University of 
Washington College of Engineering
CoE NewsFlash  |  Vol. 4, No. 3  |  June 25, 2010  

NewsFlash: 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,

  June 11, 2010   |  Time (via Associated Press)
Team: Much more oil gushing from well than thought

Researchers studying the flow of oil from the blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico said this week that up to twice the amount of oil previously thought may have been spewing into the sea since a BP oil rig exploded in April. Mechanical engineer Alberto Aliseda, a member of the government panel estimating the rate of flow, is quoted.

UW engineers help U.S. government estimate seepage rate of Gulf oil spill  |  June 3, 2010
  June 3, 2010   |  KIRO 7 News
Disaster in the Gulf

Mechanical engineers Jim Riley and Alberto Aliseda are helping the U.S. government estimate how much oil is flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. Riley and postdoctoral researcher Oscar Flores describe their calculations beginning at 6:50.

UW engineers help U.S. government estimate seepage rate of Gulf oil spill  |  June 3, 2010
  June 15, 2010   |  The Washington Post
Oil-spill flow rate estimate surges to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day

The official estimate of the flow rate from the leaking gulf oil well has surged again, with government officials announcing that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil are now gushing each day from the reservoir deep beneath the gulf. Mechanical engineer Jim Riley, a member of the government panel, is quoted.

UW engineers help U.S. government estimate seepage rate of Gulf oil spill  |  June 3, 2010
  June 16, 2010   |  The Seattle Times
Another day, another estimate: 2.5M gallons may be spewing

The number keeps changing, and the news keeps getting worse: The oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico now could be flowing at more than 2.5 million gallons per day, according to government experts. Mechanical engineer Jim Riley, a member of the government panel, is quoted.

UW engineers help U.S. government estimate seepage rate of Gulf oil spill  |  June 3, 2010
  June 10, 2010   |  The Economist
Power from thin air

It is already possible to send electricity without wires. Can devices be powered using ambient radiation from existing broadcasts? Last year UW affiliate professor of computer science and electrical engineering Joshua Smith, electrical engineering graduate student Alanson Sample and computer science undergraduate Scott Southwood powered a small humidity and temperature sensor using nothing more than the energy gleaned from a TV station 2.5 miles away. Smith and Southwood appear in the video at 6:30.

  June 1, 2010   |  Fast Company magazine
Fast Company's "Most Creative People" 2010

"Cut a slit in a tennis ball and fill it with beans and small rocks." That's civil and environmental engineer Jessica Lundquist's first step to creating a $30 version of a $10,000 scientific weather station.

Low-cost temperature sensors, tennis balls to monitor mountain snowpack  |  Dec. 14, 2009
  April 1, 2010   |  Conservation Magazine
Up Up and Away

As pikas and other alpine species are pressured by global warming, many observers warn they will be pushed higher and higher until they vanish like deserving souls into the ether. But new science suggests the "rapture hypothesis" doesn't tell the whole story. Civil and environmental engineer Jessica Lundquist comments on mountain microclimates.

Low-cost temperature sensors, tennis balls to monitor mountain snowpack  |  Dec. 14, 2009
  June 1, 2010   |  IEEE Spectrum
The future of hydropower

Predicting river flows in decades to come is tough, especially in a changing climate, but there's still lots of hydropower potential to be had. Civil and environmental engineer Dennis Lettenmaier is quoted.

Water planners call for fundamental shift to deal with changing climate  |  Jan. 31, 2008
  June 24, 2010   |  Daily Journal of Commerce
Green roads could be new market for contractors

UW professor Steve Muench, lead author of the Greenroads program, says roads are 15 years behind green buildings -- but are quickly catching up.

'Greenroads' rates sustainable road projects  |  Jan. 13, 2010
  June 18, 2010   |  Discovery News
Mind-controlled robot uses human brainwaves

University of Washington researchers have developed a mind-controlled robot that operates on human brainwaves. Computer scientist Rajesh Rao, graduate student Johnathan Lyon and undergraduate Mike Chung demonstrate the system.

Brain-controlled cursor doubles as a neural workout  |  Feb. 15, 2010
  May 25, 2010   |  CBC (Canada) News
Human-machine mergers promising, but reality yet to live up to hype

Computer scientist Rajesh Rao's Neural Systems Group is experimenting with a small humanoid robot controlled by sensors worn outside the head. Imprecise signals from many neurons — detectable without an invasive implant — can direct an intelligent robot to pick up an object.

Researchers demonstrate direct brain control of humanoid robot  |  Dec. 14, 2006
  June 17, 2010   |  The New York Times
Putting a private detective in your laptop

For the very reason you like to carry laptops, iPads, e-book readers and smartphones — they are lightweight and portable — they are easy to steal or misplace. You can keep an eye on your devices and not leave them visible and unattended, but they might best be protected with some software. A number of good programs are available, including Adeona, developed by computer scientists Yoshi Kohno and Arvind Krishnamurthy.

