of Washington College of Engineering
CoE NewsFlash  |  Vol. 4, No. 9  |  Jan. 3, 2011  

College of Engineering in the Media

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 Hannah Hickey at (206-543-2580,

Dec. 14, 2010   |  BusinessWeek (via Associated Press)
UW: Admiralty Inlet an ideal spot for tidal power

Nearly two years of monitoring show the Admiralty Inlet is an ideal place to harness tidal energy. Mechanical engineer Brian Polagye presented recent findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Jim Thomson, an assistant professor of civil engineering and oceanographer in the UW's Applied Physics Lab, is quoted.

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines  |  Dec. 13, 2010
Dec. 6, 2010   |  Scientific American
Testing the waters with tidal energy

Three years from now, a local utility hopes to begin converting a portion of that raw energy to electricity, part of a growing effort to harness the tides to power homes and businesses miles from the smell of salt air.

Underwater turbines could turn Puget Sound's tides into electricity  |  May 10. 2007
Aug. 26, 2010   |  KING 5
Camera paints colorful orca portrait

Infrared images of orcas at night paint more than a beautiful picture, they help UW researchers in mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering and applied physics track and study the endangered pods.

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines | Dec. 13, 2010
Oct. 14, 2010   |  KING 5
Tides could be tapped for clean energy

Some 30 meters down, near the mouth of Puget Sound's Admiralty Inlet, sits a device that is gathering information expected to unlock a powerful source of clean energy. The device was installed by mechanical engineer Brian Polagye, civil and environmental engineer Jim Thomson and colleagues to measure sound and currents 200 feet underwater.

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines | Dec. 13, 2010
Dec. 21, 2010   |  KING 5 News
UW students win $40,000 to help make water safe to drink

A team of UW students designed a way to instantly test the water left in the sun for safety. Electrical engineering doctoral student Charlie Matlack describes their creation.

Students' water-testing tool wins $40,000, launches nonprofit  |  Dec. 20, 2010
Dec. 24, 2010   |  Gizmag
Students design electronic device that indicates safe drinking water

The worldwide shortage of clean drinking water is a serious problem, although in many cases there’s a relatively simple solution – just leave the tainted water outside in clear plastic bottles, and let the sun’s heat and ultraviolet rays purify it.

Students' water-testing tool wins $40,000, launches nonprofit  |  Dec. 20, 2010
Dec. 28, 2010   |  PC World
Student-made device could bring clean water to the world

A device built by University of Washington students could help provide clean drinking water to poor countries. A $40,000 prize was shared by bioengineering doctoral graduate Jacqueline Linnes; electrical engineering doctoral student Charlie Matlack; Penny Huang, a senior in chemical engineering; and Chin Jung Cheng, then an undergraduate in chemical engineering and now a UW doctoral student in bioengineering. Electrical engineer Howard Chizeck was the faculty adviser.

Students' water-testing tool wins $40,000, launches nonprofit  |  Dec. 20, 2010
Dec. 19, 2010   |  Engadget
Kinect and haptics combine at the UW to let you feel the future (video)

BioRobotics Lab PhD student Hawkeye King and visiting graduate student Fredrik Rydén take the 3-D images created by Microsoft's Kinect gaming system and sense them with a 3-D haptic controller.

Engineering students hack Kinect for surgical robotics research |  Jan. 3, 2011
Dec. 26, 2010   |  MSNBC
Best of Microsoft Kinect hacks

Microsoft's Kinect game controller has become a darling of hackers and the kind of people who just love to take things apart. One of the featured hacks comes from UW's BioRobotics Laboratory, thanks to work by visiting graduate student Fredrik Ryden, doctoral student Hawkeye King, and electrical engineering faculty Howard Chizeck and Blake Hannaford.

Engineering students hack Kinect for surgical robotics research |  Jan. 3, 2011
Dec. 27, 2010   |
UW researchers using Kinect for remote surgery systems

Perhaps the most useful "hack" of Kinect is being developed by UW electrical engineers, who have rigged Microsoft's motion sensor for Xbox 360 to give a surgeon haptic feedback during remote operations.

Engineering students hack Kinect for surgical robotics research |  Jan. 3, 2011
Dec. 30, 2010   |  KIRO Radio
Could an Xbox Kinect lead to a medical breakthrough?

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Kinect gaming system earlier this year, the company called it "a revolution, not just for your games." Electrical engineer Howard Chizeck and his team showed that the device, or something similar, could be used in remote surgery.

