Skip to main content

News & Events

[em]Washington Engineer[/em] - October 2016

In the October 2016 issue:

  • Dean's Message
  • Research - Passwords sent through your body; New Urban Freight Lab; First implanted devices to 'talk' Wi-Fi
  • Campus News - #5 on Reuters' world's most innovative universities; $10M donation from Amazon; RAPID to investigate natural disasters
  • Events - Engineering Lecture Series; Dean's Distinguished Lecture
  • In the Media - Data stored on DNA; Lessons from Tesla crashes; Web tracking and online ads

Dean's Message

The dean touches on research that is revolutionizing the way we view wireless transmissions, a new $10 million gift from Amazon, other academic-industry partnerships and the most ambitious campaign in University of Washington history. Read message »

Michael Bragg


smartphone sends a password through a human body to open a door with an electronic smart lock. photo: Mark Stone/University of Washington

Secure passwords can be sent through your body, instead of air
Sending a password over airborne radio waves like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth means anyone can eavesdrop, making those transmissions vulnerable to hackers. Now, UW engineers have devised a way to send secure passwords through the human body — using benign, low-frequency transmissions generated by smartphone fingerprint sensors and laptop touchpads.

The Atlantic| The Wall Street Journal| IEEE Spectrum| Yahoo! News| Quartz

bicycle rider and delivery truck trying to share space on an urban road

As online retailing booms, new Urban Freight Lab to work with industry, SDOT on delivery challenges
As Seattle adds new residents with appetites for near-instant gratification, how can businesses operate in urban environments with traffic and competition for street space and meet customer expectations for quick deliveries? A new civil and environmental engineering research center will collaborate with the Seattle Department of Transportation and three founding industry members — Costco, Nordstrom and UPS — to test new solutions in urban goods delivery.
AP Big Story| The New York Times| Washington Post| US News & World Report| Daily Journal of Commerce

A smartwatch transmits data from a neural device that can be implanted in a patient's brain (right) to a smartphone via Wi-FI. photo: Mark Stone/University of Washington

Interscatter communication enables first-ever implanted devices, smart contact lenses, credit cards that ‘talk’ Wi-Fi
UW electrical engineers and computer scientists have introduced a new way of communicating that allows devices such as brain implants, contact lenses, credit cards and smaller wearable electronics to talk to everyday devices such as smartphones and watches. This new “interscatter communication” works by converting Bluetooth signals into Wi-Fi transmissions over the air.
Forbes| EE Times| Seattle Times| UK Daily Mail | Live Science| KIRO TV

Campus News

reuters page snippet

UW ranked among the top five most innovative universities in the world by Reuters
The University of Washington places No. 5 on The Reuters 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities, which ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and help drive the global economy. Reuters’ ranking relies exclusively on empirical data such as patent filings and research paper citations from 2009 to 2014.

Rendering of the 250-seat Amazon Auditorium. credit: LMN Architects

CSE gets major boost with $10M donation from Amazon
Amazon is giving a major push to the campaign to build a second Computer Science & Engineering building on the University of Washington campus with a $10 million gift. The new building will provide the space needed for UW to double, to more than 600, the number of degrees awarded annually by the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.
Seattle Times| KUOW| GeekWire| KING5KOMO TV

state-of-the-art laser equipment shows a home damaged by rockfall

$4M grant funds new UW RAPID Facility to investigate natural disasters worldwide
A new Post-Disaster, Rapid Response Research Facility at the UW funded by a $4.1 million National Science Foundation grant, known as the RAPID Facility, will provide instrumentation and tools to collect critical data after earthquakes and storm events worldwide — with the goal of reducing physical damage and losses from future disasters.
KOMO TV | KING5| Seattle Times


The 2016 Engineering Lecture Series:
City Smarts: Engineering Resilient Communities

UW engineering experts explore the latest research and emerging technologies that will inform the development of more resilient urban communities from earthquake preparation to sustainable transportation of goods and emerging technologies for safer, cleaner water.

  • Wednesday, November 2, 2016
    Delivering Sustainability: Transporting Goods in Urban Spaces

    Anne Goodchild, Allan & Inger Osberg Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016
    Understanding Our Chemical Fingerprints: Safer Water for Our Cities

    Edward Kolodziej, Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Lectures are held at 7:30 p.m. in Kane Hall. Supported in part by the University of Washington Alumni Association.

Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Featuring Dr. Steven Ashby

November 8, HUB 145

Providing clean, reliable, and secure sources of energy—and managing them efficiently—is essential to sustainable growth and responsible stewardship of our planet. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Director Steven Ashby will highlight collaborations in a variety of areas, including nanomaterials, data analytics, and power engineering.

In the Media

rendering of test tube with dna inside

DNA Data Storage Popular Science Best of What’s New
Popular Science | Oct. 19, 2016
A technique to store digital data in DNA pioneered by University of Washington engineers and Microsoft researchers has won a 2016 “Best of What’s New” Award from Popular Science.

The front seat of a GM driverless car model from 2012. Credit Jeff Swensen for The New York Times

A lesson of Tesla crashes? Computer vision can’t do it all yet
The New York Times | Sept. 29, 2016
Federal regulators are investigating the fatal crash in May of a Tesla electric car that was equipped with its Autopilot driver-assistance system. Ali Farhadi, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the UW, is featured.

hands at a keyboard. photo: Getty Images

They really are watching you: web tracking surges with online ads
USA Today | August 17, 2016
A UW study that looked at web tracking over the last 20 years found that at least 75 percent of the world's 500 most popular websites contain web trackers, up from fewer than 5 percent in 1998. The researchers used a unique Internet archive, the Wayback Machine, to look at third-party tracking code used on web sites over time.
TODAY | Fortune | TechCrunch