September 21, 2018
What would his grandfather have said? He was the one who encouraged him to come to Germany to study – and, of course, he would have been very proud. Once a year, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards prizes to foreign students for their outstanding academic achievements and their notable social commitment. This year’s winner at Jacobs University Bremen is Muhammad Yusuf Azka from Indonesia.
“My grandfather was a Germany fan, especially of its engineering and research achievements,” says the 19-year-old, whom everyone only calls Azka. He lived with his grandfather for some time before he joined his parents in Saudi Arabia who worked in the oil industry there. In the Kingdom, he attended International Schools Group Damman High School, an American-style school with students from 40 countries. “That was good preparation for the international nature of Jacobs University,” says Azka, who can speak seven languages.
German was not one of them when he came to Bremen at the age of 17. It was not only the language that was foreign to him, he had also never experienced Western culture before. Nevertheless, he quickly realized that Jacobs University was the right place for him. “One is surrounded by people from more than 100 countries here. Everyone is in a similar situation, everyone is open, very interested and very committed. In such an environment, one improves quickly, because many students work very hard.”
Azka was already a top student in Saudi Arabia and was chosen to give the commencement speech for his class. He also achieved top marks at Jacobs University and was involved in more than just his studies. For example, he was one of the organizers of the Jacobs Startup Competition and the TedX Innovation Conference, where speakers from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds try to inspire others with their ideas.
Azka is a third-year student of Industrial Engineering and Management, a course that combines technical and intercultural skills with management knowledge. “The course teaches one to think outside the box, whether it’s designing a digital or traditional product, securing the supply chain or optimizing a process. The diversity of content helps one to develop a deeper understanding and build better products that are important. That is exactly what I want to do.”
His aim in life is to become a well-known entrepreneur, to build something of his own as a product designer, and he is pursuing this goal with great passion. “For me, being an entrepreneur means creating something you love, something you dream about, something you might hate sometimes, but something which makes a difference to society.”
Azka is well on his way to achieving his goal. In addition to his studies, he is developing an e-commerce product for the sharing economy, i.e the provision of sharing data, location, and goods, which is aimed. His target group are young adults from Generation Z, who are eager to combine economic success in the working world with social responsibility. Muhammad is right in the middle of product development, talking to investors, advisers, marketer, and engineer. “At the end of the year,” he says, “I want to kick-start this.” There is no doubt that his grandfather would also have been very proud of it.
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University is featuring students, alumni, professors, and employees. For more stories, please have a look at www.jacobs-university.de/faces