Engineering students hack Kinect for surgical robotics research |  Jan. 3, 2011
Dec. 20, 2010   |  The New York Times
Five years in, gauging impact of Gates grants

Five years ago, Bill Gates made an extraordinary offer: he invited the world’s scientists to submit ideas for tackling the biggest problems in global health. Now the five years are up, and the foundation recently brought all the scientists to Seattle to assess the results and decide who will get further funding. Bioengineer Paul Yager is quoted.

'Astronaut food approach' to medical testing: Dehydrated, wallet-sized malaria tests promise better diagnoses in developing world. | Jan. 20, 2009

UW receives $15 million Grand Challenges in Global Health grant as leader of Pacific Northwest consortium to develop pocket-size diagnostic device. | July 7, 2005
Dec. 28, 2010   |  The New York Times
Managing scientific inquiry in a laboratory the size of the Web

The Internet is opening up new opportunities for so-called citizen scientists. One such project is Foldit, by computer scientist Zoran Popovic, that turns protein research into a game by offering Web users a puzzle in the form of a multicolored knot of spirals and clumps.

Gaming for a cure: Computer gamers tackle protein folding  |  Aug. 4, 2010
Dec. 18, 2010   |  The New York Times
Computational photography may help us see around corners

Computational photography aims to make lenses obsolete. An MIT project uses reflected light, computer processing and other tools to let it see around corners. Computer scientist Steve Seitz is quoted.

Rome was built in a day, with hundreds of thousands of digital photos |  Sept. 15, 2009
Dec. 21, 2010   |  The New York Times
Smarter, not faster, is the future of computing research

When China unveiled the world’s fastest supercomputer in October there was no shortage of hand-wringing in the United States. But priorities for U.S. computing research, according to a report to the White House and Congress, should include things such as new techniques for exploring large-scale data sets and algorithms for machine learning, rather than only speed. Ed Lazowska, a UW computer scientist and co-chair of the working group for the report, is quoted.

Dec. 15, 2010   |  Puget Sound Business Journal
UW prof: 737 successor will look similar

Aeronautical engineer Adam Bruckner appreciated the strikingly different design of the delta-winged Sonic Cruiser, which Boeing briefly proposed in 2001. But he says that for next 20 to 25 years we’ll continue to see airplanes that look like streamlined cylinders with conventional wings on them.

Dec. 19, 2010   |  The Everett Herald
All eyes on Boeing in next crucial year

With 25 percent of Boeing's work force eligible for retirement, the company and state are concerned about replacing those employees with skilled workers over the next decade. An industry group is asking the Legislature to boost student capacity in engineering programs at Washington universities. In 2009, UW's engineering program turned away 400 qualified applicants because of a lack of space.

Dec. 20, 2010   |  The (UK) Guardian
We need to get to the bottom of what mobile phones do to our health
In an op-ed piece, Tom Watson, Member of Parliament, writes about the impact of cell phones on human health. Henry Lai, research professor of bioengineering, is quoted.

Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by a University of Washington researcher  |  Nov. 30, 1999
Dec. 2, 2010   |  Nature News
Video microscopy reveals molecules in motion

A microscope developed by Harvard chemists that is capable of imaging 'naked' molecules — without linking them to bulky fluorescent probes — has had an upgrade and can now gather images at high speed. The team is now working with UW mechanical engineer Eric Seibel to miniaturize the fiber optic device.

Cancer diagnosis: Now in 3-D  |  Feb. 9, 2009
Dec. 16, 2010   |  Technology Review
Cell-seeded sutures to repair the heart

Researchers have developed a new kind of biological sutures, made from polymer strands infused with stem cells, that might help surmount two major obstacles to using stem cells to heal the heart: getting the cells to the right spot and keeping them there long enough to trigger healing. Bioengineer Chuck Murry is quoted.

A strategy to fix a broken heart  |  Aug. 9, 2010
Dec. 8, 2010   |  Redbook
Is your house making you ill?

As the weather cools, we shut our windows and batten down the hatches. But we may be closing ourselves in with nasty chemicals. Civil and environmental engineer Anne Steinemann offers some reasons to clean up indoor air pollution.

Scented consumer products shown to emit many unlisted chemicals  |  Oct. 26, 2010
Dec. 14, 2010   |  The Spokesman-Review
Phosphorus removal methods targeting types that spur algae
Not all of the phosphorus discharged from a wastewater treatment plant into the Spokane River contributes to oxygen-robbing algae blooms, according to a new study from civil engineer Michael Brett and graduate student Bo Li. Some of the phosphorus is in complex molecular forms and the algae don’t have the enzymes to break it down, said the study, which could have implications for future river cleanup plans.

