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UW CSE Leadership Seminar Series

LSSEach year, UW CSE’s Leadership Seminar Series brings alumni and friends back to campus to impart career success lessons from the school of hard knocks to upper-division undergraduates. This evening we thanked Bay Area participants in 2015’s Leadership Seminar Series at a dinner in San Francisco. Left-to-right: Erin Walker, Ed Lazowska, Ph.D. alum Brian Pinkerton (A9), Bachelors alum Mohamed El-Zohairy (NileTap -> CloudPress -> News Corp), Dan Grossman, Bachelors alum Brandon Ballinger (Google -> Sift Science -> healthcare.gov).

Thanks for giving back!

June 26, 2015

UW CSE @ Sift Science

JasonOn Friday, Dan Grossman and Ed Lazowska visited UW CSE alum Jason Tan, co-founder and CEO of Bay Area startup Sift Science – bringing machine-learning-powered fraud detection to online merchants of all sizes.Jason & Ed

June 26, 2015

Eric Lander: “The Miracle Machine”

eric-lander-lab_6c81d9eb5d51We had missed this stupendous talk that Eric Lander (Broad Institute) gave in April at the National Math Festival gala dinner at the Library of Congress:

“There are bills in Congress to ensure the accountability of taxpayer dollars invested in science, to ensure that dollars are stretched efficiently and effectively – I quote from websites here – to ensure ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency.’ There are proposals that the National Science Foundation be required to publish a justification of each and every grant’s scientific merits and relevance to the broad national interest – that is, to the economy or defense.

“Now, how could you possible disagree with such prudent investing of American dollars? How could you possibly disagree with accountability, transparency? If I’m investing in real estate, I want to see a clear path to a return on my investment. If I’m investing in a start-up company, I might be willing to wait for a few years before I get my return, but I want to see a clear business plan. If I’m investing in building roads and bridges for a country, I’d like a clear connection between social investment and social return. So what can possibly be wrong with wanting to have a clear case for precisely how investments in basic research will pay off?

“The answer is: absolutely everything! Everything is wrong with it. Applying this kind of filter to basic research is a terrible strategy. It’ll guarantee that you will have ordinary returns – projects that pay off, at an ordinary rate. In the short term, you’ll get outputs. But you will miss the extraordinary returns. Fundamental research is fundamentally different than any other kind of investment. We’re all still struggling to understand it, but it is a remarkable thing: because time and time again, we’ve found that basic research can pay huge, out-of-proportion returns.”

Read the whole thing! It’s here.

June 26, 2015

UW CSE @ Apple


Clockwise from lower left: Owen Anderson, Susumu Harada, Dan Grossman, Lara Littlefield, Dave Richardson, Peter Stackle, Rob Bedichek, Caitlin Bonnar, Ed Lazowska, Josh Scotland, Erik Turnquist, and Jean Wu. Behind the camera: Erin Walker.

UW CSE professors Dan Grossman and Ed Lazowska plus UW CSE outreach staff Lara Littlefield and Erin Walker engaged in a lunchtime discussion on Friday with some of UW CSE’s alums at Apple: Owen Anderson, Rob Bedichek, Caitlin Bonnar (grad student and summer intern), Susumu Harada, Dave Richardson, Josh Scotland, Peter Stackle, Erik Turnquist, and Jean Wu.

Many thanks to Rob Bedichek for hosting!

June 26, 2015

UW’s Josh Smith and wireless robot recharging featured in The Economist

Josh SmithThe latest issue of The Economist asks, “Electronics has already cut the data cord. Can it now cut the power cord as well?” Based in part on the work of CSE and EE professor Joshua Smith, the answer may soon be “yes.” Josh, who heads the UW Sensor Systems Lab, has developed a system for dynamic wireless charging of robots – and started a company, Wibotic, to commercialize the new technology. From the article:

“Drones may one day transform the way parcels are delivered, crops monitored and suspects apprehended. Those who talk up these possibilities, though, often neglect to mention the drawbacks of such robot aircraft – one of which is that most cannot fly for more than a quarter of an hour before they need to find a human being to swap their batteries for them or plug them into an electrical socket.

“Joshua Smith, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, in Seattle, hopes to change that. In May he started a company called Wibotic that plans to recharge drones (and also earthbound robots) without them having to establish an awkward physical connection with a plug.”

The article goes on to explain how the system Josh developed, which employs circuits that are tuned to the same resonant frequency, is a more efficient and flexible alternative to traditional induction systems that rely on simple transmitting and receiving coils. While the basic idea behind resonant induction is not new, Josh’s approach – which works over greater distances and can be tuned to different conditions – represents a significant step forward for wireless power transmission.

