UW News

Engineering


June 17, 2022

Q&A: New children’s book shows how natural world inspired inventor to create medieval robots

Book cover showing a medieval robot

“Robots and Other Amazing Gadgets Invented 800 Years Ago,” a children’s book by the UW’s Faisal Hossain and Qishi Zhou, shares the inventions of Ismail Al-Jazari, a 12th-century polymath considered by many to be the “father of robotics.”


June 13, 2022

Is there snow in that tree? Citizen science helps unpack snow’s effect on summer water supplies

Trees in a forest. The trees are blanketed by heavy snow.

To investigate what happens to snow intercepted by trees, UW researchers created a citizen science project called Snow Spotter.


June 1, 2022

VoxLens: Adding one line of code can make some interactive visualizations accessible to screen-reader users

A laptop with a screen reader attached sitting on a table

VoxLens users can gain a high-level summary of the information described in a graph, listen to a graph translated into sound or use voice-activated commands to ask specific questions about the data, such as the mean or the minimum value.


May 26, 2022

With EcoCAR, UW students experience post-COVID camaraderie under the hood of a hybrid vehicle

students standing with a car with logos on it

With the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, UW students modified a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer to use electrification, advanced propulsion systems and automated vehicle technology. It’s an opportunity for students — across four years — to take a car from design to a consumer-ready product.


April 21, 2022

Q&A: Making Earth-friendly electronics

A hand holding a biodegradeable circuit board in a beaker full of water. The circuit board is dissolving

Three researchers in the University of Washington College of Engineering are exploring ways to make electronics more Earth-friendly.


April 20, 2022

Lasers trigger magnetism in atomically thin quantum materials

Researchers have discovered that light — from a laser — can trigger a form of magnetism in a normally nonmagnetic material. This magnetism centers on the behavior of electrons “spins,” which have a potential applications in quantum computing. Scientists discovered that electrons within the material became oriented in the same direction when illuminated by photons from a laser. By controlling and aligning electron spins at this level of detail and accuracy, this platform could have applications in quantum computing, quantum simulation and other fields. The experiment, led by scientists at the University of Washington, the University of Hong Kong and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was published April 20 in Nature.


April 6, 2022

UW-housed RAPID Facility receives $6M renewal grant

Researchers looks at boat drone in water

The first-of-its-kind center has received a $6 million renewal grant from the National Science Foundation.


March 29, 2022

Scientists identify overgrowth of key brain structure in babies who later develop autism

New research from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) Network, which includes the University of Washington, finds that the amygdala, an area of the brain critical for interpreting emotions, grows too rapidly in infants who go on to develop autism.


March 16, 2022

Tiny battery-free devices float in the wind like dandelion seeds

Inspired by how dandelions use the wind to distribute their seeds, a University of Washington team has developed a tiny sensor-carrying device that can be blown by the wind as it tumbles toward the ground.


March 8, 2022

O-pH, a new UW dental tool prototype, can spot the acidic conditions that lead to cavities

Patient in dental exam

You and your dentist have a lot of tools and techniques for stopping cavities, but detecting the specific chemical conditions that can lead to cavities and then preventing them from ever getting started is much harder. Now, in a new study, University of Washington researchers have shown that a dental tool they created can measure…


February 11, 2022

Samson Jenekhe, Anna Karlin elected to National Academy of Engineering

Samson Jenehke, a University of Washington professor in both the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Anna Karlin, a UW professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, announced Feb. 9 by the academy.


Smartphone app can vibrate a single drop of blood to determine how well it clots

Close up of a person holding a phone with a plastic attachment that holds a cup under the camera. The person is adding a red solution to the cup.

Researchers at the UW have developed a new blood-clotting test that uses a single drop of blood and a smartphone vibration motor and camera.


February 9, 2022

UW and Amazon announce creation of the Science Hub

aerieal shot of UW

The University of Washington and Amazon today announced the Science Hub, an effort that deepens the relationship between the two organizations and will advance innovation in core robotics, artificial intelligence technologies and their applications.


January 26, 2022

Four UW faculty members, incoming Burke Museum leader named 2021 AAAS Fellows

Four current faculty members and the incoming executive director of the UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture have been named AAAS Fellows, according to a Jan. 26 announcement by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are among 564 new fellows from around the world elected in 2021, who are recognized for “their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements” in science and engineering.


