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, October 2011


Oct. 28, 2011 | Los Angeles Times
Bill Gates: How to be super-rich, or save the world trying

Bill Gates   Here at his hometown university, in the department of computer science and engineering, Thursday's atmosphere suggested a prince coming back from battle, holding court with the troops. Engineering majors and computer science grad students in beards and Facebook T-shirts were lining balconies around the lecture hall five stories high and massing on the open stairways.


Oct. 27, 2011 | GeekWire
Gates to students: Don’t try to be a billionaire, it’s overrated

But the appearance in the UW Computer Science & Engineering Department was most memorable for the question-and-answer session with students at the end — including one student who asked Gates for advice on how she could become rich like him.


Oct. 27, 2011 | Seattle Times
Bill Gates on being the top 1 percent, Fox News and taxes

Bill Gates   Bill Gates really cut loose during the question and answer portion of his lecture at the University of Washington's Paul G. Allen Center.


Oct. 18, 2011 | The Daily
Bridging the gap between human and machine

  A team at the UW has discovered a way to use an organic compound extracted from squid to create a transistor that may one day be compatible with biological systems, bridging the gap between human and machine.

Proton-based transistor could let machines communicate with living things | Sep. 20, 2011


Oct. 17, 2011 | Ars Technica
Redesign improves energy efficiency of supermarket cold food cases

Person grocery shopping   To try to reduce some of this wasted energy, a team of engineers at the University of Washington and Kettering University led by Mazyar Amin used physics to improve the designs of open-front refrigerator cases (it was his thesis project).

Improving the physics of grocery store display cases to save energy | Oct. 13, 2011


Oct. 13, 2011 |
Improving the physics of grocery store display cases to save energy

For his doctoral work at the University of Washington, aeronautical engineer Mazyar Amin used fluid dynamics to improve the energy efficiency of refrigerated grocery store display shelves.

Improving the physics of grocery store display cases to save energy | Oct. 13, 2011


Oct. 11, 2011 | The Daily
UW researchers find new approach to diagnosing malaria

  To diagnose malaria, scientists are currently using a lateral flow test, which uses one strip of paper to detect whether the patient’s blood sample contains proteins indicative of malaria. UW professor Paul Yager’s lab, in which Liang and Holstein work, developed a more sensitive malaria test with two additional strips, amplifying the proteins to clarify the test results.

'Astronaut-food approach' to medical testing: Dehydrated, wallet-sized malaria tests promise better diagnoses in developing world | Jan. 22, 2009


Oct. 24, 2011 | MSNBC: Future of Technology blog
Yeast adds vitamins to bread

Winning team   Students at the University of Washington created bacteria that produce constituents of diesel fuel and break down glutens.Whether any of these projects will become a marketplace success is unknown, but the field of synthetic biology is flush with innovation and these students are learning the skills necessary to be market leaders, according to MIT's Technology Review.

Campus news & notes: Enzyme makers | Oct. 26, 2011
Undergraduates’ anthrax-killing protein wins international synthetic biology prize | Nov. 17, 2010


Oct. 06, 2011 | KING-5
Head of UW computer science dept. on 'brilliance' of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs   During live interview via Skype, former computer science chair Ed Lazowska talks about the legacy of Steve Jobs, and discusses the left-brain and right-brain characteristics that made him brilliant. 'It is impossible to overstate his contribution,' Lazowska said.


Oct. 25, 2011 | New York Times
Ex-Apple Leaders Push the Humble Thermostat Into the Digital Age

Nest thermostat   The Nest Labs recruits come from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Logitech and other high-tech companies. Unlike other thermostat manufacturers, Nest Labs has a sizable team of specialists in the branch of artificial intelligence called machine learning, including Yoky Matsuoka, who came from Google and whose work won a MacArthur Foundation award.


Oct. 25, 2011 | Wired
Brave New Thermostat: How the iPod’s Creator Is Making Home Heating Sexy

Yoky Matsuoka   Included among Nest’s advisors is Stanford AI head and Google researcher Sebastian Thrun, who told Fadell and Rogers that the best person in the world to produce this complicated intelligence was Yoky Matsuoka, a 2007 MacArthur “genius” fellow and MIT-trained computer scientist who heads a University of Washington lab, and also was working on futuristic projects for the top-secret Google X division..