Read the full article here.

June 26, 2015

UW CSE Bay Area alumni event – phenomenal!

Crowd from back

The alums listened to him anyway! In fact, they sang to him! (We’ll spare you the audio …)

Hank bday

It was Hank’s birthday!

Nearly 200 UW CSE Bay Area alums turned out on the evening of Thursday June 25 for an event generously hosted by our friends at Twitter.

UW CSE faculty Hank Levy, Ed Lazowska, Luis Ceze, Dan Grossman, Jeff Heer, and Zach Tatlock attended (along with former faculty Bay Area residents Carl Ebeling, Alon Halevy, David Salesin, and Marty Stepp).

Are you a Bay Area alum who didn’t hear about this event? It’s because you don’t check our Bay Area Facebook page, and don’t have a Bay Area address or functional email address registered in the UW system. You can fix those things here.


Alex Roetter, Sr. VP of Engineering, describes some of Twitter’s engineering challenges

Are you a Bay Area alum who heard about this event but didn’t attend? Shame on you!

Hank, Ed, and Dan also met 1:1 with a number of alums during a two-day swing through the Bay Area.

And Hank and Ed participated in a hugely informative vision session on Friday morning convened by Ph.D. alum Jeff Dean (Google) and including alums and friends Corey Anderson (Google), Greg Badros (Prepared Mind Innovations, formerly Facebook and Google), Forest Baskett (New Enterprise Associates), John Davis (Pure Storage, formerly Microsoft Research), Alan Eustace (Google, ret.), Brian Pinkerton (A9), Theron Tock (NetCitadel), Bud Tribble (Apple), and Amin Vahdat (Google).


Thanks to Twitter for hosting our Bay Area alumni event this year!

It’s exhilarating to spend concentrated time with our friends and alums!!

June 26, 2015

Trends in the first-choice major of incoming UW freshmen

Engineering majors

CSE vs. other majors in the College of Engineering

We’ve just received data on the first-choice major of UW’s Class of 2019 – students who will enter in September 2015.

Interest in CSE among incoming freshmen totally blows away interest in every other major offered by programs in the College of Engineering – triple the second-place major!

Interest in CSE among incoming freshman also blows away every other science major offered by programs in the College of Arts & Sciences – in the physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and mathematical sciences. Plus Informatics.

Among all UW programs, only the Foster School of Business is the first choice among more incoming freshmen than CSE – and we’ll blow by them next year.

Importantly, our introductory courses – which enrolled 5,000 students this year – “convert” many students who did not enroll intending to become a CSE major. 58% of the women who become our majors did not have that intention when they first enrolled in CSE 142, our “CS1″ course. So “incoming freshman intent” vastly under-states the demand for CSE.

Students are smart – they understand which field offers the greatest opportunity to change the world!

Other STEM

CSE vs. majors in the physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, mathematical sciences, and business

June 24, 2015

Summer camps combine athletics and computer science

ct-summer-camp-coding-met-jpg-20150619A Chicago Tribune article on a new trend: summer athletic camps for youngsters that include computer science as a break between dodgeball and archery:

“Professions from anthropology to zoology are increasingly becoming information fields, so the ability to program a computer for use within a discipline becomes an advantage, said Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.

“Lazowska also points to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which say that 71 percent of all new jobs in STEM fields in the next decade will be in computer science.

“And even if students never go into the technology fields, those who learn to code also learn ‘computational thinking’ – the ability to analyze problems and debug, among other skills which are valuable in many settings, Lazowska said.

“‘It’s not that kids should be learning this because they want to be going to work at Google and Microsoft and Facebook,’ Lazowska said. ‘It’s rather because computational thinking is a critical reasoning capability, and programming is how we teach it and how you learn it.'”

Read more here (registration required).

June 20, 2015

Elson Floyd, March 1 1956 – June 20 2015

6-20-15Elson Floyd, indeed, “led Washington State University to unparalleled growth and success.”

As UW President Ana Mari Cauce said, “We are all Cougars today.”

Read more here.

June 20, 2015

KUOW: UW CSE recognized for recruiting women to Computer Science

convo081213uwA KUOW interview from last month has finally made it to the web. Ross Reynolds interviews Crystal Eney, UW CSE’s Director of Student Services, about how UW CSE achieved a rate of female enrollment that’s nearly double the national average, which earned recognition from the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

Great interview – listen here.

June 19, 2015

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