UW Today

College of Engineering


September 27, 2016

Secure passwords can be sent through your body, instead of air

photo of on body system

UW engineers have devised a way to send secure passwords through the human body, instead of over the air where they’re vulnerable to hacking.


September 19, 2016

UW wins national nanotechnology startup challenge for breast cancer treatment

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Researchers at the University of Washington are among the winners of a startup challenge to shorten the transition time from lab bench to patient. The team, including members of professor Suzie Pun’s research group in the UW Department of Bioengineering, was selected based on its proposal and business plan to develop a targeted drug delivery system for breast cancer.


September 12, 2016

Graduate education in clean energy due for ‘big data’ overhaul

A sunset

Jim Pfaendtner, University of Washington associate professor of chemical engineering, is leading a new endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation to bring big data to graduate education in clean energy research at the UW.


August 17, 2016

Interscatter communication enables first-ever implanted devices, smart contact lenses, credit cards that ‘talk’ Wi-Fi

photo of three devices used in experiment

“Interscatter” communication developed by UW engineers allows power-limited devices such as brain implants, contact lenses, credit cards and smaller wearable electronics to talk to everyday devices such as smartphones and watches.


August 15, 2016

Unearthing trackers of the past: UW computer scientists reveal the history of third-party web tracking

security camera

At the USENIX Security Conference in Austin, Texas, a team of University of Washington researchers on Aug. 12 presented the first-ever comprehensive analysis of third-party web tracking across three decades and a new tool, TrackingExcavator, which they developed to extract and analyze tracking behaviors on a given web page. They saw a four-fold increase in third-party tracking on top sites from 1996 to 2016, and mapped the growing complexity of trackers stretching back decades.


July 27, 2016

Carbon-financed cookstove fails to deliver hoped-for benefits in the field

Photo of women using cookstoves in India

A study of the the first clean cookstove intervention in India financed through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism found expected benefits from newer, more “efficient” stoves — based on their performance in lab tests — did not materialize in the field.


July 21, 2016

Imaging software predicts how you look with different hair styles, colors, appearances

These examples show a single input photo (left) and Dreambit's automatically synthesized appearances of the input photo with "curly hair" (top row), in "India" (2nd row), and at "1930" (3rd row).

A personalized image search engine developed by a University of Washington researcher lets a person imagine how they would look a with different a hairstyle, if they lived in a different time period or any other appearance change that can be synthesized with internet photos.


July 15, 2016

Joseph Wartman, David Montgomery honored for Oso landslide report

headshots of two researchers

The Geological Society of America has honored two UW professors and other authors of a 186-page report on the causes and consequences of the deadly March 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.


July 8, 2016

Researchers show phone calls can forecast dengue fever outbreaks

Predictions from the research team's model about where dengue fever cases would appear based on phone calls (in red) closely track suspected dengue cases actually reported by Pakistani hospitals (in black).

A UW computer science and engineering doctoral student has helped develop a system that can forecast the outbreak of dengue fever by simply analyzing the calling behavior of citizens to a public-health hotline.


July 7, 2016

UW, Microsoft researchers break record for DNA data storage

photo of researchers

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have broken what they believe is the world record for the amount of digital data successfully stored — and retrieved — in DNA molecules by encoding, among other things, an OK Go video.


June 24, 2016

UW’s Clean Energy Institute to participate in national smart manufacturing initiative

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The University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute will partner with regional industry and academic institutions as part of the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, according to an announcement June 20 by the White House.


June 23, 2016

How well do facial recognition algorithms cope with a million strangers?

photo of images in MegaFace gallery

University of Washington computer scientists have launched the “MegaFace Challenge,” the world’s first competition aimed at evaluating and improving the performance of face recognition algorithms at the million person scale.


June 21, 2016

UW-led team awarded $1M bioelectronics innovation prize

diagram of how device works

An international team led by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) based at the University of Washington is one of three finalists in a race to produce an implantable wireless device that can assess, stimulate and block the activity of nerves that control organs.


May 31, 2016

Tiny probe could produce big improvements in batteries and fuel cells

image of nanoscale details seen by probe

A team led by University of Washington engineers has developed a new tool that could aid in the quest for better batteries and fuel cells. Although battery technology has come a long way since Alessandro Volta first stacked metal discs in a “voltaic pile” to generate electricity, major improvements are still needed to meet the…


May 19, 2016

Using static electricity, insect-sized flying robots can land and stick to surfaces

Image of flying insect robot

A new study co-authored by a University of Washington mechanical engineer demonstrates how flying insect-sized robots can land and stick to surfaces, which conserves energy and extends flight times.


