He has been described as the “Bill Gates of Africa”, an appellation that indicates his field of expertise. Dr. Philip Emeagwali was born in Nigeria in 1954.
Due to his poor background, he dropped out of school at age 14 because his father could not continue paying Emeagwali’s school fees.
His father, however, continued teaching him at home. Emeagwali performed mental exercises every day including solving 100 math problems in one hour. His father taught him intensely until Philip “knew more than he did.”
The part of Nigeria where Emeagweli grew up was torn by civil war, Emeagwali lived in a building crumbled by rocket shells. He believed his intellect was a way out of the line of fire. So he took his studies seriously, studying extra hard, and eventually received a scholarship to Oregon State University, USA when he was 17.
At Oregon State University he obtained a BS in mathematics. He also earned three other degrees. This includes a Ph.D. in Scientific computing from the University of Michigan and from George Washington University and two master’ degrees.
His study of nature, specifical bees, has brought acclaim at least in part to the noted black inventor. The inherent efficiency in the way bees construct and work with honeycomb inspired Emeagweli.
He saw an inherent efficiency in the process and determined that computers that emulate this process could be the most efficient and powerful.
In 1989, Emeagweli mirrored the bees’ honeycomb construction. He used 65,000 processors to invent the world’s fastest computer, a device that performs computations at 3.1 billion calculations per second.
Dr. Philip Emeagwali’s portfolio is loaded with many feats. One of such is ways of making oil fields more productive – which has resulted in the United States saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Dr. Emeagwali also has won the Gordon Bell Prize – the Nobel Prize for computation as one of the most famous African-American inventors of the 20th century. Emeagwali’s computers are currently being used to predict the likelihood and effects of future global warming and forecast the weather.
Dr. Philip Emeagwali’s story truly proves that we can achieve anything we set our minds to and that Africa and Africans are more than capable to uplift Africa. His achievements clearly show that the Black man has and will always contribute immensely to the technological advancement of mankind, despite what others may say.