Grant: Addressing Gender and Diversity Imbalances in Engineering

Date: November 2021
Amount: $671,878

The Olin Satellite + Spectrum Technology & Policy Group (OSSTP) was founded in June 2020 by Professor Whitney Lohmeyer and six Olin undergraduate students. OSSTP’s mission has always been to provide real-world, project-based learning through apprentice-style education and graduate level research to all interested students. They will work alongside the Olin Collegiate Amateur Radio Club (OCARC).

A primary focus of this work is enabling access to underrepresented communities and motivating students to participate in amateur radio and undergraduate research. Arguably, one of the reasons for the large gender and diversity imbalances in Wireless Communications and Aerospace field is educational materials that are unnecessarily complicated and costly. ARDC funds will support a team of student researchers to edit and finalize teaching materials, course assistants, printing costs, and hardware purchases for final projects.

The next portion of the grant will fund projects in communications technology innovation. In collaboration with OCARC, OSSTP has been working to design, build and test an UHF ground station. The station will be used both for satellite communications and amateur radio communication in the 70 cm band, with goals of expanding this capability to also support 2 m. The first goal is to open up the station to the Olin, Babson and Wellesley communities to allow students to apply the theory learned in communications classes and in their amateur radio license training. Additionally, undergraduate research stipends will be funded for “Communications Systems Interference Analysis” and “FCC Spectrum Data Science.”

The third portion of the grant will fund important enhancements to the OSSTP lab. This includes funding a Lab Manager and Post-Docto support the lab’s work, scholarships for two “ARDC Fellows,” lab supplies such as RF components, and attendance for 10 lab members at satellite conferences.

The final grant funds will be directed to strength the Olin Radio Club. Specifically, the club will provide ARRL Examination License Manuals and exam fees for 15 new members, eight amateur radio set-ups and necessary incidentals for club members who are volunteering at the Boston Marathon and other community events, and building and testing a repeater to conduct an ARISS pass.