News & Events

About NewsFlash

NewsFlash is a monthly email of press items featuring our College's researchers. For a more complete and regularly updated list of COE media coverage, see In the Media.

Click on a headline to read that article on the web. Some links may require a subscription or no longer be active.

NewsFlash is a service of the UW College of Engineering and the UW Office of News and Information. If you have a newsworthy result about one month from publication, presentation or demonstration, please contact Jennifer Langston at or (206) 543-2580.

NewsFlash, June 2011


July 01, 2011 | Wired
Feedback loops are changing what people do

Brain with electrical plug   Feedback loops are profoundly effective tools for changing behavior, argues the July cover story. The basic premise is simple. Provide people with information about their actions in real time, then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors. Computer scientist and electrical engineer Shwetak Patel's sensors are described.

Home's electrical wiring acts as antenna to receive low-power sensor data | Sep. 15, 2010


June 29, 2011 | Wired: Gadget Lab blog
New two-wheeled professional tool slices through air

Engineer testing bike   Photos of Cervélo’s new bike, to be unveiled this weekend in the Tour de France, include images of aerodynamic testing in the UW's Kirsten Wind Tunnel. Engineers compared the bicycle's performance against older designs and competitors' models. Wind tunnel manager Jack Ross appears in the fourth photo.


June 02, 2011 | Gizmag
EnergJ system could cut computer power consumption by up to 90 percent

Power meter   EnergJ, developed by computer scientist Luis Ceze and doctoral student Adrian Sampson, supplies less power to regions of the chip that are performing processes that don't require absolute precision. In lab simulations, it has already cut power consumption by up to 50 percent, although that amount could potentially reach as high as 90 percent.

Code green: Energy-efficient programming to curb computers’ power use | May 31, 2011


June 03, 2011 | Engadget
EnerJ power-saving system prioritizes CPU voltage, may reduce energy consumption by 90 percent

Luis Ceze   It takes a lot of energy for computing systems or data centers to patch up critical errors, but what if we devoted less power to fixing less urgent issues? That's the basic idea behind EnerJ -- a new power-saving system that could cut a chip's energy consumption by 90 percent, simply by prioritizing critical problems over those that are less threatening.

Code green: Energy-efficient programming to curb computers’ power use | May 31, 2011


June 01, 2011 | DailyTech: Hardware blog
Letting your phone make mistakes could extend its battery life

Person talking on phone   Famous English poet Alexander Pope is quoted as saying: "To err is human; to forgive, divine." But what if we applied that same principle to computers? That's the premise, more or less of a growing field, which looks to allow computers to make minor errors.

Code green: Energy-efficient programming to curb computers’ power use | May 31, 2011


June 24, 2011 | Scientific American: Observations blog
Cosmic microwaves and alloys earn Kyoto Prizes

Image of cosmic microwaves   John Cahn, a materials scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and UW affiliate professor in materials science & engineering and physics, was awarded the Kyoto Prize in advanced technology for his work on custom-engineered alloys.


June 27, 2011 | Puget Sound Business Journal: TechFlash blog
UW professor, materials scientist John Cahn wins Kyoto Prize

John Cahn   From your smartphone and laptop to your car's interior and refrigerator's exterior, many of the materials used to create them have been influenced by the pioneering work of Kyoto Prize-winner John Cahn, a UW affiliate professor of physics and materials science & engineering. "It’s kind of unreal, it came out of the blue," Cahn said. "How can you describe an award like that coming at age 83?"


June 24, 2011 | The Seattle Times: Brier Dudley's blog
UW prof, alloys pioneer wins Kyoto Prize

John Cahn, a UW affiliate professor in materials science & engineering and physics, today received the prestigious (and lucrative) Kyoto Prize for global achievement, for his pioneering work in materials science and engineering.


May 18, 2011 | Nature: Research Highlights
Materials science: Diamond lighter than a feather

Diamond aerogel   Aerogels are extremely porous and lightweight materials with a large surface area and many potential applications. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, materials scientist Peter Pauzauskie and colleagues show how they created a diamond version of the material by squeezing an aerogel of amorphous carbon until it took on a crystalline structure.


