Back to Blog
Leaders in Innovation

2024 NIHF Inductee Andrea Goldsmith: Making Meaningful Connections

How often do you rely on fast wireless service to keep you connected to the important people and places in your life? Most of us depend on Wi-Fi every day for communicating, working, shopping, learning and having fun – and we have great innovators to thank for it.

As we welcome a new class of National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees this year, we are proud to honor one particular innovator whose work has shaped the performance of wireless networking and enabled fast, reliable wireless service around the world. Read on to learn more about 2024 Inductee Andrea Goldsmith.

Enlightening Exploration

Born July 4, 1964, Goldsmith grew up in Los Angeles. She credits both her parents with influencing and encouraging her innovative spirit. In an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, she shared, “I got a very creative way of thinking from my mom, and an engineering side of thinking from my dad.”

Goldsmith also said her father, a Holocaust survivor, not only showed her the meaning of resilience but also provided her with valuable advice on continuing her education. He recommended she start college as an engineering major and be open to exploring other fields. Goldsmith’s drive to explore shaped her youth and would later be integral to her career.

“You don't need to follow a straight and narrow path for your ultimate destination,” Goldsmith explained.

While she was in high school, Goldsmith had begun taking courses through the junior college system, which she described as “an amazing resource for students.” When she was 17, she left school with her GED to travel through Europe, spending much of what would have been her senior year in Greece. She said this experience was “transformative” because it allowed her to see her own country and culture through others’ eyes.

When Goldsmith returned from Europe, she enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where she became deeply invested in applying math and science to solve problems and create technologies that could improve lives.

“I would say I'm passionate about technology to benefit humanity,” said Goldsmith. “I think you can design technology that makes the world a better place.”


Inspiring Innovation

Goldsmith earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering mathematics in 1986, and her master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering in 1991 and 1994, respectively. While pursuing her degrees, she began to imagine new possibilities for the future as she worked for a defense communications startup that focused on wireless communication.

There, she began “envisioning how this technology could change the world long before Wi-Fi. Cellular was just ramping up at that time.”

Goldsmith began teaching at the California Institute of Technology after earning her doctorate. In 1999, she joined the electrical engineering faculty at Stanford University. “The best thing about being a professor is the students we mentor,” she said. “They're the future of the profession.”

One of the most prolific researchers in wireless communications, Goldsmith discovered adaptive modulation techniques that would allow network designers to align the speed at which data is sent with the speed a channel can support while network conditions and channel quality fluctuate.

Her technical innovations, including adaptive beamforming for multi-antenna Wi-Fi, have greatly influenced the performance of wireless networking. Her work has reduced network disruptions, formed the foundation for the Internet of Things and made it possible for people to rely on fast Wi-Fi service globally.


Constant Creativity

Goldsmith’s drive to explore and create led her not only to work for startups but also to found ambitious startups of her own. In 2005, Goldsmith co-founded Quantenna Communications Inc. to accomplish something she says no one believed was possible at the time – enabling video distribution through the home over Wi-Fi. Five years later, she co-founded Plume Design Inc.

Currently, Goldsmith serves as the dean of engineering and applied science at Princeton University. She has earned 38 U.S. patents and influenced virtually all cellular and Wi-Fi networks worldwide through her research, innovations and entrepreneurship.

Her work has earned her many honors, including the 2020 Marconi Prize. This prestigious award acknowledged her “pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of adaptive wireless communications.”

To continue advancing engineering into the future, Goldsmith understands that it is essential to promote diversity and embrace many different backgrounds, experiences, ideas and perspectives.

With this in mind, she founded and chaired the IEEE Board of Directors Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and led efforts to improve the culture of IEEE and the profession. Such efforts help ensure that all engineers are empowered to reach their full potential.


Meet More of Our World-Changing 2024 Inductees

To learn more about the new National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees whose stories will inspire generations through our events, museum exhibits and invention education programs, visit our website.

Related Articles