May 17, 2016

UW team first to measure microscale granular crystal dynamics

Photo of slide showing granular crystals

UW mechanical engineers have for the first time analyzed interactions between microscale granular crystals — a first step in creating novel materials that could be used for impact mitigation, signal processing, disease diagnosis, or even making more controllable solid rocket propellants.


May 13, 2016

Proton-conducting material found in jelly that fills organs of sharks, skates and rays

Image of the ampullae of Lorenzini found in sharks, skates and rays.

The jelly found in the electrosensory organs of sharks, skates and rays is a remarkable proton-conducting material, with the highest proton conductivity ever reported for a biological material, UW researchers have found.


UW researchers unleash graphene ‘tiger’ for more efficient optoelectronics

Image of one of the graphene-based devices

In traditional light-harvesting methods, energy from one photon only excites one electron or none depending on the absorber’s energy gap, transferring just a small portion of light energy into electricity. The remaining energy is lost as heat. But in a paper released May 13 in Science Advances, Wu, UW associate professor Xiaodong Xu and colleagues at four other institutions describe one promising approach to coax photons into stimulating multiple electrons. Their method exploits some surprising quantum-level interactions to give one photon multiple potential electron partners.


May 11, 2016

UW researchers secure prestigious MURI grants for self-cooling lasers and fluid mechanics

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University of Washington professors Peter Pauzauskie and Alberto Aliseda are part of two U.S. Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grants to develop innovative approaches to cutting-edge fields of engineering.


Paper gets ‘smart’ with drawn-on, stenciled sensor tags

In this example, the speed of the spinning tag on the pinwheel is mapped to onscreen graphics.

Researchers from the University of Washington, Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have created ways to give a piece of paper sensing capabilities that allows it to respond to gesture commands and connect to the digital world.


May 9, 2016

This five-fingered robot hand learns to get a grip on its own

This five-fingered robot hand can learn how to perform dexterous manipulation — like spinning a tube full of coffee beans — on its own, rather than having humans program its actions.

A University of Washington team of computer science and engineering researchers has built a robot hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation – one of the most difficult problems in robotics – but also learn from its own experience.


May 5, 2016

Two-minute warnings make kids’ ‘screen time’ tantrums worse

picture of child using computer

Giving young children a two-minute warning that “screen time” is about to end makes transitions away from tablets, phones, televisions and other technological devices more painful, a new University of Washington study has found.


May 2, 2016

UW-led team wins $10M EPA grant for air pollution research

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To help address the nation’s pressing need for better air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a research team co-led by a University of Washington civil engineer a $10 million Air, Climate and Energy (ACE) grant.


New health sensing tool measures lung function over a phone call, from anywhere in the world

image of SpiroSmart being used in a Bangladesh clinic

University of Washington researchers have developed SpiroCall, a new health sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function from anywhere in the world over a simple phone call.


April 27, 2016

‘Walk-DMC’ aims to improve surgery outcomes for children with cerebral palsy

Walk-DMC is a new, quantifiable measure of motor control in children with cerebral palsy. It relies on data from electromyography (EMG) shown in this demonstration, which uses electrodes to monitor muscle activity.

A UW mechanical engineer has developed a new assessment of motor control in children with cerebral palsy called Walk-DMC, which could help predict which patients are — or are not — likely to benefit from invasive surgical interventions.


April 14, 2016

Scientists crack secrets of the monarch butterfly’s internal compass

Monarch butterflies.

Each fall, monarch butterflies across Canada and the United States turn their orange, black and white-mottled wings toward the Rio Grande and migrate over 2,000 miles to the relative warmth of central Mexico. This journey, repeated instinctively by generations of monarchs, continues even as monarch numbers have plummeted due to loss of their sole larval food…


April 12, 2016

UW undergrads to present at national science festivals in D.C.

people around silver tank

Two national celebrations of science are happening this week in D.C., and University of Washington undergraduates will be in the spotlight at both events. Clara Orndorff, a pre-engineering undergraduate in the UW Honors Program, will travel with two fellow underwater roboticists to compete in Wednesday’s White House Science Fair. She will be among more than 100…


UW undergraduate team wins $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for gloves that translate sign language

These "SignAloud" gloves developed by UW students contain sensors that record hand position and movement and transmit data wirelessly to a central computer, which uses algorithms to recognize and translate sign language gestures.

