An engineering student from Walthamstow has been touted as a “future industry leader” after winning a national award for designing an app to help railway engineers. Fahad Rage writes for Islam21c to speak of his success and impart on some advice for aspiring Muslims across the world.
First and foremost, I only share my experience in the hope that it might be of some benefit and motivation for the one who reads it and that it might ignite a spark in you to become a person who is a beacon of light in the path of improving society.
A few weeks ago I won the final of an engineering competition for a long-term project I had conducted during a year placement I undertook. This award is given for the work placement project which is judged to have had the most impact by students who were on the ‘Year in Industry’, a work placement programme run by the charity EDT (Engineering Development Trust). After winning the regional final (London and the South East), I went on to compete against nine other finalists. Our projects were judged by experts in the field and, following the submission of project reports, presentations and intensive questioning by the judges, I was announced the national winner.
The project brief was to design a tool for improving the compatibility of electrification design of Network Rail’s High Output Plant System (HOPS), which is used to install overhead line structures on the Great Western Railway. I learnt the necessary programming languages to design and build an App for this purpose and the solution has allowed designers to instantly calculate whether a planned installation is compatible with HOPS. The finished app has the potential to ensure that work can be delivered safely and efficiently saving significant time and money.
After this success, I took some time to reflect on the key lessons I had learnt from this and also from my past year at my company. Below, I have listed three points that I hope you can benefit from and attempt to implement to be successful in your endeavours. These points are Consistent Progression, Initiative and ‘Paying it forward’.
I. Consistent Progression:
We live in an age where goals are trying to be achieved in minimal amounts of time. For example, we see today the rise of ‘get fit in 4 weeks’ schemes or ‘learn a language over summer’ courses. Whilst these might have benefits for the short-term, it is important to realise that achieving a level of proficiency in anything you do takes time and effort. This was something that was emphasised to me by my supervisor over the last year and I have truly experienced the fruits of this through the level of development I feel I have achieved.
So how exactly do you achieve this consistency? The most crucial step occurs before you have even begun: setting goals and understanding the reason for why you want to achieve them. I want you to really focus on this step. Imagine yourself having achieved the goal and note down how you feel. Do you really want to achieve it? The next step is to break down the goal and set attainable daily and monthly targets. Once you have a clear picture of where you want to be and how you are going to get there, all that is left is to begin. From personal experience, the key is to start off with smaller targets as you will find yourself feeling more motivated and building momentum for every goal you accomplish. When I started this project, I had no idea where it was going to end up and felt overwhelmed with all the information I had but, after implementing this concept, it became a lot more manageable.
This is not easy and you will find yourself refining your targets and goals on occasion. You may also suffer from dips in motivation and this is why it is key for you to always look back at why you want to achieve your goals. The beautiful thing about this framework is that you can apply it to all aspects of your life from academia to building your Islamic knowledge and, before you know it, you will reach levels you never thought you would ever reach.
A hadith that I feel really resonated with me in this aspect is “The most beloved actions to Allah are those that are done continuously and persistently, even if they be few.”
Consider every opportunity that comes your way. Every opportunity. As someone who would let opportunities come and go, I can honestly say what you can miss out on could be the difference between you reaching your life goals and not. In this project, for example, I had the choice to attempt to learn how to make an app with no prior knowledge or to end the project where it was; I would not be writing this piece if I had not taken the chance. For those at university, do not be passive when an opportunity arises to help out at events such as Charity Week or during Islamic Society events; grab the chance with both hands!
The skills you develop and the people you meet have huge effects on your own personal development. These are experiences you will regret missing out on in the future if you are too afraid of leaving your comfort zone. Stretch yourself, learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and never let a chance go.
III. Pay it forward:
Do not be content with only helping yourself. Take what you know and use it to help and teach others. Everyone has the ability to help someone else whether it is through the knowledge that they have or just through the good manners that they treat someone with. I hear a lot of people worry about the younger generation and where they are heading so it up to us to be good role models for them and be people they aspire to be like in the hopes that one day they become people who change society for the better.
May Allah allow us to become a beacon of light in in our respective societies and, ultimately, enter into Jannah through His mercy.