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Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science


Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science


Research Projects at the University of Denver

The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science at the University of Denver is home to world-class faculty members and researchers. The school emphasizes collaboration across departments and disciplines for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. The Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science recognizes the competitive marketplace, embraces cultural differences and diversity, and understands the evolving technological needs of the world community and the global economy. Below you can read, watch videos, see photos and learn about our cutting-edge research, state of the art equipment, laboratories, and our unique research centers and institutes.

DU Aerosol Group

One of the planes used for the Aerosol Group Projects

John Evans Professor Dr.Wilson leads the the University of Denver Aerosol Group. This research group develops and builds instruments and sampling inlets that we and other groups then use to study aerosols. Most of our measurements are made from aircraft platforms. Aerosols are collections of particles suspended in gas. The atmospheric aerosol comes from natural processes and human activities. The particles found in the air are very diverse in origin and chemical composition as the following examples show. Near the seashore, salt particles are abundant. Down wind of volcanic eruptions, we often find rocks, ash and sulfuric acid particles. High up in the atmosphere, meteors leave tiny debris particles in their wake as they burn up. We often live with the particulate results of combustion, construction and industry. In some places, the aerosol strongly resembles gasoline. Denver's brown cloud contains contributions from sources including the sand used on the streets, combustion products and particles formed from combustion products. SO2 emitted by power plants and other sources is oxidized to sulfuric acid that forms particles in the atmosphere. The concentration and size of atmospheric particles also vary dramatically. In the stratosphere, we often find fewer than 10 particles/cm3, but near a poorly designed or maintained diesel engine, the concentration can exceed a million particles/cm3. We measure particle diameters from 4 nm (1 nm= 10-9m) to 10 micrometer (1 micrometer = 10-6m).

Aerosol can affect many things we care about from human health to the manufacture of integrated circuits. The DU Aerosol Group has frequently studied the role of particles in stratospheric ozone depletion and in global climate change. We also study the sources and formation of pollution particles in urban and industrial settings, the emissions of aircraft and rockets and the processes that maintain the stratospheric aerosol. Many of these phenomena occur over a large scale, and we have made measurements at altitudes from sea level to over 70,000 ft (20 km). Our instruments have flown on NASA's ER-2, WB-57f and DC-8 research aircraft, NCAR's Gulfstream V. The German DLR has flown our instruments on their Falcon. The DU Low Turbulence Inlet is flown on the NOAA WP-3D, the NCAR C-130 and the UK Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council FAAM aircraft (BAe-146). We have gone to Sweden, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Alaska, Maine, California, the Virgin Islands, Japan, Costa Rica and points in between in pursuit of particles. Our instruments have gone to the North Pole and Antarctica without us.

Our instruments use light scattered from individual particles or controlled condensation of vapors on small particles followed by light scattering to tell us how many particles there are and how big they are. Our instruments and inlets are autonomous and computer controlled. They have passed the air-worthiness requirements of Lockheed-Martin, NASA, NOAA and NCAR, BAe Systems. Please browse our web site for additional information about our instruments, people, deployments, data analysis, aircraft platforms, or publications.

Check out the Aerosol Group here!  


DU Unmanned Systems Research Institute (DU²SRI)

The DU Unmanned Systems Research Institute team
The DU Unmanned Systems Research Institute (DU²SRI), formerly known as the DU Unmanned Systems Lab, was established in November of 2012 to promote knowledge, education, research and development in unmanned systems. The Institute contributes to advancing higher education benefiting students, scientists, researchers, engineers, practitioners and end-users, also advancing the state-of-the-art in unmanned systems. It is the vision of the Institute to collaborate with Spaceport Colorado and to play a key role in the State's efforts to push forward the frontiers of unmanned systems, which will result, among other things, in building the next generation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to be gradually integrated into the National Airspace.

In further detail, the Institute objectives are to: Educate students, scientists, researchers, engineers, practitioners and end-users, who are interested in learning and advancing their knowledge about UAS, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Ground Vehicles, and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs); Conduct, coordinate, and promote research in building the next generation of unmanned systems in general and UAS in particular that will be used for a wide spectrum of civil/public domain applications; Function as the focal point within the State of Colorado for basic and applied research and development activities in unmanned systems; Serve as a demo site for unmanned vehicles; Provide the foundations for technology transfer to the private sector; Contribute to paving the way towards gradual integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS), also assisting third parties to obtain Certificates of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); Participate in State-wide UAS research and development initiatives offering its know-how and expertise; Assist in economic development and creation of new jobs by graduating the next generation of highly skilled scientists and engineers, ready to compete in a very demanding global market; Bridge the gap between military and civilian application domains.

