Today, we celebrate Philip Emeagwali – Nigerian Inventor and Computer Scientist.
“The hardships that I encountered in the past will help me succeed in the future.”
Philip Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria on 23 August 1954. He was raised in Onitsha in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. His early schooling was suspended in 1967 as a result of the Nigerian Civil War. At age 13, he served in the Biafran army. After the war he completed high-school equivalence through self-study.
He traveled to the United States to study under a scholarship following completion of a correspondence course at the University of London. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He later moved to Washington D.C., receiving in 1986 a master’s degree from George Washington University in ocean and marine engineering, and a second master’s in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland. During this time, he worked as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming.
In 1989, Emeagwali won the Gordon Bell Prize for price-performance in high-performance computing applications, in an oil reservoir modeling calculation using a novel mathematical formulation and implementation.
Emeagwali’s simulation was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modeling.
He was cited by Bill Clinton as an example of what Nigerians can achieve when given the opportunity and is frequently featured in popular press articles that celebrate Black excellence.