SpectrumX’s fall meeting introduces new ways to engage with the center’s work

By Christina Clark

Unveiling comprehensive undergraduate research experience programs, introducing a new board of advisory members, and launching a flagship workshop on crafting comments on policy for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were just some of the top agenda items for attendees of SpectrumX’s Fall 2023 Center meeting. The meeting took place at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, from October 9 and 10, 2023. It brought the multi-institutional center, composed of 27 founding institutions and led by the University of Notre Dame, to the upper midwest to discuss research progress, center initiatives, and more.

“Hosting the center meeting at Northwestern University allows us to show members from around the country our unique capabilities and facilities,” said Randall Berry, SpectrumX research planning committee member and professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering at Northwestern University. “Bringing partners and experts to our university allows our students the opportunity to attend a center meeting, present their research at poster sessions, and make new connections with researchers and industry stakeholders.”

Flagship workshop: Crafting comments on policy for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The center meeting featured a session led by Renee Leduc, policy outreach consultant for SpectrumX and founder and principal of Narayan Strategy. Leduc’s presentation included guiding attendees through the policy engagement approach, including submitting FCC comments and engaging with members of the U.S. Congress.

Leduc broke down different terminology contained in FCC Notice of Inquiries (NOI), which are requests for input from experts and stakeholders for policymakers to review. Leduc provided definitions for terms in policy making that academics may have been less comfortable with, including “Ex parte: a written or oral communication submitted to the FCC related to a proceeding or rulemaking.”

During the meeting, Leduc outlined a timeline for SpectrumX members to use in crafting a response to future FCC NOIs, similar to the comment submitted by the center just before its deadline of October 3, 2023. 

In-person participants at the Fall 2023 SpectrumX Center Meeting, hosted at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. (Provided).

Research experiences for undergraduates

SpectrumX center director and professor of electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame Nick Laneman presented to the center an overview of the University of Notre Dame Wireless Institute’s Advanced Wireless Research Experiences (AWaRE) research experiences for undergraduates (REU) program. The program was 10 weeks long over the summer and included research focus for four students majoring in electrical engineering and computer science engineering.

The program, this year and planned in the future, includes not only support and guidance from faculty to guide undergraduate students through the academic research process, but also prepares them for graduate level opportunities. The students in the AWaRE program conducted research projects including: Millimeter-wave measurement and modeling of high-speed transistors; collaborative intelligent radio systems for congested wireless environments/spectrum coexistence technologies and policies for interfering radio systems; IrishSat, Notre Dame’s chapter of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative; and machine learning methods for modeling spectrum occupancy.

Danijela Cabric, SpectrumX research partner and professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), outlined the program that she led with students over the summer: the UCLA Engineering Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). The program featured three SpectrumX-funded students who conducted three different research projects, including radio frequency fingerprinting of frequency hopping radios, coexistence in 6 GHz band based on spatial prediction, and improving energy efficiency in massive internet-of-thing networks. One of Cabric’s takeaways was the importance of pairing each undergraduate student with a graduate student who can provide them with daily mentorship.

Image of SpectrumX Fall 2023 Center meeting sit in a long event room, with laptops and three screens, while Center Director Nick Laneman stands at the podium and presents.

Introducing the SpectrumX Collaboration Advisory Board

A new SpectrumX initiative, the Collaboration Advisory Board (CAB), was presented to center members and spectrum industry collaborators and stakeholders during the center meeting. Center Collaboration Director Josh Tullis introduced the CAB and its members to the center meeting attendees.

The CAB enables members to collaborate directly with the academic research community. The access to the academic community, in turn, provides insights to the center researchers as well to apply in their own work to assist real-world, real-time applications of discovery and innovation.

The center’s CAB currently includes members from Qualcomm, GIRD Systems Inc., Aira Technologies, and ThinkRF. All four organizations presented to the meeting attendees about their specialization and their distinctive spectrum-related challenges that they hope to work with the center on.

Aleksandar Damnjanovic, principal engineer and manager, Qualcomm, included in his presentation that Qualcomm is working to advance novel approaches for spectrum access. Damnjanovic presented that Qualcomm knows that “more spectrum is needed for future wireless growth; innovations can open new capacity; and collaboration with academia addressing deployment scenarios and use cases [are] of interest to [the] wireless industry.”

Bob Hayes, director of advanced programs at GIRD Systems, Inc. gave an overview of the company and spoke of their approach moving forward with machine learning. GIRD aims to “leverage machine learning to select interference cancellers to apply based on inputs.”

Ravikiran Gopalan, co-founder and chief technology officer at Aira Technologies, introduced their leadership team to SpectrumX meeting attendees, and gave an overview of the company’s focus, including its machine learning-driven “insight engine.” These engines maintained by Aira Technologies allow them to monitor and improve the performance of devices using specific spectrum bands.

ThinkRF’s Director of Product Management Jonathan Morris  presented about ThinkRF’s existing relationship with the University of Notre Dame and how it is expanding upon that work in autonomous spectrum monitoring. The company presented their plug-and-play tools and identified multiple use cases that they hope to expand upon with the center’s research and guidance.

Looking forward

The fall center meeting serves as a checkpoint for members of the SpectrumX center, who regularly meet in segmented working groups and project teams. The fall meeting helps set the expectations for the spring center meeting, which will be the annual National Science Foundation (NSF) Spectrum Week meeting, co-located with IEEE DySpan outside of Washington D.C. in May 2024.

To stay up to date on upcoming events, fill out the Get Involved form on the SpectrumX website.

About SpectrumX

SpectrumX is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its Spectrum Innovation Initiative, under grant number AST 21-32700. SpectrumX is the world’s largest academic hub where all radio spectrum stakeholders can innovate, collaborate, and contribute to maximizing social welfare of this precious resource.

To learn more about SpectrumX, please visit spectrumx.org.

Christina Clark, Research Communications Specialist
SpectrumX / Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame
cclark26@nd.edu / 574.631.2665

First image caption: Student members of SpectrumX who attended the Fall 2023 SpectrumX Center Meeting are pictured at Northwestern University.

Final image caption: Fall 2023 SpectrumX Center Meeting attendees are pictured in a meeting room at Northwestern University, listening to Center Director Nick Laneman give a presentation.

All images provided.