TPRC Conference 2022

Gati, Lilo, Katie, Phillip, and Kat Outside the Conference Building
Gati, Lilo, Katie, Phillip, and Kat Outside the Conference Building

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Late Night Tour of Washington D.C.
Late Night Tour of Washington D.C.

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Having Fun on the Long Escalator Ride
Having Fun on the Long Escalator Ride

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Gati, Lilo, Katie, Phillip, and Kat Outside the Conference Building
Gati, Lilo, Katie, Phillip, and Kat Outside the Conference Building

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September 18, 2022

This document summarizes the experiences of the five Olin Satellite + Spectrum Technology & Policy (OSSTP) Group undergraduate researchers who attended the 2022 Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) with Prof. Whitney Lohmeyer from September 16-17th, 2022.

The itinerary of the first day included: 

  • Whitney’s SpectrumX presentation on NGSO Spectrum Rights

  • Gati and Phillip’s presentation on the FCC’s Auction 107

  • Lunch “A Walk Down Memory Lane,” socializing with other attendees

  • Panel sessions

  • Attended more paper sessions

  • Poster session

  • Dinner, socializing with other attendees

  • Exploring D.C. monuments at the National Mall

 

Whereas the itinerary for the second day included: 

  • Panel sessions

  • Lunch

  • Traveling back to Boston

Students share their experiences and highlights below:

Gati Aher

As a student hoping to go to graduate school, attending TPRC was a great educational opportunity. First of all, I gained exposure to concepts surrounding the work I had focused on, the C-Band Auction, as well as exposure to ongoing research on related major telecommunication policy questions. Second, I practiced distilling my work into an engaging fifteen minute presentation and used the TPRC platform to discuss my work with the few other people in the world that had expertise in that topic. Third, I learned about the variety of educational background and types of analysis used by people leading the economics and policy field. Fourth, I was able to determine the intersection between my core area of interest, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the existing state of its presence in policy decision making. Fifth, I now understand the power of conferences as a venue for interacting with experts and leading research, and in the future I will prepare background knowledge and interesting questions to get even more out of the experience.

 

Following this conference, we will be augmenting our existing analysis with a nuanced policy examination and recommendation. This was a great first conference experience that has helped not only the execution of our current research project, but also my overall growth as a researcher.

Phillip Post

This conference represented a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time at a research conference, it was my first time presenting a paper to an audience of experts, and it was the first time I saw the breadth of the telecommunications field. For our research, I only ever studied communications and policy in relation to satellites, but the diverse talks on disinformation, data privacy, and auction mechanics made me consider how multifaceted this discipline is with fields I had never considered. One session that particularly stood out to me was a session Friday morning that explored how to fight the rise of disinformation online. I relished hearing the viewpoints of economists, business leaders, and philosophers each revealing a solution through their own expertise. This also challenged me to reexamine my own research and assumptions, seeing if I could incorporate any of these other disciplines to provide a more nuanced point.

 

I also had the opportunity to present the results of research I had done with a group of Oliners for the last year. I was very nervous but the inviting, friendly nature of all of the participants made me feel more like I was having a conversation over lunch rather than a nerve-racking speech. What I appreciated most was how the participants asked if I had considered my results through a different perspective. A conclusion I had only considered once now has so many different layers, which I couldn't wait to incorporate into the final version of our paper. Overall, TPRC showed me the wonders of when different fields collide and the breadth and depth of ideas that comes from it. 

Katie Fleming

The TPRC conference was my first conference of any kind and was a fantastic introduction to the world of academia. It was exciting to meet such a warm and tight-knit community that was ready to embrace new faces. Rubbing elbows with engineers, policy makers, and economists who are experts in their fields and are dedicated to building upon each other's work was a dream come true for me. Their work to synthesize these different viewpoints to find and present viable solutions to audiences with diverse viewpoints really resonated with me. As someone who is interested in pursuing a career in satellite and spectrum policy, it was interesting to see the different ways specialists approached the same problems.

 

Aside from my excitement about the conference’s environment, attending presentations and networking with other attendees made me realize how much background I have picked up over the past few months. It was exciting to feel like I had context for many of the presentations. My research at OSSTP exposed me to many of the topics that came up in both presentations and casual conversations during the coffee breaks. It felt rewarding to be able to ask informed questions that directly related to my lab work and the research that I am doing in Prof. Lohmeyer’s Introduction to Analog and Digital Communications class. 

 

Finally, the TPRC conference was an incredible team bonding experience. I loved attending Prof. Lohmeyer’s presentation and supporting Phillip and Gati during theirs. It was also fun to rehash the different discussions each of us had sat in on during our exploration of Washington DC’s monuments.

Kat Canavan

While I’m familiar with the D.C. area, this was the first conference I’ve ever attended. It was both my first time at TPRC and the 50th anniversary of the conference. As someone new to the TPRC culture, it was both inspiring and informative to listen in on the sharing of fond memories and discussions about the progression of technology and policy over the years. Some folks had attended TPRC since the beginning and it was clear that many of the regular participants have become close friends. Despite being an unfamiliar face and one of the few undergraduates attending the conference, everyone I encountered was incredibly friendly and took me and my peers seriously, both during panels and when socializing more casually over meals and coffee.

 

While I enjoyed discussions relating to my OSSTP work, including the fantastic presentations by my colleagues, I also found it captivating to learn about research in other related fields including internet policy and privacy, bandwidth studies during the pandemic, and security concerns in the digital age. After each researcher presented, I appreciated listening to the thoughtful audience comments and feedback as I felt like I learned a lot about the research process and academic community in general, especially how beneficial it can be for experts in different fields to come together.

Lilo Heinrich

As my first research conference, I was surprised to find that TPRC is a truly interdisciplinary conference. The conference had a varied composition including economists, policy makers, and engineers, illustrating the breadth of the telecommunications field at large. It was an invaluable experience to learn from these experts who were friendly and eagerly welcomed us. After each presentation, the discussions were often just as illuminating as the presentations themselves. I learned that conferences are a great place to interact with experts, which can be highly valuable.

 

From this experience I gained broader context on my work on the C-Band Auction paper, as well as exposure to ongoing research on related telecommunication issues and policy questions. It was rewarding to be able to have enough background on these topics to follow the presentations and to talk with some of these professionals about my current projects. This conference was a wonderful first experience that has helped not only my work with OSSTP and Introduction to Analog and Digital Communications this semester, but also my growth as a student hoping to attend graduate school. Other than Professor Lohmeyer and Phillip and Gati’s presentations, some of my highlights include attending presentations on the history of “harmful interference”, an assessment of the role low earth orbit constellations could play in universal broadband, and spatial analysis of public wifi in NYC, all of which I found interesting and relevant in various ways to my projects this semester.