The story of Philip Emeagwali

I really enjoy reading biographies that sound like a story written by Dickens. The childhood of Philip Emeagwali is one of those. It seemed the dawn of a life destined for poverty in his native land of Nigeria. Unable to attend school, Philip spent most of his day in the public library studying maths and physics. After a period of study and general examinations, he decided to apply to colleges in Europe and the US and then was offered a scholarship by Oregon State University.

In the 1980s he worked as a civil engineer in Maryland and Wyoming, but his real success was yet to come. His work with parallel supercomputing to simulate the extration of oil, water and gas in reservoirs, led him to the Gordon Bell prize. Emeagwali has won several other awards and his achievements were quoted in a speech by Bill Clinton as an example of what poor but talented people can achieve when given an opportunity. Maybe Emeagwali is a media hype but there is something absolutely true in this story: self-education in maths, engineering or computing is the most effective way to pass the poverty line in many countries.

Here you have a short video of Emeagwali I found on YouTube.