Dr. Marian Croak is currently named as an inventor on over 200 patents, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2022. Along with Dr. Patricia Bath, she was one of the first two African American women ever to be inducted.
Dr. Marian Croak, now a Vice President of Engineering at Google, is best known for her contributions to the fields of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and text-to-donate technology. She is currently named as an inventor on over 200 patents, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2022. Along with Dr. Patricia Bath, she was one of the first two African American women ever to be inducted.
Born and raised in New York City, she credits her father—who did not have a formal education beyond elementary school—for helping to foster her lifelong interest in technology. He built her a home chemistry set, which encouraged her pursue a STEM career. While growing up, she was fascinated by electricians, plumbers, and others who would come to fix things around her family’s home. This desire to learn how things worked and fix them when they broke has been the theme of her career as an engineer.
After attending college at Princeton University and obtaining her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, she began her career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1982. There, she began researching the digital transmission of voice, text, and video data. It was during her time at AT&T that she obtained a patent for text-to-donate technology, which was inspired in part by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. At the same time, internet use was becoming more widespread and Dr. Croak realized the potential it held for voice traffic transmission. This realization led to her developing the fundamentals of VoIP protocols used today. In 2014, she joined Google as a Vice President, where she has continued creating innovative solutions in the VoIP space and beyond.
The COVID-19 pandemic has recently highlighted how important it is for individuals and organizations to stay connected. The use of video and audio conferencing continues to become more widespread, and VoIP has allowed these technologies to continue to evolve. Perhaps now more than ever, we are thankful for the contributions of Dr. Marian Croak to our ability to communicate quickly and reliably, even while apart.
Author: Hannah Mosby O’Brien