Just in time for school: Free Adeona service tracks stolen laptops  |  Sept. 25, 2008
  June 12, 2010   |  Die Welt (Germany)
Wenn Autobremsen von fremder Hand blockiert werden

If you read German, you can learn what German daily newspaper Die Welt ("The World") has to say about computer scientist Yoshi Kohno's research on the security of modern cars.

Media alert: Presentation on the security of modern automobiles  |  May 18, 2010
  June 15, 2010   |  Puget Sound Business Journal: TechFlash blog
Sixteen teams chosen to compete in the Northwest Cleantech Open

UW mechanical engineering spinoffs Nanocel and EnVitrum are among sixteeen startup teams chosen to participate in the Pacific Northwest edition of the Cleantech Open, a competition which awards innovation in the clean tech sector.

Student clean-tech innovations impress at UW Environmental Innovation Challenge  |  April 8, 2010
  June 1, 2010   |  Communications of the ACM
Beyond the smart grid

Work done by Shwetak Patel, a UW assistant professor in computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering, and colleagues can extrapolate electrical, water, and gas use of individual devices by measuring the "shock waves" created when consumers turn on the devices that use those utilities.

UW energy- and water-sensing technology acquired by Belkin  |  April 22, 2010
  June 12, 2010   |  KUOW Radio
Destination: Mars

In recent years we've learned that water, in the form of ice, is present on Mars. And that presence means life is possible. Aeronautics and astronautics engineer Adam Bruckner discusses the possibility of a UW branch campus on Mars.

  June 14, 2010   |  Puget Sound Business Journal
UW wins $12.6M stem cell research grant
Bioengineer Charles "Chuck" Murry has received a $12.6 million federal grant to study how stem cells could help repair cardiovascular damage.

UW Medicine researchers receive $12.6 million grant to fund work in stem cells, cardiovascular repair  |  June 14, 2010
June 16, 2010   |  Time magazine: Ecocentric blog
A San Francisco regulation raises the question: Do cell phones cause cancer?

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has voted to require all retailers to display the amount of radiation a phone emits, a regulation that's believed to be the first in the U.S. The science around mobiles and brain cancer remains muddled. There's no clearly proven risk, but there is enough evidence to be concerned, especially about young users or those on their phone all day long. Research by bioengineer Henry Lai is cited.

Rats exposed to cell phone microwaves suffer long-term memory loss, according to new study by a University of Washington researcher  |  Nov. 30, 1999
  June 9, 2010   |  KUOW Radio
On shaky ground: Built to last?

The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile showed the difference that modern building codes can make. A discussion about retrofitting Seattle's historic buildings includes comments from civil engineer Charles Roeder about upgrading buildings downtown or on the UW campus.

Infrastructure Experts: Engineers who can speak on building and bridge safety  |  Aug. 6, 2007
  June 23, 2010   |  The Seattle Times
Drilling a Highway 99 tunnel thrills industry pros

While many in Seattle worry about costs and risks of the world's widest bored tunnel beneath downtown, industry legend Martin Herrenknecht can hardly contain his desire to drill. Steven Kramer, civil-engineering professor and seismic expert, comments on the soil conditions along the proposed route.

  May 28, 2010   |  The (UW) Daily
UW Water Center to close this summer

After almost a quarter-century in operation, the Water Center, a one-stop shop for water-management issues on campus, is shutting down June 30.

  May 28, 2010   |  Chronicle of Higher Education
Crowd science reaches new heights
Crowd Science, as it might be called, began in astronomy but is taking hold in several other disciplines, such as biology, and is rising rapidly in oceanography and a range of environmental sciences. Computer scientist Ed Lazowska is quoted.

  Jan. 1, 2010   |  Prism Magazine
Not what students need

Recent findings from a long-term study of U.S. engineering undergraduate students, one of the clearest windows to date on the state of undergraduate engineering education, suggest that the familiar routes may not always serve today’s students or society. Co-investigator Cindy Atman, professor of Human-Centered Design and Engineering, is quoted.

Engineering overdrive: Undergrads in field overworked, not informed about their major, study finds  |  July 5, 2007
  June 3, 2010   |  The (UW) Daily
A guide to UW’s lesser-known libraries

Face it: Odegaard is barely more than a social scene. So where is a person supposed to study? One option is the Engineering Library, with a picturesque view of Lake Union and the mountains to the east.

  May 12, 2010   |  KING 5 News
Fremont is home to over 5,000 rubber ducks

Charlotte Lee is an assistant professor of human-centered design and engineering at the University of Washington. She's super smart, driven, commands attention. But that's not all. KING 5's Evening Magazine reveals that she also owns the world's largest collection of rubber ducks.


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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