Alumni profile - Nadiur Rahman
Climate change is an issue close to my heart and I believe we as humans are responsible for sustainable living to safeguard future generations. At Carnot Ltd, I believe we have found a new method of sustainably producing energy capable of meeting the growing demands of the human race.
(Mechanical Engineering with Industrial Experience MEng, 2018)
Why did you study Mechanical Engineering at Queen Mary? Did you have a particular career path in mind?
Creating and building has been in my nature since my early days as a school kid. Falling in love with BBC programmes such as ‘Robot Wars’ and ‘Top Gear’ provided the spark. Later in my life, curiosity and eagerness to learn and understand how the world around me was able to function became the core driving force. This, coupled with my love of cars at a young age, inevitably led me to actively pursue sciences and maths after leaving school.
What did you enjoy most about studying Mechanical Engineering at Queen Mary?
I really enjoyed what I call the applied modules: engineering design and management, design for manufacture. I refer to these as the applied modules because it was a chance for us to apply the hardcore technical knowledge we learned in the heat transfer, fluids, and maths modules, to the real world.
Also, during my time at SEMS, the facilities underwent a big change and had improved significantly. I was one of the fortunate few with the privilege of working in the Advanced Robotics Lab for my MEng project. The practical workshop space had also improved which gave us the opportunity to produce parts on a lathe, CNC, and 3D printer.
Can you describe your career path up to date and touch on your current role as Co-Founder and Director of Carnot Ltd?
I was privileged to have spent a year in industry at 3M between my third and fourth year. I came back to finish the rest of the MEng programme and I then joined a start-up 5 days after my final exam back in 2018. This start-up was developing a high efficiency engine but in a different way; I spent 18 months here and it really allowed me to experience the other end of the spectrum. I’d seen and experienced life as an engineer at a large multinational corporation such as 3M with their unlimited resources, so to then work for a start-up where the engineering team was small, furthered my education as I was often covering multiple functions at once and I was given more responsibility.
What were the motivations behind founding Carnot Ltd and what do you think makes Carnot Ltd stand out from its competitors?
Climate change is an issue close to my heart and I believe we as humans are responsible for sustainable living to safeguard future generations. There aren’t any silver bullet solutions on the table, however, there are things we as humans can do to change or adapt our current lifestyles. We came up with the idea to fundamentally rethink the way combustion engines work to significantly reduce their fuel consumptions. The archaic technology currently used to power the bulk of our energy requirements for transport and electricity is simply an extension of the technology used in the 1800s and this is not acceptable in the 21st century. I believe we have found a new method of sustainably producing energy capable of meeting the growing demands of the human race.
We feel there are a few different things which make us stand out from our competitors but one of the biggest is our company culture. We’ve each learnt from our past experiences and have seen first-hand the things that don’t work but also the things that work really well. We’ve tried to combine all of the positive aspects and created a working environment which we feel allows everyone to excel and fulfil their potential. One of the most important parts of our ethos is to be comfortable to challenge the status quo and to ask questions about how/why things are the way they are.
The assignments and project work throughout the course for each of the modules requires critical thinking, creativity, an analytical approach, teamwork and collaboration. I use all of this on a daily basis.
Since its launch in 2019, what stage is Carnot Ltd at and where would you like it to be in five years’ time?
We raised approximately £650,000 in our first year through a combination of innovate UK grants, accelerator programs and crowdfunding. We've grown to a team of 8, filed our first patent application, and we're building our proof-of-concept prototype. In 5 years’ time we would like to be in a position where we are licencing our technology and we are seeing our technology used in products on a large scale. Ultimately, we feel our technology will play a part in the fight against climate change and we are determined to roll-out our technology in the shortest timeframes possible.
What are your career plans for the future?
At the moment I wear multiple hats at Carnot. I am the acting Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), but first and foremost I lead the physical modelling and design. As an engineer, this is my natural habitat and it still remains an aspiration of mine to become a chartered engineer as I feel like there is unfinished business there. However, I have also thoroughly enjoyed actively playing my part in the day-to-day running of the company and participating in the growth of the business.
What have been some of the challenges and rewards of co-founding and directing your own company?
The main challenges have been navigating our way through uncharted waters. Neither of us have any experience of starting or running a company, however, we have been fortunate to call upon the experiences around us as we’ve built a very capable support team of advisors and non-executive directors. We’ve applied a lot of the skills we’ve gained as engineers and used them in our approach to operating the business, such as utilising systems thinking and an analytical process to inform decisions.
How did your degree prepare you for your current job?
Studying Mechanical Engineering gives you the ability and the necessary skillset to seek critical information and find answers to questions which ultimately inform your decision process. The assignments and project work throughout the course for each of the modules requires critical thinking, creativity, an analytical approach, teamwork and collaboration. I use all of this on a daily basis. Students often focus on the granularity behind the engineering course itself but fail to spot the bigger picture. For example, in the third year of the course, we were tasked with conducting a yearlong project and we effectively became experts in a particular topic of our choice. The purpose of the project was not to learn and regurgitate everything there is to know about the field, but to gain the fundamental skills behind conducting the project in the first place.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options?
I am and will always be a strong advocate for pursuing a career in STEM, but I would strongly urge current students and recent graduates to remain open-minded! Don’t be afraid to try something different to what you’re used to and seize opportunities when they arise. A degree in STEM from a Russell Group university will open a few different doors and the temptations for high salaried positions may present themselves but it’s important to do something which you enjoy as you will be spending the majority of your waking hours doing it! Life is too short to be spending your afternoons staring at the time…
As part of Queen Mary Formula Student, operating within specific guidelines and design envelopes using state-of-the-art tools provided me with a fundamental engineering skillset and an insight into pursuing engineering as a career.
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying Mechanical Engineering and Queen Mary?
As someone who has been through the experience, I think it definitely helps to study a subject you enjoy. The enjoyment factor is one of the main driving forces which helps you get through difficult situations such as the all-nighters and tough Saturday afternoons of completing the multiple assignments that are due the following week.
Finally, what was special about your time at Queen Mary?
Being a part Queen Mary Formula Student. I joined in the first month of my first year at Queen Mary. I have been a fan of motorsport from a young age and the exciting prospect of designing and building a single seater to then race against other universities was an obvious choice for me to spend my extracurricular time. Competition was fierce and I initially joined the operations team and worked on producing the business development material and website before I transitioned to the drivetrain team in my second and third year. This was a chance to immerse myself in a real-world engineering environment with clear expectations, deadlines, and accountability. Operating within specific guidelines and design envelopes using state-of-the-art tools provided me with a fundamental engineering skillset and an insight into pursuing engineering as a career.
This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Officer, Nicole Brownfield. If you would like to get in touch with Nadiur or engage him in your work, please contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.