Sep 25, 2023
Three OSSTP undergraduate researchers attend the 2023 Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC)
This document summarizes the experiences of the three Olin Satellite + Spectrum Technology & Policy (OSSTP) Group undergraduate researchers and one graduate researcher who attended the 2023 Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) with Prof. Whitney Lohmeyer from September 22-23rd, 2023.
The itinerary of the first day included:
Lunch and socializing with other attendees
Attended more paper sessions
Whereas the itinerary for the second day included:
Argyris Kriezis and Prof. Lohmeyer’s presentation on Today’s TT&C Spectrum Allocation Needs
Katie, Phillip, and Zayn’s presentation on GSO vs. NGSO filings between 2012-2022
Traveling back to Boston
This was my second time attending and presenting at TPRC, so in many ways, it was distinctly different yet refreshingly familiar. The main differences were that I no longer felt like a nervous upstart in a room where my voice may not be welcome. Even though I would learn that everyone at TPRC are some of the friendliest people in the world, it can be hard to muster the courage to speak your voice or opinion when you may be the only one in a room without a Ph.D. Thankfully, this time around, I felt right at home and thoroughly enjoyed the side chats with my session seatmate or a discussion with the room as to why, for example, is it so hard to value someone’s digital information. I was reminded many times why I so dearly valued this fluidity of thoughts and ideas.
When it came time to present our paper, I was just as nervous as I had been last year. But, the amazing support of our lab and seeing the audience filled with friends I had made while working the Federal Communications Commission put me at ease. So much so that it felt bittersweet when we closed on the last slide, but the vibrant questions and feedback we received from the audience made the moment one of pure bliss. It felt invaluable to share research we had spent the last two years on, poured our hearts and minds into, and received well by our peers. It was inspiring and reaffirmed to me that what we do is amazing and valuable.
Before closing, I want to loop back to the joy of also experiencing others' research. A standout for me was hearing from Professor Meicen Sun, who described their work exploring how different countries control and develop their internet. From China’s great firewall to India’s chronic internet shutdowns, their research was personally fascinating to me. I also want to highlight the last session I went to, which I referenced at the start of this reflection. It was a panel on how companies value your data, what happens when it is leaked or breached, and what data handling methods will look like in the future. I was especially fascinated by data liability, meaning will we reach a point where the risk of holding someone’s data outweighs the inherent value it may hold? There were no clear answers to my questions but the discussions that bore out of them were nonetheless refreshing. Overall, TPRC, as always, is an amazing experience that I hope I can return to next year!
Attending TPRC has become a cherished tradition for me. It's an annual melting pot of diverse backgrounds and passions that I always look forward to. TPRC stands out because of its unique blend of expertise -- attracting a diverse spectrum of attendees encompassing the fields of engineering, policy, and economics -- and its huge range of careers represented -- spanning from seasoned industry professionals to devoted academics and public servants.
Presenting for the first time to a conference was a bit nerve wracking, but I was confident in our team’s work and presentation. We had poured hours into preparing our paper over the summer, so seeing our effort come to fruition and presenting was very satisfying. The audience's response was also incredibly positive, with insightful questions that left me even more excited about our upcoming work.
One standout moment for me was the opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces from the Federal Communications Commission, where I interned over the summer. It was encouraging to see them in the audience during my presentation, and their presence added a personal touch to the event and I was able to get helpful feedback from former mentors.
What truly resonates with me about this conference is the enthusiasm and passion that is apparent in every conversation. It reaffirms my commitment to pursuing a career in satellite telecommunications. Hearing about the cutting-edge work of others and engaging with their zeal is not just encouraging; it's a driving force for my aspirations in this field. This conference is a testament to the welcoming and intellectually stimulating community within telecommunications that I'm eager to be a part of.
In many of the TPRC sessions I attended, the Q&A section modeled a seminar more than an interview. Part of what created a vibrant discussion was the depth of telecommunications knowledge many speakers and attendees had. This meant discussions could include reflections on twenty years of policy and technology with careful thought about the path forward. Knowing many experts were in the room, I used this opportunity to write down concepts and policies I hadn’t heard about before and ask them questions during lunch and coffee breaks.
I also enjoyed presenting our research to many members of the FCC. When I was working on the paper, I spent several hours wondering how to convey our findings and how we could build tools in areas where we found bottlenecks. When many of these members approached us post-presentation, it was exciting to acknowledge that we’re working on tools that will help them do their job better and hear feedback about new research ideas.
Outside the conference, I enjoyed Phillip’s guided night tour of DC and our group’s Uber rides which contained many laughs and conversations. I’m grateful for Prof. Whitney Lohmeyer’s continued guidance and high standards that make the lab a rewarding place to work.
Argyris Kriezis (Graduate Researcher)
This was my first time attending TPRC and I was pleasantly surprised by the different format this conference has compared to other ones I have been at. After each presentation there is more of a discussion than just questions or reviews. This made the experience significantly better and it was one of the first times I could actually sit through presentations and feel engaged. In addition, the small format of the conference allowed me to meet with different people from both the FCC and industry, but also other fellow students pursuing their graduate degrees.
TPRC was also the first time I got to present my work in a conference, excluding poster presentations. It was deninfatly a new challenge as I had to condense multiple pages worth of material into a 15 minute slideshow while making sure I keep my audience engaged. It took multiple iterations and practice runs, but at the end of the day it worked out. I am sure this will not be my last presentation and it has been a valuable lesson to get through this process early on in my graduate studies.