Home Breaking News Ghanaian Fiber Optics Innovator, Dr Thomas Mensah, Dies At 74

Ghanaian Fiber Optics Innovator, Dr Thomas Mensah, Dies At 74

Dr Thomas Mensah Picture Credit; Thefeatherpost
Dr Thomas Mensah Picture Credit; Thefeatherpost

Ghanaian-American inventor, Dr. Thomas Mensah, known worldwide for his pioneering work in fibre optics, has died.

According to news making the rounds, the Ghanaian originator passed away on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, at the Kumasi Catholic Hope Exchange Hospital in the Ashanti Region after a brief illness.

Snippets of a statement issued by the family on Thursday, March 28, 2024, indicated that the venerated creator died at age 74.

Biography of Dr. Thomas Mensah, according to Wikipedia:

Thomas Owusu Mensah (1949/1950 – 27 March 2024) was a Ghanaian-American chemical engineer and inventor who contributed to the development of fiber optic manufacturing and nanotechnology. He had 14 patents and was inducted into the US National Academy of Inventors in 2015.[2] In 2017, Mensah served as Editor-in-Chief of the textbook Nanotechnology Commercialization, published by John Wiley and Sons. Mensah died on 27 March 2024, at the age of 74.

Early life and education

Thomas Mensah was born in Kumasi, Ghana. His father, J.K. Mensah, was a merchant who shipped cocoa products to chocolate manufacturers in France. Mensah was fluent in French, and won the National French competition in Ghana, both at the Ordinary Levels (1968) and Advanced Levels (1970) in Accra Ghana.

Mensah attended Adisadel College in Cape Coast Ghana and completed his undergraduate studies in chemical engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He then received a French government fellowship to study at Montpellier University in France. While there, he took part in a program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received a certificate in Modeling and Simulation of Chemical Processes from MIT in 1977. A year later, he graduated with his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Montpelier University.

Mensah worked at Air Products and Chemicals from 1980 to 1983.

In 1983, Mensah joined Corning Glass Works, working in fiber optics research at Sullivan Park, New York. Researchers at Corning had previously developed optical fiber with loss below the crucial attenuation limit of 20 dB/km, but the fibers could not be manufactured at rates higher than 2 meters per second. Mensah improved the manufacturing process through a series of innovations, raising the speed of manufacture to 20 meters per second by 1985. This made the cost of optical fiber comparable to traditional copper cables. Mensah received the Corning Glass Works Individual Outstanding Contributor Award for this work in 1985. His work ultimately raised the speed of manufacture above 50 m/s.

Mensah moved to Bell Laboratories in 1986, where he led a program to develop the first laser-guided weapons for the US Department of Defense guided missile program. This program enabled the development of missiles that travel at the speed of sound (Mach 1).

Dr Thomas Mensah
Dr Thomas Mensah

Mensah was president and CEO of Georgia Aerospace Systems, which manufactures nanocomposite structures used in missiles and aircraft for the US Department of Defense.[8][9] On February 24, 2017, CBS Television News ran a segment for Black History Month featuring Mensah titled “The Engineer Who Revolutionized the Internet.”

Mensah also served on the board of several organizations, including the AIChE National Board of Directors (1987–1990), and was a Trustee of the Board of AIChE Foundation and a board member for the NASA Space Grant Consortium at Georgia Institute of Technology. Mensah was elected a Fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors in 2014.

Mensah was chairman of Entertainment Arts Research Inc., a virtual reality and video game design company.

From early 2016, Mensah worked to create a “Silicon Valley of the South” in the U.S. state of Texas.

Mensah was a recipient of several awards, including Turner’s Trumpet Award for Fiber Optics Innovation, the Percy L. Julian Award, the Golden Torch Award, the highest award by NSBE, the William Grimes Award, and the Eminent Engineers award by AIChE. He was also a member of the AIChE 100. In December 2017 he received the Kwame Nkrumah African Genius Award in Science/Technology and Innovation in Ghana.

Innovator Dr Thomas Mensah
Innovator Dr Thomas Mensah

Mensah delivered the 10th R. P. Baffour Lecture at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on November 23, 2017, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree after the lecture. In November 2015, he received the International Business Leadership Award from the African Leadership Magazine in Atlanta Georgia, USA. He has been profiled in Ebony Magazine’s edition of October 2006 and Chemical Engineering Progress Magazine’s edition of October 2008, March 2009 and March 2015.

Mensah served on the visiting committee in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1988 to 1992. He has also published four books: Fiber Optics Engineering in 1987, Superconductor Engineering in 1992, his autobiography The Right Stuff Comes in Black, Too in 2013, and Nanotechnology Commercialization in 2017. In the first quarter of 2015, the government of the State of Georgia in the US passed a House Resolution to commend Mensah and his works.

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