January 24, 2022

Fast, cheap test can detect COVID-19 virus’ genome without need for PCR

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new test for COVID-19 that combines the speed of over-the-counter antigen tests with the accuracy of PCR tests that are processed in medical labs and hospitals. The Harmony COVID-19 test is a diagnostic test that, like PCR tests for COVID-19, detects genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But whereas conventional PCR tests can take several hours, the Harmony kit can provide results in less than 20 minutes for some samples and with similar accuracy.


December 9, 2021

3D imaging method may help doctors better determine prostate cancer aggressiveness

picture of research leads with microscope

A team led by the UW has developed a new, non-destructive method that images entire 3D biopsies instead of a slice for determining prostate cancer aggressiveness. The 3D images provided more information than a 2D image — specifically, details about the tree-like structure of the glands throughout the tissue.


November 22, 2021

Kids, teens believe girls aren’t interested in computer science, study shows

Children as young as age 6 develop stereotypes that girls aren’t interested in computer science and engineering, according to new research from the University of Washington and the University of Houston.


November 17, 2021

A chatbot can help doctors better understand incoming emergency department patients’ social needs

A row of green chairs in a waiting room

A team led by the UW developed a chatbot that could ask emergency department visitors about social needs, including housing, food, access to medical care and physical safety.


November 8, 2021

Political ads during the 2020 presidential election cycle collected personal information and spread misleading information

bar chart showing an increase in number of political ads in Atlanta as the date approaches for the Georgia run-off election in 2021

University of Washington researchers looked at almost 56,000 political ads from almost 750 news sites between September 2020 and January 2021.


October 20, 2021

UW students designed a rover to inspect culvert conditions to help fish

A rover entering a pipe

UW students created a rover that can inspect sewer pipes or culverts for any damage that could prevent fish from using them during migration.


September 28, 2021

New NSF-funded institute to harness AI for accelerated discoveries in physics, astronomy and neuroscience

A venn diagram

On Sept. 28, the National Science Foundation announced $15 million, five-year grant to integrate AI tools into the scientific research and discovery process. The award will fund the Accelerated AI Algorithms for Data-Driven Discovery Institute — or A3D3 Institute — a partnership of nine universities, led by the University of Washington.


September 22, 2021

UW and UC San Diego researchers honored for their work discovering that someone could hack a car

A team from the University of Washington and University of California San Diego has received the Golden Goose Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


September 9, 2021

NSF to fund revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies

Aerial shot of the University of Washington campus in Seattle

The National Science Foundation has announced it will fund a new endeavor to bring atomic-level precision to the devices and technologies that underpin much of modern life, and will transform fields like information technology in the decades to come. The five-year, $25 million Science and Technology Center grant will found the Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand — or IMOD — a collaboration of scientists and engineers at 11 universities led by the University of Washington.


September 2, 2021

UW engineer explains how the redesigned levee system in New Orleans helped mitigate the impact of Hurricane Ida

A graphic showing Hurricane Ida superimposed on top of a map

UW News asked Michael Motley, a UW associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, to explain how levees protect cities like New Orleans. 


July 29, 2021

UW to lead new NSF institute for using artificial intelligence to understand dynamic systems

Purple and white lines that are tracing the shape of the UW W.

The UW will lead a new artificial intelligence research institute that will focus on fundamental AI and machine learning theory, algorithms and applications for real-time learning and control of complex dynamic systems, which describe chaotic situations where conditions are constantly shifting and hard to predict.


July 22, 2021

Gaming graphics card allows faster, more precise control of fusion energy experiments

A prototype of the UW's current fusion experiment.

UW researchers have developed a method that uses a gaming graphics card to control plasma formation in their prototype fusion reactor.


July 16, 2021

20 UW researchers elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021

Twenty scientists and engineers at the University of Washington are among the 38 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021, according to a July 15 announcement. New members were chosen for “their outstanding record of scientific and technical achievement, and their willingness to work on behalf of the Academy to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington.”


