Research Projects

Approximate Fictitious Play

Professor Ghate is currently working on a project titled “Approximate Fictitious Play for the Optimization of Complex Systems” funded by the National Science Foundation. The prevalence of advanced computing technology has resulted in increasingly complex simulation models of manufacturing, telecommunication, logistic, transportation, supply chain and other engineering systems. Such models often lack mathematical properties that have traditionally been essential to the development of efficient computational procedures for determining an optimal system design. Consequently, the need arises to develop new optimization algorithms that remain efficient even in the absence of these mathematical properties. This research investigates the analytical and practical potential of computationally efficient variants of Fictitious Play (FP), an iterative technique from the mathematical theory of learning, as an optimization paradigm to achieve this goal.

Dynamic Cancer Treatment Planning

Radiotherapy treatment plans attempt to maximize damage to tumor cells while simultaneously minimizing toxic effects on surrounding healthy cells. This is currently achieved by static optimization of intensity profiles of several radiation beams. Professor Ghate’s group has developed new dynamic formulations of these radiotherapy optimization problems and is currently working on control theoretic approaches for their solution. The ultimate goal is to exploit emerging advances in quantitative functional imaging to design treatment plans that dynamically adapt to a patient’s observed biological response to radiation over several weeks of therapy.

Food and Water Sustainability

Professor Beamon has been awarded a Fellowship in the joint Department of Global Health and College of the Environment focus on Climate Change and Global Health: Adaptive Solutions for Human Health and the Environment. She is one of eleven Faculty Fellows selected to participate in this initiative.  The faculty, who represent a wide range of disciplines across the University of Washington campus, will work on issues related to food and water sustainability.  Professor Beamon’s contribution to this project focuses on developing agent-based models for food security.  Agent-based models can include underlying FSC system structures as well as local, regional, and/or global food policies, all of which exist within an environment of environmental, economic, and social characteristics, such as climate shifts and unplanned supply disruptions.  Through her work, she hopes these models can be used to evaluate and improve the degree of food security resulting from various food supply strategies and policies.

Global Health Improvements in Mozambique

Professors Storch, Zabinsky, Mastrangelo and Ghate are involved in a collaborative project with the UW Department of Global Health,  aimed at improving the healthcare delivery system in Sofala Province, Mozambique. The ISE involvement includes modeling and analyzing human resource utilization, drug logistics, and system wide management decision-making.

Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Lab

At the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Lab, Professor Linda Ng Boyle's research emphasis is on investigating how people's behavior impacts their risk of injuries and mishaps. This includes exploring why drivers crash and why operator errors occur. Professor Boyle and her research assistants use a wide range of innovative analytical approaches to solve problems related to human factors and transportation systems.

Humanitarian Relief Efforts

Professor Beamon's work in humanitarian relief combines expertise in supply chain modeling and management with information technology, engaging researchers from the University of Washington and Penn State.  The research team is seeking to affect the way organizations handle humanitarian relief efforts.  With a research grant from the National Science Foundation, the team is hoping to have a global impact on how the world responds to disasters.

Large Scale Manufacturing

In a large assembly industry like shipbuilding, Professor Storch looks at the challenges companies face in adapting and implementing modern manufacturing approaches. A major on-going effort has involved the definition and adaptation of group technology and mass customization to this industry. In order to achieve productivity gains, the industry needs to move away from one-of-a-kind or custom production, to repeatability of interim products at the appropriate stage of production. The principles of group technology, applied to the manufacturing and assembly operations, and mass customization applied to design are critical. Recent work has focused on a new definition of the design process, which allows for rational decision-making in choosing the proper stage at which to employ mass customization, while still satisfying customer requirements for the end product. Other on-going work has involved the definition of lean principles for large assembly manufacturers, including flow, visual controls, quality and dimensional control, work station design, and material management.

Multivariate Quality Control

Professor Mastrangelo is continuing her on-going work in the area of modern quality technology. Specifically, she has been working in multivariate quality control applications to semiconductor manufacturing. She has also been involved in data analysis applied to emergency medical response delivery systems.

Naval Engineering Education Consortium

In order to increase the availability of engineers to support future naval engineering needs, this 15 University consortium will conduct a variety of research projects and outreach activities in conjunction with Navy laboratories around the country. The University of Washington activity is coordinated by Professor Storch. The project will involve students at all levels, including graduates, undergraduates and K-12.

National Shipbuilding Research Program

Professor Storch continues his long standing involvement in the National Shipbuilding Research Program, including participation in the Center of Excellence for Shipbuilding Technology. This Center supports research across a broad spectrum of topics, including distortion prevention in thin steel panels, laser welding and cutting technology, and wireless condition based maintenance applications.

Port Security

Professor Zelda Zabinsky and a team of graduate students are exploring the different options available to keep up with increasing global trade while protecting commercial businesses from threats of terrorist attacks, illegal immigration, illegal drugs and other contraband. In 2002 the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma handled a combined 2.9 million containers and are considered one of the top three largest load centers in the nation. Professor Zabinksy is working to develop security measures that will offer greater port security.

Port of Tacoma Efficiency

In order to better serve future and existing clients of the Port of Tacoma, a simulation study was performed to analyze sources of potential concern and overall system performance under increased demand. Professor Zelda Zabinsky is working in collaboration with the Port of Tacoma and Tacoma Rail to understand the implications of increased growth on delay times and resource utilization. Their efforts have been focused on developing a simulation model to accurately portray the Port activities, and incorporate techniques of statistical analysis to examine system performance under various scenarios.

Safety in Pacific Northwest Orchards

Professor Kailash (Kal) Kapur has been collaborating with researchers in the Department of Environmental Health on a project to identify and prevent injuries to workers in Pacific Northwest Orchards. In particular, this work has resulted in advances in ladder safety.