2018 Is a Wrap

2018 was a productive and successful year at the Marconi Society, thanks in large part to our outstanding Young Scholars, Fellows and friends. We continued our mission of inspiring innovations in the Internet and communications that benefit humankind and expanded our reach in some exciting ways.

Here are some of my top highlights from the year:

In April, Young Scholar and Technion Assistant Professor Eitan Yaakobi, led a special Marconi Society event at the Technion. Over 100 people participated in the program called “The Information Era: Past, Present and Future” as Eitan was joined by Marconi Fellows Andrew Viterbi and Jacob Ziv, as well as the legendary Abraham Lempel. More information is here.

Our Young Scholars expanded their exciting Celestini Program, which inspires undergraduates in developing countries to study science and engineering by helping them to solve local problems using communications technology. Under the leadership of Joseph Kakande and Aakanksha Chowdhery, we added three new countries – Colombia, Ghana and Rwanda – to our existing projects in India and Uganda. The program has supported over 50 students so far and this year’s projects included:

  • Improving the use and effectiveness of hydric resources for agriculture in Colombia by using sensors and communications to optimize irrigation.
  • Reducing the number of Ghanan citizens who die in road accidents involving damaged vehicles left on the road by using GPS and GSM to notify drivers of upcoming traffic hazards.
  • Our India project expanded to focus on two issues this year. Students continued their work to reduce pedestrian traffic fatalities in Delhi by enabling vehicle-to-vehicle communications to warn drivers about chain car accidents. Another set of students developed applications to raise awareness about pollution levels and their causes. The Celestini India projects are detailed in this blog by Aakanksha and examples of media coverage are here and here.
  • Students in Rwanda created a mobile application and dashboard to enhance interactions between citizens and elected officials, enabling citizens to understand the laws that are being proposed by Parliament and to give input to their representatives.

In October, we went back to Marconi’s home in Bologna, Italy, to honor Tom Leighton, our distinguished Marconi Fellow, and four exceptional Young Scholars, Di Che, Qurrat-Ul-Ain Nadeem, Rajalakshmi Nandakumar and Ding Nie. The Young Scholars hosted their own Symposium called “The Future of Communications: Bringing Down Silos to Connect the Next Billion.” Our Symposium the next day explored “Restoring Trust in the Internet” and featured some incredible speakers from across the spectrum of security, privacy, journalism, industry and academia. Our lively discussions in each session reflect the ongoing curiosity and excitement about learning that always distinguishes Marconi Society events. My reflections from the Symposia are detailed in this blog post.

We are pleased to support a promising Columbia student, Jared Greene, in his work to understand whether we can increase activism and political engagement by introducing or improving local Internet infrastructure. Jared is researching the causal link between Internet performance and political engagement throughout Guatemala and we will look forward to sharing his findings next year and their implications for those of us working to bring the Internet to underserved areas.

In January we surveyed our newsletter readers to see what you wanted to receive from us. You asked to hear from our subject matter experts about new advancements in the field. Our blog this year showcased Expert Perspectives from Marconi Fellows, Young Scholars and friends including the most recent 5G standards by Ana Garcia Armada (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid),  the future of wireless by Andrea Goldsmith (Stanford University), a framework for managing information on the Internet by Bob Kahn (CNRI), new work in the quantum Internet by Joe Lukens (Oak Ridge National Lab) and how we can double wireless bandwidth by Negar Reiskarimian (MIT).

We were also honored to discuss some key topics with the FCC during the year and to offer our views on emerging technology and policy issues as independent third parties.

We close the year by thanking and extending our best wishes to Shannon Greene of our staff, who will retire at the end of this year. Shannon has been an instrumental part of our organization for many years and we will miss her insights, experience and friendship.

We will hit 2019 running by taking Young Scholar nominations at the beginning of the year, through February 15. We will honor our Young Scholars and Marconi Prize recipient at a gala on May 17. We are now working with most of the top engineering programs in the world, as well as with leading organizations like IEEE, to raise awareness about Young Scholar nominations. We also appreciate your help in forwarding our e-mails and encouraging nominations – or nominating yourself – the best young researchers you know.

We have at least one other very interesting event in the works and our blog will feature Expert Perspectives starting with Marconi Fellows Claude Berrou and Marty Hellman.

We look forward to your continued engagement and welcome your financial support in expanding the Celestini Program and supporting our Young Scholars.

I wish you each a wonderful holiday season filled with family and friends and I look forward to exchanging ideas and insights in the new year.