Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications Research Review Features FCC CTO Henning Schulzrinne

When Associate Provost for Research and Technology Initiatives Kurt Becker welcomed the crowd to the 2013 Annual Research Review mounted by the Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications (CATT) on December 5, he had a pun at the ready. “The field is growing and changing so quickly that in the decades since the center was established, it has had even more than nine lives,” he quipped.

The keynote speaker of the well-attended event was Henning Schulzrinne, a professor of computer science at Columbia University and now chief technology officer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Schulzrinne had a joke of his own at the ready, explaining that most people thought of the FCC only upon seeing a star’s “wardrobe malfunction” or hearing a late-night talk-show host’s monologue about cell phone use on airplanes.

The audience that gathered to hear Schulzrinne speak on the topic of “Keeping Networks Competitive, Open for Innovation, and Universal: Public Policy Challenges in a Time of Network Transitions” was, however, much more conversant with the workings of the agency than the average viewer of late-night talk shows. The academicians and industry partners in attendance listened intently as Schulzrinne outlined the issues facing his organization in the coming years, including the need address societal issues like universal access and the rights of the disabled; to monitor questions of safety and legality; and to foster broadband development.

The professors affiliated with CATT, which generated a hundred-dollar economic impact for every dollar spent on it last year, left little doubt that they and their students were up for a challenge. They were introduced by Shivendra Panwar, the director of the center, who enthusiastically explained, “Working together, we provide a great many benefits to industry. Our partners get access to outside ideas, great students, and our terrific incubator system, for example. And New York City’s tech ecosystem is among the largest in the country; in fact, Brooklyn is seeing faster growth in the Information and Computer Technology sector than any other area in the country except for San Francisco.”

Among the professors who spoke during the event was Ted Rappaport, who, like Schulzrinne, stressed the need for more bandwidth (citing a report that predicted by 2020, there will be an enormous uptick in data consumption thanks to the steady growth in networked devices) and discussed his promising work with millimeter waves. He was followed by Ramesh Karri, who elaborated on advances in hardware security; Francisco de Leon, who touched upon smart grids and wireless charging for electric vehicles; and Andy Nealen, who spoke about human-computer interaction and demonstrated a new tool that may one day become indispensable for animators.

The Research Review, which culminated in a meeting of the CATT Advisory Board, also featured talks by Paul Horn, the Senior Vice-Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship, and Justin Hendrix, who oversees the NYC Media Lab. Among the highlights, however, was a series of lightning-fast presentations by some 30 CATT students; they were each given 60 seconds to tell the audience about their research projects, which featured such titles as “Full Duplex Radios for 4G LTE Networks” and “Wireless Video Multicast with Cooperative and Incremental Transmission of Parity Packets.” They may be up for solving multifaceted spectrum and bandwidth problems, but many had difficulty encapsulating semesters of complex work into one-minute pitches. Luckily, most fared better during the lunch break, when they displayed explanatory posters they had created and could chat at greater length. (You could say that they proved themselves to be the CATT’s meow!)