Oct. 25, 2011 | Forbes
Nest Labs: Can Apple alums make a thermostat hip?

The company has amassed an all-star roster of engineers and investors. Tony Fadell, the so-called father of the iPod and iPhone and former adviser to Steve Jobs, is the CEO. Yoky Matsuoka, a MacArthur genius grant winner and professor at the University of Washington, serves as vice president of efficiency algorithms.


Oct. 19, 2011 | The Economist: Babbage blog
Sensing a good vibe

Electrical engineer and computer scientist Shwetak Patel is set for a rip-roaring career extracting meaning—and dollars—from noise. Listen carefully; you can expect to hear more from him.

Visionary innovator wins MacArthur 'genius' award | Sep. 20, 2011


Oct. 18, 2011 | Seattle Magazine
Seattle's most influential people of 2011

Shwetak PAtel   Thanks to a soon-to-be-released technology using sensors developed by Zensi, an energy-monitoring startup founded by University of Washington assistant professor and 2011 MacArthur Fellow Shwetak Patel, consumers will soon be able to monitor how much electricity, water and gas their homes use—right down to a gas-guzzling heater or water-wasting spigot.

Visionary innovator wins MacArthur 'genius' award | Sep. 20, 2011


Oct. 14, 2011 | US News & World Report
Device to measure energy use

"It monitors the minute water pressure fluctuation in your home from that one location and then toilet, dishwasher, shower use can be broken down," says Shwetak Patel, whose other research projects have received National Science Foundation funding. "It gives you information in real time, so you can make decisions about what is happening."

Visionary innovator wins MacArthur 'genius' award | Sep. 20, 2011


Oct. 28, 2011 | The Seattle Times
Through STEM, make opportunities for Washington's own children and businesses

Ed Lazowska   Washington state is a center of new innovation jobs and major importer of people with college degrees to take jobs. Guest columnists Rosemary McAuliffe and Ed Lazowska urge Washington students, parents, policy and elected leaders to wake up to the opportunity.


Oct. 05, 2011 | Christian Science Monitor
Crowdsourcing science: how gamers are changing scientific discovery

FoldIt screen   FoldIt represents a unique approach toward engaging citizen scientists, and it is the latest innovation in a decade-long trend – researchers enlisting everyday people and their personal computers to take part in humanity's scientific enterprise.

Gamers succeed where scientists fail | Sep. 19, 2011


Oct. 07, 2011 | The Washington Post
Google’s Dead Sea Scrolls is latest crowdsourcing project

Dead Sea Scrolls   The posting of the scrolls for the masses is the latest example of academic crowdsourcing. Last month, UW researchers reported in Nature that gamers had successfully solved a puzzle that AIDS researchers had struggled with for years.

Gamers succeed where scientists fail | Sep. 19, 2011


Oct. 09, 2011 | The Spokesman Review
Guest opinion: A guide of, by and for voters

Living Voters Guide logo   This year voters across Washington have a unique opportunity to share their knowledge, listen to the other side, and contribute their information to the mix. The Living Voters Guide is available online at to help people consider their choices and debate the issues with each other in a civil fashion, without the hype and hyperbole of campaign ads and polarizing media talk shows.

Living Voters Guide updated for November election | Oct. 26, 2011
‘Living Voters Guide’ invites Washington voters to hash out ballot initiatives | Oct. 04, 2010


Oct. 11, 2011 | New York Times: Bits blog
In supercomputing, a turn to energy-saving graphics chips

Bits Blog logo   Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a major scientific computing center run by the Energy Department, took a big step down a different road with an announcement on Tuesday. It said it would deploy a new energy-efficient supercomputer, called Titan, whose design relies heavily on the use of many thousands of graphics processors — the kind of chips originally designed for gaming.