June 03, 2011 | PC World
DIY inkjet printer prints on almost any surface

Video of 3D printer   Mechanical engineer Mark Ganter and his students built an open inkjet printer for the UW's ME495 design class. It can print on all kinds of objects: paper, t-shirts, even mouse pads (remember those?).

3-D printing hits rock-bottom prices with homemade ceramics mix | Mar. 31, 2009


May 31, 2011 | The New York Times: Well blog
Cellphone radiation may cause cancer, advisory panel says

Hand holding cell phone   A World Health Organization panel has concluded that cellphones are “possibly carcinogenic,’’ putting the popular devices in the same category as certain dry cleaning chemicals and pesticides, as a potential threat to human health. Bioengineer Henry Lai is quoted.

Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by a University of Washington researcher | Oct. 30, 1999


May 31, 2011 | The Seattle Times (via Los Angeles Times)
Panel dials up danger of cellphone radiation

Person using cell phone   Cellphone users may be at increased risk for two types of rare cancers and should try to reduce exposure to energy emitted by the phones, according to a panel of 31 international scientists convened by the WHO. Bioengineer Henry Lai is quoted.

Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by a University of Washington researcher | Oct. 30, 1999


June 01, 2011 | CNN International
Opinion: Warning on cell phones an important first step

Henry Lai   In an editorial, bioengineer Henry Lai writes that he hopes people will take a precautionary approach and heed the WHO's warning about possible effects of radiation from mobile phones.

Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by a University of Washington researcher | Oct. 30, 1999


June 02, 2011 | CBS News (via CNET)
Trouble with cell phone radiation standard

Person holding cellphone   The second in a three-part series on issues related to cell phone radiation. This one argues that a federal standard may not be the best measure of safety, nor the best way to help consumers reduce their exposure. Bioengineer Henry Lai is quoted.

Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by a University of Washington researcher | Oct. 30, 1999


June 01, 2011 | National Geographic
Thinking outside the phone

Person holding phone   Computer scientist Richard Anderson explains how he applies a mix of mobile phones and other technologies to help the WHO solve a critical yet common drug supply problem throughout the developing world.

June 08, 2011 | KING 5 News
Is tidal energy affecting sea life?

Jim Thomson   Revolutionary efforts to harness the power of Puget Sound tides took a big step forward today. UW fisheries scientist John Horne and civil and environmental engineer Jim Thomson are interviewed.

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines | Dec. 13, 2010


June 09, 2011 | Kitsap Sun
Data from Puget Sound's depths tell of marine life at proposed turbine site

Researchers retrieving equipment from the water   Engineers aboard a UW research vessel hauled up three rigs that each look like a squat three-legged spider. Over the past month, the subsea measuring equipment collected gigabytes of raw data from the seafloor. UW scientists will analyze the data to learn about marine life at the proposed site of a tidal energy turbine.

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines | Dec. 13, 2010


June 14, 2011 | Infrastructurist
New report: High gas prices, more than low fares, encourage transit ridership

Train   Gas prices are only one factor that can influence transit ridership, argues civil and environmental engineer Cynthia Chen in the journal Urban Studies. Fares and service upgrades also play a big part, and it’s valuable to compare the relative effects of all three forces.


June 14, 2011 | The Seattle Times: Brier Dudley's blog
OneBusAway creator hired by Metro, briefly, before Google

Brian Ferris   Computer science graduate Brian Ferris will spend a month or two coding for King County, helping it complete and test software for Metro's new bus radio and GPS system. Ferris and civil engineering PhD student Kari Watkins developed the popular OneBusAway app.

Bus left you waiting in the cold? Use your cell phone to track it down | Feb. 05, 2009


May 18, 2011 | Nature
Heart regeneration

Image of regenerated heart   Charles Murry, professor of pathology and bioengineering, and Michael Laflamme, assistant professor of pathology, wrote a Nature review article on the current status of using adult stem cells, pluripotent stem cells, cellular reprogramming and tissue engineering for regenerating hearts.

