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Lab Director Whitney Lohmeyer Takes on Historic Role with FCC

Aug 9, 2023

Whitney Lohmeyer has begun a one-year term as chief technologist for the newly established Space Bureau!

Assistant Professor of Engineering Whitney Lohmeyer is taking a one-year leave from her faculty position at Olin to serve as chief technologist for the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) Space Bureau.

The Space Bureau was created earlier this year as part of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s plan to better support the needs of the growing satellite industry and help the agency navigate 21st century global communications policy. The Space Bureau leads policy and licensing matters related to satellite and space-based communications and activities.

Lohmeyer is a member of the Space Bureau’s Office of the Bureau Chief, working with others in leadership roles to support Chairwoman Rosenworcel and Space Bureau Chief Julie Kearney. Their collective focus is on policy issues pertaining to the latest challenges within the aerospace industry, such as using satellites to transmit directly to existing user devices for emergency services (direct-to-cell, or supplemental coverage from space [SCS]), mitigating orbital debris, and general licensing processes.

“Working on these issues with the Space Bureau builds off of the work we delve into in my lab at Olin,” says Lohmeyer, who runs the Olin Satellite + Spectrum Technology & Policy (OSSTP) Group. “From drafting and submitting a petition for the FCC to reconsider its satellite licensing process to conducting data science and conducting analysis of satellite filings over the last 20 years, these students are growing real-world skills that can aid in major policy decisions. I try to encourage students to spend time in service to the government at some point—as an intern or later in their careers—because there is such a need for program management, digital strategy, and data science on these kinds of challenges. At Olin, students learn those sorts of skills.”

For Lohmeyer, the opportunity to serve on the first-ever Space Bureau leadership team is “really quite unfathomable and is an opportunity for which [she’s] incredibly grateful.”

“I studied some of these technologies like direct-to-cell in graduate school, and to be on an internal team working on the leading policies to enable them to become reality is an incredible trajectory,” says Lohmeyer. 

I think there’s a role that academics can play to conduct research that helps inform policy, and that’s exactly what OSSTP does.”

From all of us at OSSTP, Congratualations Whitney!

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