Black Inventors and Innovators - Meredith Gourdine
Meredith Gourdine was born on September 26, 1929 in Newark, New Jersey and died November 20, 1998 in Houston, Texas. Gourdine was an athlete, engineer and physicist.
Gourdine’s father was a painter and a janitor and instilled a strong work ethic in his son. His father also taught him the importance of staying in school and emphasized academics.
Gourdine excelled in academics and athletics in high school. Gourdine was offered a swimming scholarship to the University of Michigan but chose to go to CornellUniversity. It was not until his sophomore year that CornellUniversity offered Gourdine a scholarship in Track and Field. Gourdine competed in sprints, hurdles and the long jump and Cornell took second place at the 1952 NCAA Track and Field Championship to The University of Southern California. In that same year Gourdine was chosen to represent the United States in the Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. Gourdine won the silver medal in the long jump losing by one and half inches. Gourdine received a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics and then entered the United States Navy. Following his Navy career Gourdine received a Ph.D in Engineering Science from the California Institute of Technology.
With money borrowed from family and friends Gourdine opened a research laboratory in New Jersey called Gourdine Laboratories which employed 150 people. Then 10 years later he founded Energy Innovation Inc. in Texas which produced direct-energy conversion devices that would convert coal into electrical energy. During this time Gourdine created the Incineraid system used to disperse smoke from burning buildings and fog on airport runways, a process for desalinating seawater and a high-powered industrial paint spray to name just a few. Gourdine held over 30 patents most of which were used for allergen-filtration systems similar to those used in households today.
In the years before Gourdine’s death he suffered from diabetes which caused him to lose one of his legs and his sight.
Gourdine was an Olympic athlete and an inspiration to all. Not only did he excel athletically but academically as well and has helped us all to breathe a little easier.