University of Arizona
University of Arizona Engineering Research

Solutions for Doing Good

Taking on today’s pressing challenges – intractable and emerging diseases, cybersecurity, aging infrastructures, big data management, and natural resources conservation, for example – requires expertise from many disciplines. So we focus our research on far-reaching, interdisciplinary team projects and connect our capabilities to the issues that most need our attention.

UA College of Engineering faculty and graduate students, and many undergraduates, are collaborating with researchers across the University of Arizona and around the globe on projects that improve quality of life.

Our research portfolio includes 100 projects with an annual expenditure of $28 million. Major sources of funding include NASA, the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. Among funders from private industry are Raytheon, Honeywell, Boeing, Texas Instruments, Edmund Optics, Ventana Medical Systems and Tucson Electric Power.


Solutions for doing good.

Focus Areas

  • Sustainability and Infrastructure – water reuse, energy storage, and infrastructure networks
  • Biomedical Systems and Devices – sensors and imaging, biomaterials and implants
  • Defense and Homeland Security – explosives detection, active flow control to improve flight, cybersecurity and wireless communication
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Materials – materials testing in extreme environments, computational models to predict materials properties, and mining logistics
Focus areas and featured projects

Featured Projects

Defense & Security

Encrypting Military Code

As part of a multimillion-dollar, multi-university DOD-funded project, Mark Neifeld and Ivan Djordjevic are researching quantum key encryption methods to secure communication through the air between ships and aircraft at data rates that support real-time exchange of secret information.

Defense & Security

Sidelining Hackers and Snoops

Salim Hariri is creating tools to track hackers and destroy their communications infrastructures. Fellow researchers are developing dynamic maps to visualize suspicious activity on computer networks and signature-free wireless transmissions to protect users from eavesdroppers.

Defense & Security

Finding Bombs in Baggage

Electrical and computer engineering researchers are working on a $3.7 million Homeland Security project to design a system based on compressive management that more effectively detects explosives, especially homemade bombs, for which airport X-ray systems are not optimized.


Getting Digital Data to Doctors

With $1.3 million and a top-priority ranking from the National Institutes of Health, Ali Bilgin and his co-PI Regents’ Professor Michael Marcellin, co-inventor of JPEG2000, are developing data compression software to make biomedical big data universally available.


Solving Mysteries of Wound Healing

UA associate professor Pak Kin Wong and his multidisciplinary research team have discovered how cells know to rush to a wound and heal it, opening the door to new treatments for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.


Making Rapid, Disposable Blood Tests

Professor Linda Powers, who has developed hand-held sensors to detect microbes and contaminants in air, soil and water, and her student research team are developing rapid, disposable blood tests for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.


Testing Wearable Sensors for Seniors

Biomedical engineers and clinicians at the University of Arizona are developing devices that reduce risk of falling and increase quality of life for older adults with balance and mobility issues.

Sustainability & Infrastructure

Recycling Tailings to Protect Miners

Moe Momayez, in collaboration with the UA College of Public Health, is converting mine tailings into mine insulation that protects workers from extreme temperatures in hot underground metal mines.

Sustainability & Infrastructure

Creating Water Reuse Technologies

Shane Snyder, who received a top award in 2015 from the Water Research Foundation, and his students are developing recycling and wastewater treatment technologies that could prove priceless for people living in arid regions.

Sustainability & Infrastructure

Exploring Algae Biofuels

The DOE has awarded $8 million to a multi-university team led by Kimberly Ogden to explore ways of mass producing algae biofuels and bioproducts for transportation, animal feed, fertilizer, bioplastics and pharmaceuticals.

Sustainability & Infrastructure

Advancing Low-Cost Solar Power

A multi-university team, supported by a $7 million DOE award and led by Peiwen “Perry” Li is working to achieve higher temperatures in molten salt transfer fluids for concentrated solar thermal power systems.

Manufacturing & Materials

Monitoring Operations, Efficiency

Ricardo Valerdi, who at 37 won a 2015 lifetime achievement award from the world’s leading cost-estimation professional society, invented the COSYSMO cost-estimation software widely used by the military and manufacturers to monitor operations and improve efficiency.

Manufacturing & Materials

Making Semiconductors Safely

For nearly 20 years, the Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, founded by Regents’ Professor Farhang Shadman, has been finding safer, more efficient ways to manufacture semiconductors.

Manufacturing & Materials

Taking Space Testing to the Source

Professor Kelly Simmons Potter and students in her lab have published several papers on how their fiber optics fared in space aboard MISSE-7. Colleague Erica Corral tests ceramic and composite materials destined for extreme environments in an oven that reaches 2000 degrees Celsius but never gets hot to the touch.

Connecting capabilities to the most pressing needs on Earth, and beyond

infinite possibilities
Research Magazine

See the College’s Arizona Engineering Research magazine for more information on these and other projects

Research Centers and Institutes

Arizona Materials Laboratory
The AML hosts a large array of equipment needed for research in materials science and engineering. This equipment is also available to the scientific community and industry.

Director: Pierre Deymier

Advanced Traffic and Logistics Algorithms and Systems
The ATLAS lab, which addresses problems in traffic congestion and transportation, is a good place to take a peek at what traffic and smart cars will be like in the future. Among other things, cars will drive themselves and electronic traffic cops will use blocks-long vision to direct traffic.

Director: Larry Head

Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy
AzRISE is a response to the challenge of planning for large-scale, affordable solar energy power generation and training the workforce that will make the transition possible. Research goals include identifying, funding and coordinating Arizona-specific solar energy research opportunities, developing intellectual property and promoting development and widespread adoption of solar energy.

Director: Kelly Simmons Potter

Broadband Wireless Access and Applications Center
BWAC researchers are developing technology and standards to overcome challenges associated with user access and spectrum ability to support the tremendous growth in wireless data traffic.

Director: Tamal Bose

Co-director: Marwan Krunz

Nano Fabrication and Processing Center
Several advanced research projects are underway in the Nano Fabrication and Processing laboratory, including research projects supported by the National Science Foundation, Sematech, and private sponsors. The Center for Micro Contamination Control and the Center for Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing also conduct major research in the laboratory.

Director: Omid Mahdavi

Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources
Recognizing that the sustainable development of mineral resources is fundamental to the prosperity of the United States in the next century, the IMR fosters and expands the USGS-university-private partnerships to undertake mineral resource scientific research and inventories.

Director: Mary Poulton

NSF/UA Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center
CAC’s research is focused on cloud computing systems and applications and the use of autonomic computing methods for the management of these and other IT systems.

Director: Salim Hariri

Co-director: Youssif Al Nashif

SRC Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing
Work in the SRC Engineering Research Center focuses on studies in the areas of ultrapure water, water recycling, plasma processes, wet chemicals, chemical-mechanical polishing and risk assessment to reduce the environmental impact of semiconductor manufacturing.

Director: Farhang Shadman

University Spectroscopy and Imaging Facilities
USIF is dedicated to the acquisition and analysis of images for life and physical science research and commercial applications. It provides access to multiuser equipment and the knowledge and skills necessary to assist investigators in academia, industry and at public and private institutions as well as students in use of the technology. 

Director: Brooke Beam Massani

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