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Douglas Sicker Named Head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Douglas Sicker has joined Carnegie Mellon University as head of its Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP). Sicker, who assumed the post on Aug. 1, also has a joint appointment as a professor in the School of Computer Science.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., is a distinctive, world-class research university that blends cutting-edge programs across many disciplines including business, computer science, the arts and sciences, engineering and public policy.

Sicker, former DBC Endowed Professor in the Department of Computer Science and director of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has spent time in academia, government and industry, allowing him to bring a unique and balanced view to the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. 

"I tend to work on applied industry problems and think of them from the perspective of what policy decisions might mean for industry and consumers going forward," he said.

Recently, Sicker was involved in federal government as the chief technology officer and senior adviser for spectrum at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). He also served as the chief technology officer of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Previously, he was the senior adviser on the FCC National Broadband Plan.  Before his time in academia and government, he was director of Network Architecture at Level 3 Communications.  

Sicker has held many advisory roles across the branches of government, including adviser to the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice and chair of the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council Steering Committee. He also served on the Technical Advisory Council of the FCC and has participated in IEEE standards efforts, the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Association for Computing Machinery.

"I understand the difficulty for policymakers in government," Sicker said. "Many of them are not technical subject matter experts, and furthermore, even if they are, they often don't have access to data or the resources required to answer the tough questions."

Moving forward, Sicker would like to see an even stronger EPP presence in Washington, D.C. He hopes to encourage faculty to be more actively involved in engaging law and policymakers and serving in government roles, such as on advisory committees and spending sabbaticals working within government agencies.

"Being able to help shape technical and engineering policy is a passion of mine," Sicker said. "Long before it was my passion, it was EPP's passion. There aren't many of these programs in the country, or in the world for that matter, that actually impact public policy with thorough technical analysis. That really resonates with me, and I hope to continue to improve and refine EPP's ability to provide impactful resources for policymakers to utilize. Another thing that resonates with me is the broad set of engineering and technical issues that EPP considers."

Sicker's research has focused on broadband networking, which he calls essential because broadband access to the Internet is so important to our economy, and he will continue his work in the areas of dynamic spectrum access, security and privacy, and Open Internet.

Spectrum access deals with the radio frequency spectrum that our society uses for radar communications (e.g., smartphones and WiFi) and other services. As our use of this spectrum increases, this finite resource becomes strained. Sicker develops new models to more efficiently access the radio spectrum, and considers the policy and economic issues surrounding this increase in access.

In his second area of interest, Sicker explores exploits and enhancements to user security and privacy.

Sicker's third research area, Open Internet (also known as network neutrality), is the idea that Internet service providers (ISP) should not unfairly discriminate in their treatment of traffic traversing their network. For example, it would not be in keeping with network neutrality if an ISP would provide better treatment of one content provider's traffic but not allow another content provider similar treatment. Sicker questions how we maintain an Open Internet as the network evolves and what that means in terms of required transparency, disclosure among the players, and the need for policy or regulation to maintain that openness.

"Sicker's experience in academia and government related to telecommunications, his demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary research and education, his enthusiasm and collegial nature, and his clear and energetic commitment to working with the faculty to take EPP to the next phase of success make him excellent for this position," said James H. Garrett, Jr., dean of the College of Engineering.

To learn more about Douglas Sicker's vision for the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, watch this video: http://youtu.be/sdl5afM987Y.

About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon (www.cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 12,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small faculty-to-student ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real world problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon's campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California's Silicon Valley, Qatar, and programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico.   

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