Profile of the late Dr. Thomas Mensah

Dr. Thomas Mensah, a world-renowned inventor with 7 US and worldwide patents in Fiber Optics, was born in 1950 in Kumasi, Ghana.

He won the French Government Fellowship in 1974 to do graduate studies in Chemical Engineering at Montpellier University, France, after receiving his undergraduate degree in the same field from UST Kumasi (1970-74).

Prior to his undergraduate work, Dr. Mensah attended Wesley College practice school in Kumasi and Adisadel College in Cape Coast. Dr. Mensah, who was fluent in French, won the National French competition in Ghana, both at the O Levels (1968) and A Levels (1970), held in Accra.

He held a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Montpellier University in 1978, and a Certificate in Modeling of Chemical Processes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He held high-level engineering positions in US industry first at Air Products and Chemicals (1980-83), then at Corning Glass Works in Fiber Optics research at Sullivan Park, New York, from 1983 to 1986, where he built the fastest Fiber Optics draw and coating process, 50 meters per second.

He held 4 patents for this effort. He joined AT&T Bell laboratories in 1986 and led the program to develop fiber optic reels used in the guided missile program. This effort led to the development of a system that was successfully deployed at missile speeds up to Mach 1 (The Speed of Sound).

He received 3 US patents on this technology. Dr. Mensah also Founded the high-tech firm Supercond Technology in Norcross which specializes in Aerospace and Communication products. His firm focuses on advanced structural materials development for Supersonic US Fighter Aircraft like the F-22, the fastest Jet in the World.

On the International level, Dr. Mensah was a founding member of the Emerging Technologies area for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). He was the first and only black person to serve as the National Chairman of the Materials and Engineering Sciences Division of the AIChE.

He edited two book volumes for AIChE, namely Fiber Optics Engineering, 1987, and Superconductor Engineering, 1992. Dr. Mensah was elected to serve as a Director and member of the Council of the Board of Directors of this pre-eminent engineering organization from 1987 to 1990.

He also served on the visiting committee/Advisory board for Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT from 1988 -1992.

As a world expert in the field of advanced materials, Dr. Mensah worked on specialized projects for NASA (Superconductors for space communications), the US Army (Smart munitions Picatinny Arsenal), and the US Department of Energy (Fiber optics sensors for Highway Traffic monitoring). Dr. Mensah had additional patents pending in some of these areas.

Dr. Mensah recently led a team in the design and commissioning of one of the world’s most advanced scalable high vacuum, Radio Frequency sputtering systems used for fabricating computer chips and other electronic products. His current work includes next-generation MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) and Nano Systems Technology.

Dr. Mensah had other ventures in the US aimed at improving technology transfer to developing nations and enhancing trade such as the African-Ecommerce.Com Corporation, as well as web-based training programs aimed at producing a competitive workforce for the 21st century using the internet platform.

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He was featured in the Marquis Who is Who in Science and Technology, as well as Who is Who in Optical Engineering. Since 1994, a traveling exhibit featuring 100 Black achievers in Science and Technology, including Dr. Mensah, was shown in major cities in the United States. He was also featured in the Black Inventors traveling exhibit around the world.

Dr. Mensah delivered technical presentations around the world and chaired several symposia for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Below are selected publications by Dr. Mensah:

1. T.O. Mensah et al, Radiation Effects on Optical Fibers; Proceedings of the European Conference on Optical Fibers, ECOC, Helsinki, 1987.

2. T.O. Mensah. Enhancement of Strauss secondary flow mixing in thin film commercial reactors. Chemical Engineering Communication Journal, 1985.

3. T.O. Mensah et al Analysis (Finite Element) of Composite Overwrap, Filament wound structures, Proceedings, Army Research workshop Conference, New Orleans, September, 1994.

4. T.O. Mensah et al Optical Properties of Epitaxial PLT Thin Films, Proceedings of Material Research Society, Annual Conference, Boston, 1995.

5. T.O. Mensah, Editor, Superconductor Engineering, AIChE Symposium Series Book Volume 88, No. 287, 1992.

6. T.O. Mensah, Editor, Fiber Optics Engineering, AIChE Symposium Series, Book Volume 283, 1987.

7 T. O. Mensah, US Patent number 5,035,169 Guided Vehicle System, July 30, 1991.

8. T.O. Mensah, US Patent number 4,692,615, Apparatus for monitoring Tension in a moving fiber, September, 1987.

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