A strategy to fix a broken heart | Aug. 09, 2010


June 13, 2011 | NPR
All pumped up: Can stem cells fix human hearts?

Graphic of heart   Scientists are enthusiastic about a heart disease treatment involving stem cells. Michael Laflamme, assistant professor of pathology, and Charles Murry, professor of pathology and bioengineering, discussed the technology in the May 19 issue of Nature.

A strategy to fix a broken heart | Aug. 09, 2010


June 15, 2011 | MSNBC
Next health hazard: Hackable medical implants

Wireless electric medical devices are getting sleeker and smarter, but their security and privacy features are lagging behind. Computer scientist Yoshi Kohno, who was part of a group that showed security flaws in a pacemaker, is quoted.

Researchers find implantable cardiac defibrillators may expose patients to security and privacy risks; potential solutions suggested | Mar. 11, 2008


June 13, 2011 | IEEE Spectrum
Using robots to train the surgeons of tomorrow

UW's Raven surgical robot   Two Johns Hopkins University researchers write about the future of robots for training surgeons. The UW’s Raven System, they write, is an impressive mobile surgical robot used for telesurgery. In the next few months, seven schools are receiving this system as a part of a multi-institutional grant: Johns Hopkins University, UC Santa Cruz, University of Washington, UC Berkeley, Harvard, University of Nebraska, and UCLA.

Robotic surgeon to team up with doctors, astronauts on NASA mission | Apr. 18, 2007


June 16, 2011 | Xconomy
Kinect hacks finally legit - is Skype next?

Kinect logo   It’s not just for bootleggers anymore. Today, Microsoft is making good on its promises to officially open up the Xbox 360′s Kinect motion sensor. One of the most noted early adaptations was the effort by UW engineering students to use the Kinect for research into how surgeons can better control robots to perform delicate surgeries.

Engineering students hack Kinect for surgical robotics research | Jan. 03, 2011


June 16, 2011 | The Chronicle of Higher Education: Wired Campus blog
Wired Campus: Microsoft software lets researchers make serious use of its video-game controller

Blind person using NAVI Kinect navigation   New software released today by Microsoft could help more academics use the company’s gesture-based video-game controller—called Kinect—in research projects to explore new applications in robotics, health care, education, and other fields. Electrical engineer Howard Chizeck is quoted.

Engineering students hack Kinect for surgical robotics research | Jan. 03, 2011


May 31, 2011 | Scientific American
Hack my ride: Cyber attack risk on car computers

Monitor showing road   Increasingly sophisticated onboard computers may put cars in danger of cyber attacks. Research by computer scientist Yoshi Kohno is noted.

Media alert: Presentation on the security of modern automobiles | May 18, 2010


June 30, 2011 | The (UK) Guardian: Punctuated Equilibrium blog
A Rosetta Stone for the Indus script

Rajesh Rao speaking at TED   How would you solve the world's oldest and most difficult crossword puzzle? Watch a video of Rajesh Rao's TED talk to learn how he's approaching the challenge.

Computers unlock more secrets of the mysterious Indus Valley script | Aug. 03, 2009


June 03, 2011 | Puget Sound Business Journal: TechFlash blog
Nimbic, formerly Physware, raises $6.9 million

Nimbic logo   Nimbic, the startup formerly known as Physware that was founded in 1996 by electrical engineer Vikram Jandhyala, has raised $6.9 million and rebranded itself. The startup develops software tools to help companies design circuit boards and integrated circuits, and is now moving into cloud computing.


June 20, 2011 | The New York Times: Bits blog The Farecast for electronics logo   Computer scientist Oren Etzioni is on to another predictive project. He has started, a Web site that aims to predict the future price of electronic devices and also to take a stab at predicting what is coming next. He and his associates in Seattle have made two billion price observations that let them say with some certainty whether the Samsung TV you have your eye on will go down or up in price next week.


