Black History Month: An Interview with Thomas Mensah, FNAI

Orginal interview recorded February 14th, 2022. 

“I am one of the four creators of laser-based fiber optics that carry all data and information on the modern-day internet platform and has given rise to companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Ali Baba, Amazon, Google etc., and allowed people to send Facebook photos from their cell phones and access ATM machines all over the world.

After earning my engineering degree from MIT, I was hired to solve a problem.
Before 1985, everything was based on copper wiring. It was impossible to move technology from the lab to industry.

My parents were instrumental to my thought process, and I was especially inspired by my late father who instilled in me the idea that I can do anything and solve any problem that I focused my mind on.” His father also read the newspaper to Mensah, starting at age four.

Within six months, I solved the problem.

At the moment, I am focusing on developing countries like Africa where the internet penetration is low (less than 15 % versus the 90% of the U.S).

I’m pushing for ultra-high-speed trains, like in Japan, to install fiber optic cable along to the path of the train (traveling
at 400 miles an hour) to provide safe operation. In Japan, trains can travel during earthquakes without problems.

I have also created training centers where we recently built a Talking Robot that uses proximity centers to navigate around objects and can speak five languages

As a Fellow of NAI I am glad to use my knowledge to solve problems around the world.”

Hear Dr. Mensah talk on his journey from Ghana to revolutionizing the internet: