People & Interviews

Meet Dr. Marian Croak. The woman behind VoIP

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We utilize Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, on a daily basis, but like many advancements, this technology began somewhere and with someone. To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, we are very pleased to introduce you to a woman whose extraordinary talents and forward-looking invention continue to impact our ever-changing world of technology – Dr. Marian Croak. In honor of women’s accomplishments in technology and business, today we are focusing on this exceptional person.

Who is Dr. Marian Croak?

Marian Croak is hardly a household name, despite having accomplished so much and driving innovation ahead for the benefit of so many. Dr. Marian Rogers Croak is the Vice President of Engineering at Google and former Senior Vice President of Research and Development at AT&T

 

Marian is a soft-spoken woman who describes herself as a non-talker, yet her actions shouted volumes in favor of Internet Protocol (IP) as the future of communications. In her career, Dr. Marian Croak has been recognized as the inventor of Voice over Internet Protocol and has been awarded over 200 patents, almost half of which are in VoIP. In addition, she has more than 100 pending patent applications. Many of these inventions lay the foundation for the digital networks we know and depend on today.

About Dr. Marian Croak and her career

Marian Croak was born in 1955 and raised in New York City. As a child, she was intrigued by plumbers, electricians and other specialists who came to work at her family’s house when things broke. This youthful curiosity paved the way for her desire to be able to “repair things” or make things better. Her high school math and science professors, as well as her father, who built her a home chemistry set, motivated her to seek a STEM profession.

 

Marian attended Princeton University and earned her doctorate in social psychology and quantitative analysis at the University of Southern California. She joined AT&T Bell Laboratories after completing her degree in 1982. Within her division, Marian and her team began exploring TCP/IP, believing it was the wave of the future. Marian claims that when the Internet initially gained popularity, she anticipated that IP and the Internet would explode in popularity. As a result, she felt compelled to begin building technologies that would “transform the Internet.” And she did just that. Even though the technology was not really ready for the projected load of integrated voice, data and video, she fought for the protocol and persuaded the company executives that IP was the way to go.

 

Marian was assigned to lead a team of 2,000 engineers to prepare the network when AT&T integrated the IP and voice networking engineering teams. Marian recognized both the desire of the quick-to-market IP engineers and the networking team’s slow and steady, test-happy attitude. Not only did she serve as a mentor to her team, but she was also in charge of development, QA, service planning and product implementation.

 

Dr. Marian R. Croak has been working for Google as their Vice President of Research and Development for access strategy and emerging markets since leaving AT&T in 2014. Dr. Croak‘s job includes broadening the scope of what the Internet can accomplish across the world. Her desire to deliver Internet connectivity to places around the globe where it is unavailable is being accomplished through her work at Google.

Dr. Marian Croak’s achievements

  • Awarded for her text-to-donate technology, which was inspired by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
  • Inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013.
  • Won the 2013 and 2014 Edison Patent Awards.
  • In 2014, she 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.
  • Vice Chair at Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS).
  • Member of the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Corporate Advisory Board at her alma mater, the University of Southern California.
  • Featured in the USPTO’s SUCCESS (Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success) Act Report in 2018.
  • In 2021, announced to be one of the first two Black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Conclusion

Dr. Marian Rogers Croak is one of many women of color who have contributed to global technological innovation, and she continues to stand tall among the world’s inventors. Marian’s contribution to VoIP has truly brought the Internet to a new level, although most people are unaware of her accomplishments. We hope Dr. Croak inspires women in technology to be loyal to themselves, to be passionate and pursue their goals.