Experts from the University of Michigan College of Engineering share some of the major advancements in tech that occurred in 2019 and what we can watch for in 2020.


Pilotless flight

Putting the AI in aviation 

Somewhere, in a parallel universe, there is an Ella Atkins who happily does her research on autonomy in aerial vehicles, licenses software to aircraft companies and generally makes airspace a safer place.



Channel Coding for Next Generation 5G and Beyond
With the help of two NSF awards totaling $1.7m, Prof. Hessam Mahdavifar is tackling new problems to improve the reliability of communication systems for 5G and beyond.


Fighting viruses 

Cold plasma can kill 99.9% of airborne viruses, U-M study shows

Dangerous airborne viruses are rendered harmless on-the-fly when exposed to energetic, charged fragments of air molecules, University of Michigan researchers have shown.

Researchers set up a lab-scale non-thermal plasma device

Professor Herek Clack and members of his team set up a lab-scale non-thermal plasma device. Image credit: Robert Coelius/Michigan Engineering

Election security

Halderman recommends actions to ensure integrity of US systems

In congressional testimony, U-M professor urges $370M in federal funding to replace outdated machines.



Beyond Apollo 11: U-M ECE’s role in advancing space exploration

For the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, U-M ECE took a look back – and a look forward – to how our professors, students, and alums have made their mark on the field.


Augmented reality

Student team brings augmented reality to the operating room

With the help of a VR headset, three students helped a doctor stay focused in the operating room.

CS students Mitchell Bigland, Nicholas Keuning, and Chase Austin

CS students Mitchell Bigland, Nicholas Keuning, and Chase Austin.


Carbon sequestering

Climate change: Why removing CO2 from the air isn’t enough

Switching to large scale renewable resources is the only way to curb extreme carbon capture costs.


Drug development 

How an AI solution can design new tuberculosis drug regimens

A new method could replace trial and error drug development. 


Artificial intelligence

Michigan team competes in Amazon challenge to make AI more engaging

The team of twelve students is one of ten worldwide working to give Amazon’s Alexa more human-like conversational skills.

Group photo of Alexa team

Group photo of the team’s twelve members and two advisors, rightmost on couch Profs. Nikola Banovic and David Jurgens.



Using swarms of drones to map and help fight wildfires

To monitor and stop the spread of wildfires, University of Michigan engineers developed UAVs that could find, map and report fires.


Machine learning

Enabling large-scale testing of cancer drugs with machine learning

Prof. Euisik Yoon and his team developed a new machine learning tool that enables large-scale testing of cancer drug effectiveness with microfluidics. 



Michigan takes first place at Exoskeleton Competition

Michigan took first place at this year’s Applied Collegiate Exoskeleton (ACE) competition held in Ann Arbor. While there are many uses for exoskeletons, or robotic suits, the ACE competition evaluates suits that are designed to serve first responders. 

Gurpreet Singh Kalsi undergoes obstacle test

CE Undergraduate Gurpreet Singh Kalsi undergoes the fourth obstacle test at the 2019 Applied Collegiate Exoskeleton Competition.



Computer vision: Finding the best teaching frame in a video for fake video fightback

The frame in which a human marks out the boundaries of an object makes a huge difference in how well AI software can identify that object through the rest of the video.


Resource management

Counting snowflakes for better water resource management

Mostafa Zaky has built an award-winning model that helps estimate the amount of water stored in snowpacks, which could improve climate change and flood forecasting, as well as overall water resource management.



Advancing microelectronics and systems for the security of the future

Dr. Jeremy Muldavin returned to campus as an ECE Distinguished Lecturer to speak about the Department of Defense’s Microelectronics Innovation for National Security & Economic Competitiveness initiative and related advanced secured electronics foundry challenges.

Future defense systems will require advanced microelectronic needs. Graphic by Jeremy Muldavin.


Privacy and encryption

How Let’s Encrypt doubled the percentage of secure websites in four years

The percentage of websites protected with HTTPS secure encryption has jumped from just over 40% in 2016 to 80% today. That’s largely due to the efforts of Let’s Encrypt, a non-profit certificate authority co-founded in 2013 by University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman.


Quantum computing

The new quantum spurs action by the Michigan Quantum Science & Technology Working Group

The new working group showcased Michigan’s strength in Quantum Science at a workshop attended by researchers throughout the University of Michigan.


Electronic racing 

Michigan Electric Racing Revs Up

MHybrid– a multidisciplinary, student-run organization – was founded in 2011 with the mission to design, build, test, and finance their own high-performance, hybrid-electric Formula-style race car. This year, they rebranded as Michigan Electric Racing (MER) and competed against teams from all over the world.

MER19 car

The MER19 was designed, built, and tested entirely by students.


Predictive movement 

Teaching self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement

By zeroing in on humans’ gait, body symmetry and foot placement, University of Michigan researchers are teaching self-driving cars to recognize and predict pedestrian movements with greater precision than current technologies.


Internet censorship 

New tool combats evolving internet censorship methods

Technology pioneered by Michigan researchers has made a promising advance toward widespread adoption.