Olin Team in the Running for Grant to Establish New $25M Wireless Spectrum Research Center

November 23, 2020

Assistant Professor of Engineering, Whitney Lohmeyer, and the Olin Spectrum Innovation Initiative Center (OSIIC) team, recently joined a multi-institution effort to create a comprehensive plan for a five-year $25M National Center for Wireless Spectrum Research.

The newly merged teams were all awarded funding in the form of planning grants from the National Science Foundation’s new Spectrum Innovation Initiative (SII) last summer. The planning grant provided recipients with funding to “enable networking and develop collaborations among potential partners, in pursuit of the creation of a larger well-organized team that can submit a [sic] SII-Center proposal.” This SII-Center must “chart out a trajectory to ensure United States leadership in future wireless technologies, systems, and applications in science and engineering through the efficient use and sharing of the radio spectrum” and should “seek to foster scientific and technical collaboration and grow the spectrum workforce.”

At Olin this past summer, Dr. Lohmeyer and six students (Utsav Gupta ’21, Argyris Kriezis ‘22, Olivia Seitelman ‘22, Celvi Lisy ‘23, Regan Mah ‘23, and Rohil Agarwal ’23) formed the Olin Satellite + Spectrum Technology & Policy Group (OSSTP). The OSSTP team worked on a variety of projects in the satellite systems and spectrum policy space over the summer that culminated in two research papers that were submitted to the 2021 AIAA-IEEE Aerospace Conference, a revised curriculum for Satellite Systems course and a new curriculum for an Antenna Theory course. The OSIIC team led by Utsav under the guidance of Dr. Lohmeyer, submitted a detailed NSF proposal in response to the NSF’s call for proposals for the SII Center Planning Grant. In early August, OSSTP team was notified that their proposal was one of the sixteen selected to receive funding. This funding allowed OSSTP to pursue collaborative opportunities with potential partners, meet with federal stakeholders to incorporate their priorities into the center vision, and engage in exploratory research around interference and coexistence of different spectrum user communities.

Additionally, the OSIIC team used SII funds to pilot an apprenticeship-based work-study model with satellite communications startup, Mangata Networks LCC. In this model, students are obtaining credit towards their degree while receiving funds to offset the cost of their tuition. “Providing students with real-world project based learning, and going back to more of an apprenticeship model, is key for addressing education and workforce development. I look forward to seeing the long-term impact of this model on our students and the sector as a whole, and to replicating this model across the other members of the merged team.”, says Whitney Lohmeyer.

Now, the National Science Foundation is offering a multi-million dollar grant to establish a wireless spectrum research center. The merged team effort will be called SpectrumX - The National Center for Spectrum Innovation. The teams include:

  • National Center for Radio Spectrum Innovations (NCRSI) , led by Professor J. Nicholas Laneman at the University of Notre Dame and including University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, Clemson University, New York University, Northwestern University, and Stanford University
  • Olin Spectrum Innovation Initiative Center (OSIIC), led by Professor Whitney Lohmeyer at Olin College of Engineering and including Mangata Networks LLC
  • Wireless Hardware Innovations and Signal Processing for Enhanced Radio-astronomy and Scientific Spectrum Sharing (WHISPERS), led by Professor Robert Weikle at the University ofVirginia and including Northwestern University, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory(NRAO), and Virginia Diodes
  • Wireless Innovation and Spectrum Evolution (WISE) led by Professor Scott Palo at the University of Colorado Boulder and including University of California San Diego, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez

“The SII Center will offer invaluable learning opportunities to Oliners while also enabling flexible experimentation in Wireless Comms, both at academic and pedagogical levels”, notes Gupta.

The Spectrum X team intends to submit their proposal to NSF on April 1, 2021.