Dr. Andrea Goldsmith, whose pioneering work in wireless communications engineering has helped maximize the capacity in critical demand in an age of COVID-19, has won the 2020 Marconi prize, the first woman to receive the prize in its 45-year history, according to the Marconi Society. "Goldsmith has been shattering silicon ceilings in engineering for decades," said the group.
"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, in announcing the award.
She won the award for adaptive modulation in wireless communications, which is essentially matching data speeds with the capacity the channel can support at any given time, which fluctuates based on things like walking rather than standing or being inside rather than outside a building. Goldsmith's work helped network designers match speeds. When data is sent at a constant speed during such fluctuations, screens can freeze and calls drop.
According to the society, all WiFi and cellular networks use her adaptive modulation techniques to maximize speed and performance. "That work has never been more important, as the network becomes our lifeline for work, shopping, socializing and entertainment" (during the pandemic), the society said.
"The honor is particularly meaningful to me at this moment in time, when our information and communications technologies are enabling our universities, companies, and the entire social ecosystem to function in a suddenly all-online world, as well as calling attention to the critical importance of digital inclusion. The value of connectivity could not be more apparent," said Goldsmith.
Goldsmith is donating the $100,000 Marconi Prize to the Marconi Society to endow technology and diversity initiatives.
Goldsmith arguably had the ideal background for applying both engineering principles and creative thinking as the daughter of a mechanical engineer and a cartoonist/designer for the iconic Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.