SpaceX has just hired a teenager to join its Starlink team. Kairan Quazi, a 14-year-old Bangladeshi-American from Pleasanton, California and a graduating senior at Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering, will be the youngest software engineer at the Elon Musk-led rocket company.
“I will be joining the coolest company on the planet as a software engineer on the Starlink engineering team. One of the rare companies that did not use my age as an arbitrary and outdated proxy for maturity and ability,” Quazi announced in a LinkedIn post on June 9.
Quazi is currently preparing for graduation. Upon obtaining his bachelor’s degree, the teen plans to relocate from California to Redmond, Washington with his mother, Julia, to begin his new role at SpaceX.
14-Year-Old Kairan Quazi is smarter than 99.9% of us
Quazi was identified as a “profoundly gifted” kid with an IQ above the 99.9th percentile of the general population, according to Mercury News. His mother said he displayed extraordinary talent from a very early age. He was obsessed with listening to NPR at just a few months old and was speaking in full sentences by age two.
In his early years, Quazi impressed his teachers and classmates with his knowledge of current events. On his first day at preschool, which he started at the age of two, Quazi declared that school was boring and organized a protest in his classroom to chant for democracy in Egypt because he’d heard about the Arab Spring uprising. When he was five, Quazi made children in his kindergarten class cry when he told them that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was wielding chemical weapons.
At the age of nine, Quazi left elementary school behind to enroll in Las Positas College, a community college in Livermore, California. Two years later, he transferred to Santa Clara University to study engineering.
During college, Quazi secured two internships: one at Intel Labs as an A.I. research fellow and the other at Blackbird.AI, an A.I. startup in New York, where he was a machine learning intern, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“I think my college years have been the happiest years of my life, because I had a lot of autonomy, really, to share my journey,” Quazi told the Los Angeles Times on June 9.
Outside school, Quazi enjoys playing video games, including the historical fiction series “Assassin’s Creed,” and reading science fiction and about current events.
Proof that Elon Musk values skills over degree or age
In Washington State, where Quazi will be employed, the minimum legal age to work is 14. Employers don’t need a special permit to hire teens older than 14 but are subject to state minor work restrictions.
Musk has famously said a college degree is not required to work at his companies. Instead, he values “a super hardcore work ethic, talent for building things, common sense and trustworthiness,” Musk said in a 2020 tweet about a SpaceX hiring event.
“The rest we can train,” he wrote. “Don’t care if you even graduated high school.”
The software engineering position Quazi will fill requires a bachelor’s degree in STEM fields or two years of equivalent experience in software development, according to SpaceX’s jobs page. The candidate must also be willing to work extended hours and weekends as needed—something that may present a challenge for the teen.
Quazi will be responsible for developing software systems for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-based internet network, creating prototypes and collaborating with other engineers. For that, he’ll earn between $120,000 and $170,000, according to SpaceX.