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Black Inventors and Innovators - Meredith Gourdine

Updated on February 20, 2011


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. 


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    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Hello - This is so very true. I cannot believe how they triumphed so through adversity. It is simply amazing!

      Bk - There is so much that is not taught its almost embarrasing. The people that I have learned about through doing these hubs have astounded me. There is no reason why they should not be taught in school.

    • BkCreative profile image


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I had no idea. And here I am an educator. There is still soooo very much lacking in our curriculum. Thanks for filling in the many, many blank spaces.

      Rated way up! Yay!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Gosh, I admire these people who had it so much harder and yet they achieved so much more.


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