UW Today

College of Engineering

July 16, 2015

Many mobile health apps neglect needs of blind users

Screenshot of mHealth app with poorly labeled buttons

University of Washington researchers who conducted the first academic review of nine mhealth iPhone apps on the market in March 2014 found none met all the criteria that would make them accessible to blind customers. Accessibility shortcomings ranged from improperly labeled buttons to layouts that confuse built-in screen readers that assist low-vision smartphone users.

June 30, 2015

UW team programs solitary yeast cells to say ‘hello’ to one another

UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker's yeast, a first step in learning to build multicellular organisms from scratch. The red yeast cells have been engineered to produce the plant hormone auxin, which "tells" the green cells to express a gene differently.

UW researchers have produced cell-to-cell communication in baker’s yeast — a first step in learning to build multicellular organisms or artificial organs from scratch.

June 18, 2015

Saharan silver ants use hair to survive Earth’s hottest temperatures

A Saharan silver ant offloading heat on top of dry vegetation.

An international team of researchers that includes a University of Washington electrical engineer has discovered two key strategies that enable Saharan silver ants to survive in one of the hottest terrestrial environments on Earth.

June 12, 2015

Microsoft dedicates $10M gift to new UW Computer Science & Engineering building

An early conceptual drawing of the new CSE building interior by LMN Architects. The final building design will incorporate an undergraduate commons (pictured) and instructional labs, seminar rooms, research labs, and collaborative spaces for students and faculty

Microsoft Corp. is awarding a $10 million gift to kick-start a campaign to build a second Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) building on the University of Washington campus as an “investment in students who will become the innovators and creators of tomorrow,”

June 2, 2015

UW researchers scaling up fusion hopes with DOE grant

UW researchers will attempt to create a self-sustained and controlled fusion reaction with a scaled-up version of this Z-pinch device.

UW researchers are scaling up a novel plasma confinement device with a DOE grant, in hopes of producing a self-sustaining reaction to create fusion energy.

June 1, 2015

UW students use open source mapping to aid relief efforts in Nepal

Map­ping in Nepal by Open­StreetMap com­mu­nity

University of Washington civil and environmental engineering students have joined a 4,000-volunteer crowdsourcing effort to turn satel­lite imagery of Nepal into maps that aid earthquake relief efforts.

May 18, 2015

Study: 44 percent of parents struggle to limit cell phone use at playgrounds

Playground phone

A new University of Washington study finds that cell phone use at playgrounds is a significant source of parental guilt, and that caregivers absorbed in their phones were much less attentive to children’s requests.

May 7, 2015

UW researchers hack a teleoperated surgical robot to reveal security flaws

UW reseachers mounted common cyberattacks while study participants used the Raven II surgical robotic system to move rubber blocks on a pegboard.

University of Washington researchers easily hacked a next generation teleoperated surgical robot — one used only for research purposes — to test how easily a malicious attack could hijack remotely-controlled operations in the future and to make those systems more secure.

April 27, 2015

New UW app can detect sleep apnea events via smartphone

ApneaApp uses a smartphone to wirelessly detect sleep apnea events in the privacy of one's bedroom, without needing sensors or special equipment.

The gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea — a disease which affects roughly 1 in 13 Americans — requires an overnight hospital stay and costs thousands of dollars. A new smartphone app developed at the University of Washington can wirelessly test for sleep apnea events in a person’s own bedroom without needing special sensors attached to the body.

April 16, 2015

Research identifies barriers in tracking meals and what foodies want


University of Washington and Georgia Institute of Technology researchers studied how mobile-based food journals integrate into everyday life. A new study suggests how future designs might make it easier and more effective.

April 9, 2015

Who’s a CEO? Google image results can shift gender biases

CEO Google image search results (April 2015)

A University of Washington study assesses how accurately gender representations in online image search results for 45 different occupations — from CEO to telemarketer to engineer — match reality. Exposure to skewed image results shifted people’s perceptions about how many women actually hold those jobs.

