Kairan Quazi will probably need someone to drive him to work at SpaceX. He’s only 14.
The teen is scheduled to graduate this month from the Santa Clara University School of Engineering before starting a job as a software engineer at the satellite communications and spacecraft manufacturer.
“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,” Kairan said in an interview Friday from his bedroom in Pleasanton, Calif.
The soft-spoken teen said working with Starlink — the satellite internet team at SpaceX — will allow him to be part of something bigger than himself. That is no small feat for someone who has accomplished so much at such a young age.
When he was 2, Kairan spoke in complete sentences. When he was in kindergarten, he recounted to his teachers and classmates news stories he’d heard on National Public Radio.
When he was 9, he felt he wasn’t being challenged by his schoolwork. His parents, teacher and pediatrician agreed that he was ready for more advanced studies. His parents had some difficulty finding a university that would accept him, but he landed at Las Positas College in Livermore, Calif.
The youngster jumped from third grade to a community college, with a workload that he felt made sense.
“I felt like I was learning at the level that I was meant to learn,” said Kairan, who later transferred to Santa Clara University.
In his downtime, Kairan enjoys playing video games, like the historical fiction series “Assassin’s Creed,” and reading the sci-fi short stories of Philip K. Dick and the work of journalist Michael Lewis, who wrote about the 2008 financial crisis that triggered the housing bubble.
He relishes telling stories about his life, because his journey has been filled with moments of trying to convince authority figures of his intellect and character.
“I think one of the things I really want to do with telling my story is hopefully have leaders in influential positions challenge their biases and misconceptions,” he said. “Hopefully, I can open the door to more people like me.”
Kairan’s family told BrainGain Magazine that when he was 9, IQ tests showed that his intelligence was in the 99.9th percentile of the general population. Asked if he’s a genius, he recalled his parents telling him, “Genius is an action ― it requires solving big problems that have a human impact.”
Once accepted to the engineering school at Santa Clara University as a transfer student, Kairan felt that he had found his freedom to pursue a career path that allowed him to solve those big problems.
While in college, Kairan and his mother made a list of places where he could apply for an internship. Only one company responded. Lama Nachman, director of the Intelligent Systems Research Lab at Intel, took a meeting with 10-year-old Kairan, who expected it to be brief and thought she would give him the customary “try again in a few years,” he said.
She accepted him.
“In a sea of so many ‘no’s’ by Silicon Valley’s most vaunted companies, that ONE leader saying yes … one door opening … changed everything,” Kairan wrote on his LinkedIn page.
This year, Kairan announced on Instagram that he was getting ready for a job interview. He posted a photo of himself in a business formal attire in front of a laptop.
A few weeks later, he followed up with a screenshot from his acceptance email at SpaceX.
He and his mother will move to Redmond, Wash., when he starts his job.
Asked what he plans to wear on his first day, Kairan joked in an email that he plans “to show up in head to toe SpaceX merch. I’ll be a walking commercial! Joking aside, I’ll probably wear jeans and a t-shirt so I can be taken seriously as an engineer.”