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How Ghanaian engineer Dr. Thomas Mensah earned the title, “The Greatest Mind Of The 21st Century”



Ghanaian-American chemical engineer and inventor, Dr Thomas O. Mensah has provided massive contributions as a son of Global Africa had have greatly changed the world, but you will not find his name in neon lights, unlike those of his White colleagues.

In fact, most Africans and people of African descent worldwide have not even heard about him. But his work has made it possible for the world to enjoy its current high level of digital communication, and even helped the US military to assert its supremacy in the field of laser-guided missiles.

Dr Mensah who contributed immensely to the development of laser-guided missiles for the US military is an expert in fibre optics and nano technology. But for his work, fibre optics would not be what it is today.

In an exclusive interview with Ameyaw Debrah,  the man known as “one of the great minds of the 21st century” shared his feats that earned him the  noble title.


He said:

“Fibre optics was developed in the lab and it stayed in the lab for 15 years. They couldn’t take it out of the lab and put in industry. So they called MIT to ask for one of their brightest boys to come take fibre optics commercial and I went to Corning Glass Works. Within one year, something that has been in the lab for 15 years, I solved the problem and moved the technology from the lab 2 meters a second to commercialization and industry to 20 meters a second so that we can make fibre optics cost as cheap as copper. We then replaced all fibre optics in America and even the whole world.”

This achievemnet in 1985 made Dr Mensah received the Corning Glass Works Individual Outstanding Contributor Award for this work in 1985.  This was the breakthrough the industry needed for a spectacular take-off.

With the CBS News acknowledging Dr Mensah’s high achievements by calling him “the engineer who revolutionised the internet”. It was no surprise that in 2014, he became the first African to be inducted into America’s elite National Academy of Inventors.

Listen to him share more about his passion to spur economic and technological developments in Ghana and Africa.


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