Fish food fight: Fish don't eat trees after all, says new study  |  Nov. 23, 2009
Dec. 2, 2010   |  Puget Sound Business Journal: TechFlash blog
And the Flashies go to...

Electrical engineer and computer scientist Shwetak Patel beat out some big names, including Steve Ballmer, Ben Huh, Andy Sack, Paul Allen and Jeff Bezos, to capture the "Newsmaker of the Year" award. The researcher and entrepreneur said his next project may relate to sewage systems in homes.

UW energy- and water-sensing technology acquired by Belkin  |  April 22, 2010
Dec. 19, 2010   |  The New York Times Magazine
Granting anonymity

Transparency is secretive business. Tor is a deliberately byzantine system of virtual tunnels that conceal the origins and destinations of data, and thus the identity of clients. Jacob Appelbaum, a developer for Tor and now part-time research scientist in Yoshi Kohno's lab, is quoted.

Nov. 29, 2010   |  The New York Times (via ClimateWire)
Will a flood of tiny sensors help us cut emissions?

Advances in information technology have some companies dreaming of a world abuzz with sensors, some of which could reduce carbon emissions. Electrical engineer and computer scientist Josh Smith, who recently moved from Intel to the UW, discusses efforts to reduce sensors' power needs.

Nov. 27, 2010   |  Popular Mechanics
Six innovative robot hands

But in order to lend us a hand, robots will need some pretty impressive hands themselves. Engineers are up to the challenge, and over the past few years they have developed robotic hands with unprecedented dexterity, strength and sensitivity. Electrical engineer and computer scientist Josh Smith, previously at Intel, demonstrates his fish-inspired "hand with a sixth sense."

Dec. 15, 2010   |  IEEE Spectrum: Automation blog
Willow Garage sells first PR2 robots

Silicon Valley robotics company Willow Garage is announcing today that it has sold its first four PR2 robots, designed to let academics tinker with the controls. One of the robots is going to computer scientist and electrical engineer Josh Smith's UW lab.

Dec. 6, 2010   |  The (UW) Daily
Academic prodigies

Rahul Devanarayanan left eighth grade for college-level courses because he felt “disengaged.” The 15-year-old, who has just finished his first quarter at the UW, plans to major in electrical engineering and a foreign language.

Expert on gifted education to join College of Education, direct Robinson Center for Young Scholars  |  April 15, 2010
Dec. 15, 2010   |  Puget Sound Business Journal: TechFlash blog
Inspiring high school developers

Computer science alum Helen Martin, a computer science teacher at Garfield High School, writes that students from around the Puget Sound gathered at the UW for a battle of the minds. Martin, a member of the Puget Sound Computer Science Teachers Association, helped organize the biannual programming competition. Computer science lecturer Stuart Reges described Fermat’s Little Theorem and its role in cryptography before the three-hour problem-solving marathon.

Dec. 1, 2010   |  The (UW) Daily
UW undergraduates engineer new antibiotics, win first prize in international competition

With its creation of an anthrax-destroying protein and the engineering of microbe-targeting E. coli bacteria, a team of UW undergraduate students took home a first-place prize for an international genetic-engineering competition this month. Electrical engineer Eric Klavins, one of the faculty advisers, is quoted.

Undergraduates’ anthrax-killing protein wins international synthetic biology prize | Nov. 17, 2010
Aug. 28, 2010   |  KUOW
Ben Verellen: An amplified life

When Ben Verellen graduated from the University of Washington a few years ago with a degree in electrical engineering, he knew what he wanted: To keep one foot in the world of his studies and the other foot in the world of underground rock, where he'd been playing since he was 15.

Dec. 6, 2010   |  The New York Times
Eye for art and artistry among jigsaw's jumble

Younger people are getting into the rebounding jigsaw puzzle business. Electrical engineer Maya Gupta, 34, set up a laser-cutting puzzle business, Artifact Puzzles, last year. “I was hoping to find an audience that would be a lot like me — people who are technology professionals and want to get away from the computer,” Gupta said.


If you have a newsworthy result about one month from publication, presentation or demonstration, please contact Hannah Hickey, Notice of student and faculty awards and grants is also welcome.

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 in rocks    Tiny pumps for cooling chips     Surgical 
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