Andrea Goldsmith

Awarded the Marconi Prize in 2020

Cited for pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of adaptive wireless communications.

Dr. Andrea Goldsmith is the Stephen Harris Professor of Engineering at Stanford University and the incoming Dean of Princeton University’s School of Engineering. She is a recognized innovator in wireless networking.

Dr. Goldsmith’s technical innovations that have shaped the fundamental performance of cellular and WiFi networks, combined with her leadership to radically improve diversity and inclusion in engineering, have changed both the consumer experience and the profession.

“Andrea has enabled billions of consumers around the world to enjoy fast and reliable wireless service, as well as applications such as video streaming and autonomous vehicles that require stable network performance,” said Vint Cerf, Chair of the Marconi Society and 1998 Marconi Fellow. “Andrea’s personal work and that of the many engineers who she has mentored have had a global impact on wireless networking.”

Goldsmith has been shattering silicon ceilings in engineering for decades and is an influential voice in creating an inclusive profession. As the first woman to be President of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic 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 has made it a priority to create opportunities for highly qualified women and to help under-represented groups compete on an equal playing field.

Goldsmith is donating her $100,000 Marconi Prize to the Marconi Society to start an endowment that will fund technology and diversity initiatives.

Andrea Goldsmith’s breakthrough contributions center on adaptive modulation. In the early 1990’s when Goldsmith started her work, and even today, networks are subject to fluctuations in capacity. These fluctuations can arise from a variety of factors including movement, such as walking with a phone, being inside a building or varying amounts of network usage at any given time. When data is sent at a constant speed during these fluctuations in network capacity, calls drop, screens freeze and other disruptions occur.

The adaptive modulation techniques that Goldsmith discovered let network designers match the speed at which data is sent with the speed the channel can support as network conditions and channel quality change. This research, implemented through both her entrepreneurial efforts and detailed descriptions that enabled network engineers around the world to leverage her findings, has influenced nearly every major cellular and WiFi network in the world.

One of the most prolific researchers and practitioners in the field, Goldsmith has developed extensive breakthroughs to enhance the speed and reliability of wireless networks. Her innovations in adaptive and multiuser multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) channel performance limits and practical algorithms helped to shape the MIMO techniques currently adopted in the 5G cellular and 6G Wi-Fi standards. She provides the foundation for Internet of Things applications, such as smart cities and cloud-enabled health and wellness, through her work on novel design principles for low-power ad hoc wireless networks.

That work has never been more important, as the network becomes our lifeline for work, shopping, socializing and entertainment.

Goldsmith co-founded two successful companies based on her research. Under her leadership as Chief Technology Officer, Quantenna Communications was the first to enable multiple HDTV video streams within a home, enabling consumers around the world to enjoy multiple shows and events at once. She later co-founded Plume to deliver high-performance home Wi-Fi mesh networks that support intelligent home applications such as parental controls and both physical and cyber security.

Just as she does for wireless network performance, Goldsmith sets the bar high for the engineering profession as a whole.

She has held a number of positions with the IEEE focused on diversity and inclusion, most recently as Chair of the organization’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, Inclusion and Ethics. Through her leadership and influence, the IEEE adopted its first-ever diversity statement and awarded five women with medals and technical field awards, the IEEE’s most important honors.