting datasets that are overdue for publication. Already, more than 400 datasets have been made public as a result.


June 7, 2017

Scientists discover a 2-D magnet

A top-view depiction of a single layer of CrI3. Chromium atoms are depicted in grey, with iodine atoms in purple.

A team led by the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has for the first time discovered magnetism in the 2-D world of monolayers, or materials that are formed by a single atomic layer. The findings, published June 8 in the journal Nature, demonstrate that magnetic properties can exist even in the 2-D realm — opening a world of potential applications.


June 2, 2017

Catching the IMSI-catchers: SeaGlass brings transparency to cell phone surveillance

Image of suspicious cell site signal patterns

University of Washington security researchers have developed a new system called SeaGlass to detect anomalies in the cellular landscape that can indicate where and when cell phone surveillance devices are being used.


May 30, 2017

Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?

Photo of drone delivery

A new study finds that drone deliveries emit less climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution than truck deliveries in some — but not all — scenarios.


May 25, 2017

UW engineers borrow from electronics to build largest circuits to date in living eukaryotic cells

An artist’s impression of connected CRISPR-dCas9 NOR gates.

UW synthetic biology researchers have demonstrated a new method for digital information processing in living cells, analogous to the logic gates used in electric circuits. The team built the largest circuits published to date in eukaryotic cells, using DNA instead of silicon and solder.


May 10, 2017

Kids, parents alike worried about privacy with internet-connected toys

barbie-cropped

University of Washington researchers have conducted a new study that explores the attitudes and concerns of both parents and children who play with internet-connected toys. Through a series of in-depth interviews and observations, the researchers found that kids didn’t know their toys were recording their conversations, and parents generally worried about their children’s privacy when they played with the toys.


May 2, 2017

Period tracking apps failing users in basic ways, study finds

Screenshots of pink, flowery apps

A new study finds that smartphone apps to track menstrual cycles often disappoint users with a lack of accuracy, assumptions about sexual identity or partners, and an emphasis on pink and flowery form over function and customization.


April 26, 2017

Food photos help Instagram users with healthy eating

Image of food photographs posted on Instagram

A new study describes how some people turn to posting photos on Instagram to track food intake or to be held accountable by followers in meeting healthy eating or weight loss goals.


April 24, 2017

Scientific discovery game significantly speeds up neuroscience research process

Mozak screenshot

Mozak, a new scientific discovery game from the UW team that created Foldit, is allowing video gamers and citizen scientists to speed up a fundamental task in brain science: reconstructing the intricate architecture of brain neurons.



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