March 23, 2015

UW scientists build a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

The ultra-thin semiconductor, which is about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, stretches across the top of the photonic cavity.

University of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser using a semiconductor that’s only three atoms thick. It could help open the door to next-generation computing that uses light, rather than electrons, to transfer information.

March 19, 2015

UW geologist, engineer reflect back one year later on nation’s deadliest landslide

An aerial photo of the Oso, Wash., mudslide.

A UW geologist and geotechnical engineer look back at what the past year has meant, personally and professionally, as they helped recovery efforts from the nation’s deadliest landslide in our own backyard.

March 18, 2015

New Air Force center at UW learns from animals for better flight

Yonatan Munk, a postdoctoral researcher in biology, studies how moths fly.

A new center at the University of Washington funded by the U.S. Air Force will focus on how elements in nature can help solve challenging engineering and technological problems related to building small, remotely operated aircraft.

March 10, 2015

An injectable UW polymer could keep soldiers, trauma patients from bleeding to death

a rendering of fibrin forming a blood clot using the polymer to bind.

University of Washington researchers have developed a new injectable polymer that strengthens blood clots, called PolySTAT. Administered in a simple shot, the polymer finds any unseen injuries and has the potential to keep trauma patients from bleeding to death before reaching medical care.

February 13, 2015

AAAS symposium looks at how to bring big-data skills to academia

word cloud

A session Feb. 15 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting will explore how big data scientists can find careers at universities and within academic settings.

AAAS talk: Some bilinguals use emoticons more when chatting in non-native language

8010790199_1156db894e_o (2)

A research team has found that one group of bilingual speakers used emoticons more often when typing in their second language in casual, online communication than they did when typing in their native tongue.

February 5, 2015

New tool monitors effects of tidal, wave energy on marine habitat

From left to right: UW researchers Ben Rush, Nick Michel-Hart, James Joslin and Paul Gibbs prepare to test the monitoring device underwater in a tank on campus.

A robot developed at the University of Washington will deploy instruments to gather information in unprecedented detail about how marine life interacts with underwater equipment used to harvest wave and tidal energy.

January 19, 2015

Boeing, UW open research lab on Seattle campus

Gov. Jay Inslee learns about riveting from Boeing engineer Riley Hanson Smith, left, and Sai Krovvidi, a UW doctoral student in mechanical engineering, at the opening of the Boeing Advanced Research Center on campus.

The Boeing Advanced Research Center, located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on the UW campus, will let students and faculty members work collaboratively with Boeing engineers on aircraft and spacecraft assembly and manufacturing. Four initial projects are underway at the UW, led by Boeing-employed affiliate instructors and UW engineering professors.

December 1, 2014

‘What is HCDE?’ New comics class aims to answer the question

Undergraduate students Xiangyi (Anne) Zheng, left, and Daniel Aldridge give feedback on each other's comics at a recent class.

A new class at the University of Washington is using comics to explain what, exactly, the field of human-centered design is all about.

November 20, 2014

UW undergrad’s early life challenges become a hectic schedule of opportunity

David Coven in the lab.

From starting his own company – and recruiting 11 friends to join him – and running a successful nonprofit to doing research in the lab and taking a full course load, engineering undergraduate student David Coven is an expert schedule juggler.

November 12, 2014

Moving cameras talk to each other to identify, track pedestrians

Tracking camera example

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another’s differences.

November 5, 2014

UW study shows direct brain interface between humans

An example of how the brain to brain interface demonstration would look.

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago.

October 24, 2014

Large X-ray scanner to produce 3-D images for labs across campus

A photo of an example of a scanner.

A state-of-the-art imaging machine is coming to the University of Washington for use by researchers in a variety of disciplines.

U.S. Navy awards $8 million to develop wave, tidal energy technology

students on boat

The UW has an $8 million, four-year contract to develop technologies that can harness waves, tides and currents to power naval facilities worldwide.

