February 4, 2020
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Meredith C. Gourdine. Dr. Gourdine was a highly successful scientist and entrepreneur. His pioneering research and product development in electrogasdynamics has made an indelible legacy on our world.
Meredith C. Gourdine was born September 26, 1929, in Newark, New York. Raised in Brooklyn, he attended Brooklyn Tech High School, where he was a star athlete in swimming and track and field. After graduation, he turned down swim scholarship at the University of Michigan to attended Cornell University, where he earned the nickname “Flash” as an intercollegiate track champion while also studying engineering. In 952, he competed in the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, where he would win a silver medal in the long jump. That same year he graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in engineering.
After graduating from Cornell University, Gourdine served as an officer in the U.S. Navy and then did graduate work in engineering at the California Institute of Technology, supported by a Guggenheim fellowship. He worked as a senior research scientist at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory for two years before completing his Ph.D. in Engineering Physics in 1960. Shortly afterwards, he became a Lab Director of the Plasmodyne Corporation for two years and then went on to become the Chief Scientists of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation until 1964.
After leaving the private industry, Dr. Gourdine founded his own research and development firm, Gourdine Systems, in Livingston, NJ. His company staffed over 150 and has been issued several patents on gas dynamic products as a result of his work. In 1973, he founded another company, Energy Innovations, in Houston, TX. Here is where he produced direct-energy conversion devices from his patented designs.
Legacy - Pioneering work in Electrogasdynamics
Gourdine was an expert in electrogasdynamics, the generation of electrical energy based on the conversion of the kinetic energy contained in a high-pressure, ionized, moving combustion gas. Gourdine's companies developed commercial applications for electrogasdynamics, garnering patents for converting natural gas to electricity, desalinating sea water, creating circuit breakers, and for acoustic imaging. He also invented the “focus flow heat sink,” which cools computer chips. But Gourdine is best known for developing the electrostatic precipitator filtration system, which removes smoke from burning buildings, fog from airport runways, and, today, allergens and other particulates from the air of many homes.