UW News

College of Engineering


August 15, 2018

Flying blind: How a drone can soar without using GPS

The team with their aircrafts

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new method that gives aircraft a backup system in case GPS fails: An antenna on the ground that can tell a drone where it is. The team successfully tested their system in June.


August 7, 2018

NIH awards University of Washington, partner institutions $6.5M for reusable, reproducible biomedical modeling

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The NIH has awarded a $6.5 million, five-year grant to the University of Washington and partner institutions to establish the Center for Reproducible Biomedical Modeling. The center’s primary goal is to develop more effective predictive models of biological systems, which are used in research and medicine.


August 3, 2018

UW, PNNL to host energy research center focusing on bio-inspired design and assembly

Photo by Katherine Turner.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded an expected $10.75 million, four-year grant to the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other partner institutions for a new interdisciplinary research center to define the enigmatic rules that govern how molecular-scale building blocks assemble into ordered structures and give rise to complex hierarchical materials.


July 25, 2018

And then there was (more) light: Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

an image of an experimental disk

In a paper published online this spring in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at the University of Washington report that a prototype semiconductor thin-film has performed even better than today’s best solar cell materials at emitting light.


July 2, 2018

Q&A: What can we learn from the hidden history of technology design?

Close up of the Arduino microcontroller on the quilt

University of Washington assistant professor of human centered design and engineering Daniela Rosner explores some hidden histories in technology design in her new book “Critical Fabulations.” The book highlights the idea that design stories from the past can show today’s designers how to create more inclusive technology.


June 28, 2018

UW professor and Clean Energy Institute director Daniel Schwartz wins highest U.S. award for STEM mentors

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Daniel Schwartz, a University of Washington professor of chemical engineering and director of the Clean Energy Institute, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation this week.


May 15, 2018

The first wireless flying robotic insect takes off

RoboFly in an engineer's hand

Engineers at the University of Washington have created RoboFly, the first wireless flying robotic insect. This might be one small flap for a robot, but it’s one giant leap for robot-kind.


May 3, 2018

Atomically thin magnetic device could lead to new memory technologies

A depiction of the crystal structure of chromium triiodide (CrI3), with chromium atoms shown in purple and iodine atoms in yellow. The black arrows represent the electron "spins," which are analogous to tiny bar magnets.

In a study published online May 3 in the journal Science, a University of Washington-led team announced that it has discovered a method to encode information using magnets that are just a few layers of atoms in thickness. This breakthrough may revolutionize both cloud computing technologies and consumer electronics by enabling data storage at a greater density and improved energy efficiency.


May 2, 2018

Researchers develop an app for crowdsourced exercise plans, which rival personal trainers in effectiveness

Image of a person walking

Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle University have created CrowdFit, a platform for exercise planning that relies on crowdsourcing from nonexperts to create workout regimens guided by national exercise recommendations and tailored around user schedules and interests.


April 19, 2018

Researchers achieve HD video streaming at 10,000 times lower power

Saman with a camera prototype on his glasses

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a new HD video streaming method that doesn’t need to be plugged in. Their prototype skips the power-hungry components and has something else, like a smartphone, process the video instead.


April 18, 2018

Screen reader plus keyboard helps blind, low-vision users browse modern webpages

fingers above keyboard with computer screen above

By using a keyboard to provide tactile feedback along with with a screen reader, blind and low-vision users were three times more successful at navigating complex modern webpages, similar to a typical Airbnb booking site.


March 15, 2018

With new ‘shuffling’ trick, researchers can measure gene activity in single cells

A drawing of cells being sorted.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have developed a new method to classify and track the multitude of cells in a tissue sample. In a paper published March 15 in the journal Science, the team reports that this new approach — known as SPLiT-seq — reliably tracks gene activity in a tissue down to the level of single cells.


February 22, 2018

Reducing failed deliveries, truck parking time could improve downtown Seattle congestion, new report finds

truck parked curbside

If online shopping continues to grow at its current rate, there may be twice as many trucks delivering packages in Seattle’s city center within five years, a new report projects — and double the number of trucks looking for a parking space.


February 20, 2018

Using a laser to wirelessly charge a smartphone safely across a room

Five people posing

Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time developed a method to safely charge a smartphone wirelessly using a laser.


February 12, 2018

Tissue paper sensors show promise for health care, entertainment, robotics

Glasses sensor

University of Washington engineers have turned tissue paper – similar to toilet tissue – into a new kind of wearable sensor that can detect a pulse, a blink of an eye and other human movement.


Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

A portion of the team’s experimental setup for capturing an image using a metalens. The researchers capture an image of flowers through a metalens (mounted on a microscope slide) and visualize it through a microscope.

In a paper published Feb. 9 in Science Advances, scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have successfully combined two different imaging methods — a type of lens designed for nanoscale interaction with lightwaves, along with robust computational processing — to create full-color images.


January 31, 2018

University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory team up to make the materials of tomorrow

pnnl-UW-mashup

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington announced the creation of the Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry and Technology — or NW IMPACT — a joint research endeavor to power discoveries and advancements in materials that transform energy, telecommunications, medicine, information technology and other fields.


January 24, 2018

#MemoriesInDNA Project wants to store your photos in DNA for the benefit of science – and future generations

A collage of family photographs

Researchers from the Molecular Information Systems Lab at the University of Washington and Microsoft are looking to collect 10,000 original images from around the world to preserve them indefinitely in synthetic DNA manufactured by Twist Bioscience. DNA holds promise as a revolutionary storage medium that lasts much longer and is many orders of magnitude denser than current technologies.


January 16, 2018

Researchers program biomaterials with ‘logic gates’ that release therapeutics in response to environmental triggers

four people in a laboratory

Drug treatments can save lives, but sometimes they also carry unintended costs. After all, the same therapeutics that target pathogens and tumors can also harm healthy cells. To reduce this collateral damage, scientists have long sought specificity in drug delivery systems: A package that can encase a therapeutic and will not disgorge its toxic cargo…


January 8, 2018

UW Reality Lab launches with $6M from tech companies to advance augmented and virtual reality research

One goal of the UW Reality Lab — funded with initial investments from Facebook, Google and Huawei — is to achieve telepresence, allowing one to have a lifelike conversation with a person in a remote location.

The UW Reality Lab is launching with $6 million from Facebook, Google, and Huawei to accelerate innovation in augmented and virtual reality and educate the next generation of researchers and practitioners.


December 21, 2017

UW a leader in supporting Washington’s STEM students

scholar solomon Muche

Now serving its sixth cohort of students, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship has helped more than 8,400 students attend the state’s universities and colleges. The UW has the largest number of scholarship recipients — 1,679 across all three campuses — and has seen more than 1,300 scholars graduate.


December 13, 2017

University of Washington celebrates fundraising and construction milestones for second computer science building

photo of Gates Center construction taken Dec. 8, 2017

The University of Washington celebrated two major fundraising and construction milestones on Wednesday for the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering, which will allow the UW to double its annual computer science and engineering degree production.


December 5, 2017

Making humanity’s challenges smaller and smaller: UW launches Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems

A ribbon cutting ceremony.

The University of Washington has launched a new institute aimed at accelerating research at the nanoscale: the Institute for Nano-Engineered Systems, or NanoES. The institute will pursue impactful advancements in a variety of disciplines — including energy, materials science, computation and medicine. Yet these advancements will be at a technological scale a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.


In first, 3-D printed objects connect to WiFi without electronics

UW engineers have developed the first 3-D printed plastic objects that can connect to WiFi without electronics. The attachment above can sense when your laundry soap is running low — and automatically order more.

UW engineers have developed the first 3-D printed plastic objects that can connect to other devices via WiFi without using any electronics, including a laundry bottle that can detect when soap is running low and automatically order more.


November 28, 2017

UW students win Amazon’s inaugural Alexa Prize for most engaging socialbot

The UW Sounding Board team (left to right: Hao Fang, Hao Cheng, Ari Holtzman, Mari Ostendorf, Maarten Sap, Elizabeth Clark, Yejin Choi) wins Amazon's first Alexa Prize.

A team of University of Washington students and faculty has won Amazon’s inaugural Alexa Prize, a university competition designed to produce an artificial intelligence agent capable of coherent and sustained conversation with humans.


Two UW professors elevated to IEEE Fellows

IEEE-2018

Two faculty members in the University of Washington College of Engineering have been elected as 2018 fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Tom Furness, professor of industrial and systems engineering, was honored for “leadership in virtual and augmented reality” and Siddhartha “Sidd” Srinivasa, professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, was recognized for “contributions to robotic manipulation and human-robot interaction.”


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 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 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 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 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.



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