The Lockheed Martin F-35 is the most advanced fighter jet in the world. It is considered the most lethal and survivable fighter aircraft of its kind. How exciting would it be to become a part of the program to build it? Most aerospace enthusiasts would consider it a dream job. And for Asim Rahman, this dream became a reality in early 2019.
Brought up in Dhaka's Dhanmondi and later in Uttara, Asim attended Sunbeams from playgroup to A-Levels. Upon completing his A-Levels in 2010, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia the same year, to pursue a Bachelor's degree. His hard work and perseverance paid off when he was selected at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which is ranked the Number #2 school in the US for aerospace engineering.
Although he joined a start-up as a software engineer after graduating, his passion was to work for the US defence sector. But there was one major drawback: US citizenship is necessary for employment in such sectors. He wanted to be a part of something grand that would leave a mark in history.
Asim did not waste time and immediately applied in the aerospace industry as soon as he got his citizenship.
"A very good friend of mine from Georgia Tech told me about an opportunity at Lockheed Martin and I immediately applied. After several rounds of interviews, I was given an offer and signed on as a Manufacturing Engineer for the F-35 program. This was the beginning of my exciting journey in the aerospace industry," Asim told The Business Standard.
One of the most exciting things for Asim was to see the F-35 in action at an air show in Houston a few months ago. "There was a great sense of pride in seeing the grace and agility of the warfighter I work so closely with. Even cooler was meeting the fighter pilots afterwards."
It might sound like his life is all about study and work. It is however much more than that. Asim has travelled to 32 countries all over the world.
"My favourite hobby is to travel. It sounds like a cliché, but I aim to visit every country in the world. I make a point to collect the embarkation stamps from each country! My most memorable trip so far has to be my visit to Iceland," Asim said.
He is also a huge fan of the Bangladesh cricket team. "One of my favourite ways to unwind is to watch cricket". Last year, he even flew to England to support the team. "I was fortunate enough to meet the players and was even featured on TV with my life-sized Bengal Tiger!" he said with a hint of pride.
Asim's hobbies do not end here. He also likes to stay busy and occasionally tutor high school and college students. As a self-proclaimed foodie, he loves to try out new restaurants in and around the city and when he travels. "I am known to have no trouble driving over an hour for some good food!"
Based in America, Lockheed Martin is one of the largest companies in the aerospace technology industry. But what exactly does Asim do?
"As a manufacturing engineer, I focus on the design and operation of production. I assist in all phases of the manufacturing process, develop new methods and tools to improve the build process. It is unique in that you get to be very hands-on with your work," he expounded.
It has been a little more than a decade since he left his motherland for the US. Over the course of time, he has studied at one of the best institutions and is now working at a highly reputable multinational company.
For a person born and raised in a developing country like Bangladesh, it is quite a success. What was the secret behind this achievement?
"To be candid, I was never an overly-ambitious student. In fact, a common complaint from all my teachers was that I did not work to my truest potential," he chuckled. "I only realised the importance of such advice later on in my journey - though thankfully it was early enough for me to study hard for my degree!"
Although he admits that there is no so-called secret mantra, for him it was hard work and doing the right thing at the right moment. "I believe in taking advantage of your youth so you can reap the benefits later."
"My future plans are to pursue a graduate degree and continue to grow in my career at Lockheed Martin. It is essential to set goals for your career but to also ensure you have chosen something you enjoy and feel genuinely passionate about. I encourage any young people reading this to believe in their abilities and to persevere. Success does not come easy, nor is it immediate". As the legendary cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar once said, "Enjoy the game, and chase your dreams because dreams do come true"
How is life in the US? He believes that moving to the US has opened up new opportunities which otherwise might not have been possible staying in Bangladesh. However, he also advises someone who is considering moving there that they should be prepared to work hard.
"I will say anyone considering a move to the US should be prepared to work hard. We often overlook the little luxuries we have back home and forget that life is not the same in this part of the world. However, I know I would not have had the same opportunities otherwise."
Another upside to Asim's move to the U.S was finding the love of this life! Although they planned a big 'desi' wedding last year, that was cut short due to Covid-19. "She is an industrial psychologist by profession and I am blessed to have someone as supportive and caring as her by my side. I'm excited to share many memories in the future with her."
Growing up in a tightly knit family with parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, he feels grateful for the support his family provided him. He especially mentioned his grandfather's role as his biggest role model and motivator. He also considered himself fortunate to have caring and selfless parents.
Presently, Asim is planning to start his Master's degree in Leadership in Manufacturing Engineering at Georgia Tech. For him, "learning is a life-long journey and should not be defined by grades and numbers. Rather, the focus should be on quality and development", as he puts it. "It is important to be well-informed and to read up on new developments in your career - be it through degrees or personal projects," he explains.