July 9, 2021

‘We need to be patient’ — UW’s Dawn Lehman on the collapse of the Champlain Towers South

Dawn Lehman's headshot

While there is currently no explanation for why the Champlain Towers South building collapsed, Dawn Lehman, a University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been studying photographs, videos, drawings, reports and permits to investigate this tragedy to understand what happened. UW News asked her to help us understand why buildings fail.


June 14, 2021

UW researchers can turn a single photo into a video

A massive waterfall surrounded by green trees and bushes. A large building is in the back left of this photo.

UW researchers have developed a deep learning method that can animate any flowing material, including waterfalls, smoke or clouds.


June 11, 2021

Smartphone camera can illuminate bacteria causing acne, dental plaques

Image of a smartphone that was modified for a scientific experiment.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method that uses smartphone-derived images to reveal potentially harmful bacteria on skin and in oral cavities. Their approach can visually identify microbes on skin contributing to acne and slow wound healing, as well as bacteria in the oral cavity that can cause gingivitis and dental plaques.


June 10, 2021

Cause, scope determined for deadly winter debris flow in Uttarakhand, India

A destroyed hydroelectric plant in the mountains

On Feb. 7, 2021, a wall of debris and water barreled down river valleys in India, destroyed two hydropower facilities and left more than 200 people dead or missing. A self-organized coalition of 53 scientists from 14 countries, including researchers from the University of Washington, worked nonstop following the disaster to investigate the cause, scope and impacts.


May 3, 2021

Earthquake early warnings launch in Washington, completing West Coast-wide ShakeAlert system

hand holding phone with alert

The U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Washington-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and state emergency managers on Tuesday, May 4, will activate the system that sends earthquake early warnings throughout Washington state. This completes the rollout of ShakeAlert, an automated system that gives people living in Washington, Oregon and California advance warning of incoming earthquakes.


Genetically engineered grass cleanses soil of toxic pollutants left by military explosives, new research shows

Grasses growing in tubes in the foreground. Two people stand behind them. Another person standing to the right.

A team, which includes researchers from the University of Washington, demonstrated that over the course of three years, a genetically engineered switchgrass could break down an explosive chemical in plots of soil at a military range.


April 29, 2021

6 UW-affiliated researchers elected to the National Academy of Sciences

The view of Mount Rainier from the UW campus in Seattle

Five faculty members and one affiliate professor at the University of Washington are among 120 new members and 30 international members elected to the National Academy of Sciences: Anna Karlin, professor of computer science and engineering; Rachel Klevit, professor of biochemistry; Randall LeVeque, professor emeritus of applied mathematics; Julie Theriot, professor of biology; Rachel Wong, professor of biological structure; and Julie Overbaugh, professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a UW affiliate professor of microbiology.


April 28, 2021

People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

A picture of power lines at sunset. Everything is hazy.

A new study from researchers at multiple universities, including the UW, shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.


April 20, 2021

Using engineering methods to track the imperceptible movements of stony corals

A coral reef with orange fish swimming around

A new study led by UW researchers borrowed image-analysis methods from engineering to spot the minute movements of a stony coral.


April 19, 2021

Arguing on the internet: UW researchers studying how to make online arguments productive

A person looking shocked at what they are seeing on their phone

UW researchers worked with almost 260 people to understand online disagreements and to develop potential design interventions that could make these discussions more productive and centered around relationship-building.


April 1, 2021

New system that uses smartphone or computer cameras to measure pulse, respiration rate could help future personalized telehealth appointments

A person holding a phone in front of their face

A UW-led team has developed a method that uses the camera on a person’s smartphone or computer to take their pulse and breathing rate from a real-time video of their face.


March 10, 2021

Helpful behavior during pandemic tied to recognizing common humanity

Woman gives a box of masks to a donation drive at a UW parking lot.

A new University of Washington study finds that an identification with all humanity, as opposed to identification with a geographic area like a country or town, predicts whether someone will engage in “prosocial” behaviors particular to the pandemic, such as donating extra masks or coming to the aid of a sick person.


March 9, 2021

Alexa, do I have an irregular heart rhythm? First AI system for contactless monitoring of heart rhythm using smart speakers

A small white box on a table and a person sitting in front of it (their back is to the camera)

UW researchers have developed a new skill for a smart speaker that for the first time monitors both regular and irregular heartbeats without physical contact.



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