Women’s History Month Feature – Dr. Marian Croak

Jeff Thoele

Who is Dr. Marian Croak?

Born in 1955 and raised in New York City, Dr. Marian Croak developed a fascination for STEM thanks in part to early role models, such as her high school math and science teachers, and her father who built her a home chemistry set.

Having completed her doctoral studies in statistical analysis and social psychology at USC in 1982, Dr. Croak has been quoted as saying that she, “actually thought that she would become a plumber.” 

Well, following a long and successful career at Bell Laboratories and AT&T, Dr. Croak is now the Vice President of Responsible AI and Human Centered Technologies at Google.

Dr. Croak has come a long way from considering being a plumber.

Though you may not recognize her name, Dr. Croak has accomplished an incredible amount when it comes to some of the world’s most ubiquitous technologies.

Dr. Croak, as described by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, is: a prolific inventor in the voice and data communication fields, with over 200 patents to her name. 

Of all of Dr. Croak’s patents, though, Voice Over Internet Protocol is perhaps her most well known – or, at the very least, her most used.

Image of Dr. Marian Croak

What is Voice Over Internet Protocol? 

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology which allows people to make voice calls using one’s broadband Internet connection as opposed to having to use a regular (or analog) phone line. 

In a nutshell, VoIP services (think Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, RingCentral, etc.) convert your voice into a digital signal which is then sent over the Internet. 

In today’s day and age, most of us utilize VoIP on a daily basis.

If you have any other questions, the FCC has a great page dedicated to VoIP.

Image highlight how Voice over Internet Protocol Works

Dr. Marian Croak, American Idol, and Hurricane Katrina

Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of Dr. Croak’s career, though, came from watching “American Idol” as Dr. Croak and her team devised a text-to-vote systems to help solve the major network issues that came from people voting on the show for their favorite contestants. 

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Dr. Croak adapted this technology to help raise money for the victims through a text-to-donate system. Making the patent freely available, The Red Cross quickly implemented it which led to the organization’s largest response effort ever.

“It was so distressing to see what was happening and to know that people needed help, and they needed immediate help,” Dr. Marian Croak said. “I thought that a very quick way of being able to get donations to people could be by using a text application similar to what we had done with ‘American Idol.’”

Additional Achievements of Dr. Marian Croak’s:

  • Inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013
  • Won the 2013 and 2014 Edison Patent Awards
  • In 2014, Dr. Croak was named one of FierceWireless’ Most Influential Women in Wireless
  • Honored for her “Outstanding Technical Contribution – Industry” at the 28th annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Conference in Washington, D.C.
  • Served on the boards of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, Catalyst, the Holocaust and Human Rights Museum (New Jersey), and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.
  • In 2021, Dr. Croak was announced to be one of the first two Black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Source – Meet Dr. Marian Croak. The inventor of VoIP

Image showing a picture of Dr. Marian Croak with her VoIP Patent No. 7,599,359

I’ll Leave you with this Quote:

Dr. Marian Croak is the first representative of Magnetic Mobile’s celebration of Women’s History Month. She is an incredible woman who has accomplished so much, so selflessly. 

So much and so selflessly that I didn’t even get a chance to speak about Dr. Croak’s role in creating racial justice initiatives at Google.

Or to Dr. Croak leading the team(s) that built fiber networks in Africa and helped bring the first major deployment of Wi-Fi to India

I thought that this quote encapsulated Dr. Croak extremely well:.

“What I’m learning after 40 years in technology, and I think I’ve always known this and practiced it but now I can articulate it, is that we can’t really separate science from people,” Dr. Marian Croak said in an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame. “People discover things, people are the ones that are contributing and making science. I want to see things become better in my lifetime, and fortunately I have seen that, but I want it to keep going in that direction.”

Additional Women’s History Month Features:

You can view the other women that we’ve featured here:

Katherine Johnson – NASA’s Hidden Figure

About Magnetic Mobile

Magnetic Mobile is a full-service digital agency focused on creating best-in-class mobile applications, responsive websites, and engaging experiences for national manufacturing and retail brands. Magnetic combines expertise in user experience, content strategy, and creative design with the latest technology and development best practices to influence the entire customer journey—maximizing brand recognition and loyalty for clients. In 2022, Magnetic introduced Charge AR, the retail industry’s first solution for in-scene augmented reality promotional offers. For more information, visit magneticmobile.com and chargear.com – or fill out the form below.