Dr. Thomas Mensah is a world-renowned Ghanaian – American inventor and chemical engineer well-known for his pioneering innovations in fiber optics and nanotechnology. Thomas Mensah was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1950. His father, J.K. Mensah, was a businessman who shipped cocoa products to chocolate manufacturers in France. Thomas was an exceptionally bright child, learning to read newspapers at an early age and becoming fluent in French. As a child, he often conversed in French with his father’s business associates. He went on to twice win the National Competition in France in 1968 and 1970.
Thomas received his early education at Adisadel College boys’ school in Cape Coast. An excellent student, particularly in science and math, he received a scholarship to study chemical engineering at the University of Science and Technology Kumasi, Ghana. He graduated in 1974 and was awarded a fellowship from the French government to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in Montpelier, France (USTL). While enrolled at USTL, 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 the university in 1977. A year later, he graduated from USTL with a PhD.
Career and Works
Settling in the United States, Thomas Mensah took a job at Air Products and Chemicals in Allentown, Pennsylvania, from 1980 to 1983. Mensah’s jobs in the 1980s were well suited to his strengths in basic research. From 1983 to 1986 he worked for Corning Glass Works in its fiber optics research division in Sullivan Park, New York. There he devised a new and faster method of accomplishing a fiber optics manufacturing procedure, the draw and coating process, that brought him four patents.
In 1986, Thomas Mensah joined AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he led the development of fiber optics utilized in guided missiles. Mensah’s work at Bell Laboratories ultimately resulted in the development of a fiber optics system that has been successfully deployed at speeds of up to MACH 1. He received another three patents for his developments in the guided missile program. In 1987 Mensah edited Fiber Optics Engineering: Processing and Applications, a collection of cutting-edge articles detailing the latest research in the field. The second collection of articles Mensah edited, Superconductor Engineering (1992), also pertained to a hot scientific area; superconductors are materials that exhibit no resistance to electricity when placed in extreme temperature environments.
“The application of superconductivity in modern society can revolutionize everything from high-speed computing to magnetically levitated high-speed trains,” Thomas Mensah wrote in his introduction to the book. In addition to his work with fiber optics, Mensah found success in other areas of science. He has created superconductors for space communication, designed a system for creating solid state rechargeable cell phone batteries, developed new filament wound composite structures to be used to provide a light replacement for tank gun barrels among many other inventions. He would eventually become the Founder of Georgia Aerospace which manufactured specialized composite structures for stealth aircraft.