October 10, 2014

Engineering lecture series focuses on technologies for the heart

2014 flyer image

The University of Washington’s College of Engineering 2014 fall lecture series will feature faculty researchers in engineering and medicine who are improving cardiac medical care with new technologies.

October 8, 2014

UW fusion reactor concept could be cheaper than coal

A prototype of the UW's current fusion experiment.

University of Washington engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.

October 2, 2014

UW’s Jeffrey Heer wins award to support data visualization research

A data visualization example

Jeffrey Heer, a University of Washington associate professor of computer science and engineering, has received an award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop new theories, tools and techniques for data visualization that help scientists see and understand big data.

September 30, 2014

UW students to build hybrid-electric muscle car in EcoCAR 3 contest

A Chevy Camaro

The UW is one of 16 schools invited to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Co. EcoCAR 3 competition that spans four years with stand-alone contests each spring. Their challenge in this next competition is to convert a Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric car.

September 22, 2014

New RFID technology helps robots find household objects

A PR2 robot successfully navigates to a medication bottle.

The University of Washington and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new search algorithm that improves a robot’s ability to find and navigate to tagged objects.

September 19, 2014

Join expedition online: UW students help install cabled deep-sea observatory

octopus near instrument

UW students have had a unique experience off the coast of Washington and Oregon helping scientists and engineers complete construction of the world’s largest deep-ocean observatory.

Reflected smartphone transmissions enable gesture control

An image showing how SideSwipe works.

University of Washington engineers have developed a new form of low-power wireless sensing technology that lets users “train” their smartphones to recognize and respond to specific hand gestures near the phone.

September 3, 2014

Changing temperature powers sensors in hard-to-reach places

The power harvester could be placed outside and runs off of temperature changes in the natural world.

University of Washington researchers have taken inspiration from a centuries-old clock design and created a power harvester that uses natural fluctuations in temperature and pressure as its power source.

August 27, 2014

New smartphone app can detect newborn jaundice in minutes

A demonstration of how the app set-up looks.

University of Washington engineers and physicians have developed a smartphone application that checks for jaundice in newborns and can deliver results to parents and pediatricians within minutes.

August 26, 2014

Scientists craft a semiconductor junction only three atoms thick

As seen under an optical microscope, the heterostructures have a triangular shape. The two different monolayer semiconductors can be recognized through their different colors.

Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick.

August 19, 2014

Shyam Gollakota named one of world’s top innovators under 35

photo of shyam gollakota

Shyam Gollakota, a University of Washington assistant professor of computer science and engineering, has been named one of this year’s “Innovators Under 35” by global media company MIT Technology Review.

August 18, 2014

StopInfo for OneBusAway app makes buses more usable for blind riders


A UW study found that StopInfo, a new hub for bus stop information in the OneBusAway app, is helpful for blind riders and can promote spontaneous and unfamiliar travel. A UW research team launched the program recently in collaboration with King County Metro.

August 4, 2014

No-power Wi-Fi connectivity could fuel Internet of Things reality

A diagram of how the technology works.

University of Washington engineers have designed a new communication system that uses radio frequency signals as a power source and reuses existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide Internet connectivity to battery-free devices.

July 30, 2014

Dissolvable fabric loaded with medicine might offer faster protection against HIV

The UW's dissolving fibers could be spun and placed within an applicator, similar to those used to insert a tampon. The inset image shows the quick-release fibers magnified 5,000 times.

University of Washington bioengineers have discovered a potentially faster way to deliver a topical drug that protects women from contracting HIV. Their method spins the drug into silk-like fibers that quickly dissolve when in contact with moisture, releasing higher doses of the drug than possible with other materials.

July 29, 2014

Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

water and ice

The first measurements of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean recorded house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. More sensors are going out this summer to study waves in newly ice-free Arctic waters.

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