Watch the UAVs in action!

Enhancing Physical and Mental Abilities through Medical Engineering

Eye Tracker Project
The field of biomedical devices is expanding its role into therapeutics through local medication and treatments. Engineers, computer scientists and medical researchers are strengthening their collaborations to develop smarter joints, smarter implants, smarter artificial organs, and smarter organ repair, while tracking and understanding the complex connections within the human brain that could result in new therapies for Down Syndrome, Autism, Parkinson's Disease, and Alzheimer's Disease. Through medical engineering, the Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science faculty and students are developing transformative technologies that will result in life style management for the elderly and disabled, and new medical and diagnostic technologies for the treatment of neuro-psychiatric conditions.  

A team of senior DU engineering and computer science students were selected as one of six finalists to compete in a national design project sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering. The students, in collaboration with Craig Hospital and faculty across three academic departments, have developed a low-cost device to control a computer or iPad using eye motions, allowing paraplegic patients with traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries the ability to communicate electronically. The students' design will reduce the purchase price for the device from over $5,000 to a little over $100 per unit, thereby making the technology available to virtually everyone who needs it. The competition will took place this summer at the ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference in Puerto Rico.

Watch a Senior Design Project: "Eye Tracker System"

Computer Vision & Pattern Recognition, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

Computer Vision NAQ Robot
The University of Denver has an active research group in Computer Vision, Pattern Recognition and Image Understanding. We are working on fundamental problems in this field and their applications to Robotics, Psychology and Developmental Learning, as well as Security and Surveillance systems. We have received about $800K funding from the National Science Foundation in the last three years (2009-2011) in support of our research. For further information, please visit Dr. Mahoor's Research Page.

Watch the NAO Robot in action! 

Center for Orthopaedic Biomechanics

Biomechanics Lab
The Center for Orthopaedic Biomechanics at the University of Denver applies engineering principles to investigate clinically relevant issues. Using a combination of experimental and computational tools, the Center performs research in joint mechanics, human motion, musculoskeletal modeling, modeling fluid-solid interactions, wearable sensor systems, and implant device testing. 

Housed in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at DU, the Center for Orthopaedic Biomechanics is a dynamic research environment committed to advancing orthopaedic biomechanics, improving patient outcomes and educating students. With current grants from NSF, NIH, implant manufacturers and research foundations, the Center is performing state-of-the-art research and has a strong record of publication and external support. The faculty is committed to student experiences at all levels: undergraduate, MS, PhD and post-doctoral fellows. Please see the individual laboratories and research projects pages for more detail on current activities.

Partner Laboratories:

Visit the DU Center for Orthopaedic Biomechanics

Watch the Human Dynamics Lab "DUing" Research in the Ritchie Center

Humane Games

At the University of Denver, we not only teach Computer Science and the creation of games for the entertainment industry, but we also focus on humane games.

We have coined the term "humane games" to encompass three-subfields:
• Games for education
• Games for medicine and health
• Socially conscious games

The faculty and students engaged in this research and scholarship believe that games have the potential to improve society as well as provide entertainment. Visit Dr. Leutenegger or the Game Development Program website.

Information Security and Privacy

The Department of Computer Science has an active research group in information security and privacy, dedicated to creating security software that is directly useful to a broad audience, going beyond the usual construction of academic proof-of-concept prototypes. They believe in full disclosure and educate students in all aspects of security, including attacking the security of systems.The Colorado Research Institute for Security and Privacy (CRISP) is an active research group in information security and privacy at the University of Denver. Visit Dr. Thurimella and Dr. Dewri

Nanoscale Science and Engineering

The Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering is a unique partnership between the faculty of several departments of the University of Denver interested in nanoscale science and technology. It combines the disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics, conducting state-of-the-art research in the area of nanoscience and nanoengineering. Visit John Evans Professor Dr. Maciej Kumosa.

Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE)

Terminator Bot
Under the leadership of Chair, John Evans Professor, Dr. Kimon P. Valavanis in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Department. The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science successfully completed the ABET accreditation in October of 2010 for the Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) degree programs. ABET's positive observations and comments were on the strengths of the undergraduate common curriculum that is (enhanced) by the Mechatronics Systems Engineering program. The new PhD program in Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) started on September 1, 2010. The Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science at the University of Denver, is the only University in the U.S.A that offers BS, M.Sc, and PhD degrees in Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE)!

The Mechatronics Systems Engineering programs involve the integration of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering to design complex systems to perform real-world tasks. The advent of inexpensive and relatively powerful microprocessors and microcontrollers has allowed almost any purely mechanical system (i.e. a car engine or a garage gate) to acquire some "intelligence" or to be controlled far more effectively than before. Mechatronic systems have become so pervasive and essential to everyday life that it is almost impossible to go through your day without using one. The ubiquitous presence of mechatronics creates a wide variety of employment and/or research opportunities for the student to master this multidisciplinary field, with the ability to integrate systems of components and people from differing engineering disciplines. The two main areas of specialization are Computer Systems and Mechanical Systems. These include courses in computer and mechanical engineering accompanied by a series of control courses and machine learning. Furthermore, the program offers research opportunities in the areas of robotics and unmanned systems, which allow for a deeper understanding of the mechatronics principles and give "hands-on" experience to the students. Examples of student projects range from model cars controlled by smartphones, automated landing platforms for small helicopters, to miniature radar systems and swarms of robots.

Visit the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)

The Safety, Security and Rescue Research Center (SSR-RC)

Face Recon Security Recognizing Structural Damage for Rescue

The SSR-RC is focused on the emerging field of Safety, Security, and Rescue Research, which includes a variety of topics in homeland security and emergency preparedness and response. As a true cooperative venture, university researchers, member company executives, and invited public safety officials play a role in the selection of research projects the Center pursues. In fact, it is the Industrial Advisory Board that allocates funding for specific projects.

Our Mission is to enable integrative, multi-disciplinary research in information and intelligent systems to improve all aspects of homeland security by creating partnerships between academia, industry, and the public sector. The research agenda of the Center covers many proactive and reactive technologies for homeland security and emergency response.

Grounded Basic Research: Universities provide a pool of expertise for harvesting in all disciplines of information and intelligent systems: bioinformatics, business systems, computer science, engineering, robotics, psychology, public health, marine sciences. Faculty have significant funding in artificial intelligence, biosensors, coordination of unmanned systems, data mining, energy and power, human-robot interaction, networks, robots, team processes, and video surveillance.

The main benefit to membership at the SSR-RC is networking and collaboration with university researchers, industry leaders, and end-users under an umbrella of favorable overhead and intellectual property agreements. Visit the SSR-RC.

Signals and Sensors
  • Statistical Signal Processing
  • Biomedical and Biological Signal Processing and Implementation
  • Distributed Sensing and Processing
  • Networked Sensor Information Processing for Structural Health Management

 To learn more visit Dr. Jun Jason Zhang 

Software Engineering

The faculty of Department of Computer Science at the University of Denver is internationally recognized in the field of software engineering research. They study and develop methods, tools, and techniques that aim to improve the practice of software engineering and thereby help engineers create sophisticated software products with the desired functionality, with enhanced quality and robustness, and within predictable schedules and budgets. Research is focused on tools, metrics, software testing, reliability, productivity assessment, program comprehension, maintenance, evaluation of distributed systems, multi-criteria system evaluation, testing of embedded and intelligent systems, and energy-aware software engineering. Dr. Matthew Rutherford does the software engineering for unmanned / autonomous systems (UAVs). Many of our faculty members work on various research projects together across all of our academic units. This multidisciplinary research and pedagogy is followed by undergraduates and graduate students through cutting-edge research.

Sustainable Integrated Power and Energy

Optimizing efficiency, ensuring maximum reliability, and adhering to resource constraints and limited budgets are all critical pieces of any successful energy management system. Demand for smarter engineering and design of water management and energy management systems (i.e. Smart Grid) are ever-increasing. The Renewable Energy and Power Electronics Laboratory at the University of Denver conducts extensive research in areas of renewable energy and distributed generation, smart grid, power delivery, power electronics application, power system protection, power system restructuring, and hybrid electric propulsion systems. Visit Dr. Gao and his research team in the Renewable Energy and Power Electronics Lab for more information.