COVID-19 Has Laid Bare The Digital Divide - Meet The Technologist, And First Female Recipient Of The Marconi Prize, Intent On Solving It

Published by: Forbes Inc.
6
May

IEEE Volunteer Andrea Goldsmith | Awarded Marconi Prize

[*Note: 2020 Chair Technical Activities Board (TAB) Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and IEEE member Andrea Goldsmith is the Founder and CTO of two companies. “She established the vision of Plume (formerly Accelera) to create software-defined wireless networking technology for cloud-based dynamic optimization of and seamless handoff between heterogeneous wireless networks. She led the algorithm development to enable this vision for carrier-grade WiFi networks based on vendor-agnostic off-the-shelf or embedded hardware.

Goldsmith also established Quantenna Communications‘ vision to create the highest-performance 802.11n chipset on the market via four-stream 4×4 MIMO with dynamic digital beamforming, which provided 600 Mbps data rates and wire-like reliability. She led the algorithm team to develop the associated PHY layer technology.” Learn more about Andrea Goldsmith’s entrepreneurial experience!]

“From the library of her Menlo Park, California, home, Dr. Andrea Goldsmith, 55, holds up a brick of a mobile phone next to her later model iPhone to demonstrate the evolution from 1G technology. On Thursday, Goldsmith became the first woman in the Marconi Society’s 45-year history to be awarded the Marconi Prize. The distinction is granted to individuals whose exceptional contributions to communications technology have benefited society.

‘It’s an honor to be recognized in the pantheon of people who impacted the world for the better through developing information communication technology,’ Goldsmith said. ‘Winning this award is a combination of validation that the work that I’ve done has had a big impact, but more special than that is becoming apart of this group of innovators and technologists who are my professional heroes.’

Goldsmith is also the first woman to be president of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Information Theory Society, to win the IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award for outstanding contributions to communications technology and the IEEE Communications Society Armstrong Technical Achievement Award.

Goldsmith, whose career began in the mid-80s, is honored for her achievements in wireless technology and joins the ranks of honorees that include Vint Cerf, known as ‘the father of the internet.’ Although the awarding organization was founded by a woman, Gioia Marconi Braga, daughter of Italian inventor and engineer Guglielmo Marconi, Goldsmith acknowledges that women and minorities have not been encouraged to participate in scientific and technological fields, contributing to the lack of diversity among recipients.

‘There is implicit bias that prevents women and people of color in engineering from being recognized for their work in the same way that they would be recognized if they were not diverse, and there’s documented evidence of this,” Goldsmith said. “A lot of people don’t understand that this is still happening in 2020.’

To ensure outcomes that more closely align with the technology nonprofit’s mission to increase digital inclusion, the advisory committee that helps decide winners has been made more diverse. Beyond recognition, the prize comes with a $100,000 reward, which Goldsmith will donate back to the Marconi Society to fund a program for diversity and inclusion.

‘It’s an organization that’s small enough that the money can have a big impact on two areas I’m interested in investing in within the Marconi Society, which is technology around digital inclusion and advancing wireless technology. That’s not a lot of money for research and development, but I think there can be targeted opportunities to invest that money,’ Goldsmith said.

This philanthropic tendency is in part what won Goldsmith the prize.

‘We’re delighted to have someone who so well fills all of the desirable properties of a Marconi Fellow including the technical contributions, entrepreneurial capacity, and philanthropic interests,’ Cerf told Forbes. Cerf, whose life’s work has been the internet, spoke of the technology he helped create being able to bridge gaps of inclusion that have been laid bare by the global coronavirus pandemic.”

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