June 20, 2011 | GeekWire
Decide unveils predictive shopping service to make sure gadget lovers don't get burned

The Decide team at its Seattle office   Seattle-based has developed a new Internet shopping search service that instructs consumers on the best time to buy laptops, TVs or cameras. The company was co-founded by computer scientist Oren Etzioni and four UW alumni.


June 20, 2011 | TechCrunch
Decide launches an electronics shopping service that tells you when to buy (and wait) screenshot   Computer scientist Oren Etzioni and former students today officially launched, a novel comparison-shopping tool that aim to take that feeling of nagging regret out of consumer electronics purchases.


June 01, 2011 | Wall Street Journal
Bay Area technology firms put down roots in Seattle

Facebook's Seattle office   Many engineers make the pilgrimage to Silicon Valley to work for hot Web companies. Increasingly, though, top tech workers in the Seattle area are seeing Bay Area Web companies come to them. Part of the reason is the UW. Former UW computer scientist Brian Bershad said he often hires former UW interns at Google's Seattle office.


June 10, 2011 | The New York Times
Computer studies made cool, on film and now on campus

Keila Fong   At the University of Washington, enrollment in the introductory computer science course is at a record high of 1,700. The movie "The Social Network" didn't hurt. “We’ve been saying for 15 years, ‘If we could just get a show like the lawyer and doctor shows that make being a software person sexy,’ ” said computer scientist Ed Lazowska.


June 27, 2011 | Christian Science Monitor
Worried about jobs, college women go 'geek'

CS students   A year ago, Harvard University's student newspaper dubbed computer science the most "gender-skewed" major on campus. The number of women majoring in computer science at Harvard has since nearly doubled. Computer scientist Hank Levy comments on programs to recruit undergraduate women at the UW, where numbers are steady at about 23 percent.


June 15, 2011 | The New York Times: Room for Debate blog
Computer science's 'Sputnik moment'?

Room for Debate logo   Computer scientist Ed Lazowska participates in a New York Times debate about whether the surge of students into computer science will last, and whether it could help raise American educational achievement.


June 20, 2011 | GeekWire
What the budget crunch is doing to computer science, and what to do about it

Graph of funding projections   There is only one way forward from the state budget crunch, writes computer scientist Ed Lazowska in a guest post: The UW must institute differential tuition: differential by field and by year. Additionally, units must be able to retain the vast majority of the tuition revenue that they generate.


June 08, 2011 | Xconomy
Computer science tuition could rise faster than other degrees under new WA rules

Pay here' sign   With a hot market for their skills and employers who offer top-notch salaries and benefits, should computer science students pay more for their bachelor’s degree than theater or history majors? In Washington state, the answer could soon be yes.


June 06, 2011 | The Seattle Times
Microsoft, Boeing pledge $50 million as tuitions set to shoot up

Gov. Chris Gregoire hugs Microsoft's Brad Smith.   Microsoft and Boeing have pledged $50 million toward a new program that will provide scholarships to Washington undergraduate students majoring in high-demand fields such as health care, engineering and science. The money will provide as many as 10,000 scholarships of $1,000 apiece.


June 29, 2011 | The Everett Herald
Gates Scholar credits parents for success

Lincoln Sea   Lincoln Sea’s parents left Cambodia and worked multiple jobs, day and night, to ensure their five children would succeed. The high school graduate was recently awarded a full-ride scholarship through the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which focuses on low-income minority students pursuing careers in the sciences and engineering. Sea will attend the UW, where he plans to study to become a software engineer.


June 11, 2011 | KOMO TV
Fear, optimism as UW grads face an uncertain future

Students at 2011 commencement   KOMO News talked to UW graduates about their future plans. Industrial engineering graduate Nadine Curry, electrical engineering graduate Yu-Ting Hsieh, and electrical and computer engineering graduate Jeff Borceorse share their plans.


June 11, 2011 | The Seattle Times
UW graduates to take 'qualities of youth' to real world

Graduate standing on shoulders   More than 4,500 students took part in June commencement at the University of Washington. Graduating senior Joey Jones, a civil engineer who is going to help the Dept. of Transportation inspect pontoons that will float the new Highway 520 bridge, is quoted on graduating students' job prospects.