Two University of Washington undergraduates have won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their “SignAloud” invention — gloves that can translate American Sign Language into text or speech.


April 8, 2016

UW-led research team wins $7.5M MURI grant to defend against advanced cyberattacks

photo of Radha Poovendran

A University of Washington-led research team has won a $7.5 million, five-year Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Department of Defense to better model and mount defenses against stealthy, continuous computer hacking attacks known as “advanced persistent threats.”


April 7, 2016

UW team stores digital images in DNA — and retrieves them perfectly

Lee Organick, a UW computer science and engineering research scientist, mixes DNA samples for storage. Each tube contains a digital file, which might be a picture of a cat or a Tchaikovsky symphony.

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have developed one of the first complete systems to store digital data in DNA — allowing one to store data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter in a space the size of a sugar cube.


April 5, 2016

UW joins public-private partnership for flexible electronics

An example of flexible hybrid electronics.

The University of Washington has joined NextFlex, a consortium of 30 academic institutions and industrial partners to develop the next generation of flexible electronic devices. As a founding member of this alliance, the UW will seek local and regional partners in the electronics and manufacturing industries to develop and produce flexible electronics for applications from…


April 4, 2016

The Twittersphere does listen to the voice of reason — sometimes

WestJet tweet screenshot

In the maelstrom of information, opinion and conjecture that is Twitter, the voice of truth and reason does occasionally prevail, according to a new study from UW researchers. Tweets from “official accounts” — the government agencies, emergency responders, media or companies at the center of a fast-moving story — can slow the spread of rumors on Twitter and correct misinformation that’s taken on a life of its own.


March 15, 2016

Smartwatches can now track your finger in mid-air using sonar

Photo of FingerIO on phone

A new sonar technology developed by University of Washington computer scientists and electrical engineers allows you to interact with mobile devices and smartwatch screens by writing or gesturing on any nearby surface — a tabletop, a sheet of paper or even in mid-air.


March 8, 2016

Family technology rules: What kids expect of parents

family photo

A new UW study is among the first to explore children’s expectations for parents’ technology use — revealing kids’ feelings about fairness and “oversharing,” the most effective types of household technology rules and families’ most common approaches.


February 29, 2016

Doctor, patient expectations differ on fitness and lifestyle tracking

Image of phones with running apps

With apps and activity trackers measuring every step people take, morsel they eat, and each symptom or pain, patients commonly arrive at doctor’s offices armed with self-tracked data. Yet health care providers lack the capacity or tools to review five years of Fitbit logs or instantaneously interpret data patients have been collecting about themselves, according to new UW research.


NASA data used to track groundwater in Pakistan

Picture of groundwater fieldwork

Pakistan’s water managers are using NASA satellites to more effectively monitor groundwater supplies, thanks to a partnership with UW civil and environmental engineers. It’s part of a larger effort to use the vast amount of data and observations collected by Earth-orbiting satellites to better quality of life in developing countries.


February 25, 2016

Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads

Photo of driverless car

Driverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study co-authored by a University of Washington researcher finds. If people can work, relax and even hold meetings in their fully automated vehicles, they may drive more.


February 24, 2016

Clean, efficient cookstoves from UW-industry partnership to be manufactured in Kenya

Photo of woman testing stove in Kenya

A more efficient and clean wood-burning cookstove — developed by Vashon Island’s BURN Design Lab and UW mechanical engineers — will reduce the amount of fuel families need to collect or buy by 55 percent. It will also reduce exposure to the harmful particulate pollution produced by traditional cooking flames.


February 23, 2016

Four UW scientists awarded Sloan Fellowships for early-career research

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Four faculty members at the University of Washington have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The new Sloan Fellows, announced Feb. 23, include Bingni Brunton, assistant professor of biology; Christopher Laumann, assistant professor of physics; Matthew McQuinn, assistant professor of astronomy; and Emina Torlak, assistant professor of computer science and engineering….


February 18, 2016

Three UW professors win Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Shwetak Patel, Luke Zettlemoyer, David Masiello (left to right)

Three members of the UW faculty have received the 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers.



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