Oct. 13, 2011 | Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Making cars more hacker-proof

Researchers led by Stefan Savage at the University of California, San Diego and Tadayoshi Kohno at the University of Washington succeeded in infiltrating automotive computer systems that are standard in every new car and truck.

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


Oct. 14, 2011 | Science Business
Students start company to commercialize biochar process

Students at University of Washington in Seattle are taking to market a new process to turn forestry waste into biochar, a charcoal-like substance that boosts agricultural yields. Their company, C6 Systems, is also a recipient of one of the first Innovation Corps grants from National Science Foundation.

Turning slash piles into soil benefit | Oct. 06, 2011


Oct. 20, 2011 | GeekWire
Better typing while walking, and other cool stuff from UW students

Gabe Cohn   Students from the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering Department have figured out how to adjust the sensing mechanism behind a mobile keyboard to take into account the effects of walking — making it easier to accurately text a friend or send an email from a phone while on the move.


Oct. 23, 2011 | Seattle Times
Amazon weathering Kindle Fire privacy worries

Kindle Fire   The Kindle Fire doesn't go on sale until Nov. 15, but tech experts began questioning the privacy risks of its Silk browser shortly after the device was unveiled. Computer scientists Hank Levy and Steve Gribble are quoted.


Oct. 28, 2011 | USA Today: College blog
Colleges weigh going digital

Student using iPad   Some colleges are experimenting this fall with iPads in the classroom. Alex Thayer, a doctoral student at the UW in the Human Centered Design and Engineering program, comments on classroom use of the Amazon Kindle.

College students’ use of Kindle DX points to e-reader’s role in academia | May. 02, 2011


Oct. 25, 2011 | The Atlantic
A conversation with Bruce Rittmann, sustainability scientist

I had never heard of anything like this, but I quickly realized that his [David Stahl's] skills would transform our field. Seeing that opportunity had knocked -- literally -- I immediately began working with David. He and I introduced molecular microbial ecology to environmental engineering, and it is now the heart of all advanced research in environmental biotechnology.


Oct. 05, 2011 | Seattle Times
Experts: City Light's downed power lines could have led to blast

Rich Christie, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, said that under the right circumstance — wet soil, a pipeline nearby — even a short-duration charge from a downed distribution line could be enough to electrify a steel gas pipe. 'My opinion is it's at least believable,' Christie said. 'Dropping a conductor on the ground seems credible.'


Oct. 20, 2011 | Forbes
The high-stakes math behind the west's greatest river

Generator room of Bonneville Dam   The Columbia is a river of colossal proportions, and managing its flow is complicated. Climate change presents another possible confounding factor. A study by UW civil engineers suggested that the Columbia’s cycle will shift forward so that snowmelt and its accompanying surge in river volume will happen a month earlier.

Managing Pacific Northwest dams for a changing climate | Jan. 21, 2010


Oct. 12, 2011 | The Seattle Times
One Bus Away: Popular app gets a boost

Brian Ferris   Transit agencies and the University of Washington are spending $150,000 to keep the popular One Bus Away online application going another 13 months.

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


Sep. 29, 2011 | Kirkland Reporter
520 tolls: Good to go?

Civil engineer Mark Hallenbeck, director of the University of Washington’s transportation research center, describes what’s essentially an accounting morass. Whatever software is used, he explained, has to keep track of everything from expiring credit-card dates to matching cars and owners so bills can be mailed, involving tracking ownerships through 50 states and even internationally, perhaps to Canada or elsewhere.


Oct. 14, 2011 | Everett Herald
Meet one of the pilots who puts Boeing jets through their paces

Heather Ross   When Heather Ross was earning her bachelor's degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Washington in the early 1980s, she was one of five women in a graduating class of 50. She was the only woman in her U.S. Air Force pilot training class of 22 students.


Oct. 22, 2011 | Washington Post (via Associated Press)
Collection or clutter? How to decorate with a collector in the house

Duck collection   Charlotte Lee, a University of Washington professor of human centered design and engineering, is in the Guinness World Records for her rubber duck collection — all 5,239 of them and counting.