Nursultan Turdakyn

Specialization: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Recipient of the Yessenov Scholarship.

Nursultan, 23, is from Almaty. He graduated from Nazarbayev University last year and at the moment he is a first year PhD student at Iowa State University. In 2021, he won the scholarship in the competition of the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation.

How and why did you choose this specialty?
I had a passion for building and assembling things from my early childhood. As I remember, Lego was my favorite toy that definitely helped to sharpen my creative thinking. Also during my school years physics, algebra and geometry were the subjects that I really enjoyed. After I graduated from the National Physics and Mathematics School it was clear that I should continue elaborating my engineering skills, especially mechanical engineering which combines almost all my interests.

How did you find out about the scholarship, how did you decide to participate and what did you remember most from the competition for the Yessenov scholarship?
I heard about Yessenov Scholarship from info session held at the university during my freshman year. I started my research journey when I just started my second year. Since one of the goals of the Scholarship was to support youth who were interested in science, I decided to apply. And I was sure I had a good chance of winning. The interview that was held online was the thing that I remembered the most. Honestly, I was quite nervous during the interview.

What should an applicant know in order to win? Why do you think you won?
I think that applicant should have other commitments other than studies. For instance, working in the lab and publishing research papers definitely distinguish the candidate. Also, having a clear vision of your future self and career goals is important to show that scholarship will be used for specific purposes such as taking an exam or obtaining a certificate. In my opinion, my GPA, research experience and knowing what I am doing with my life were defining factors for me being selected as a recipient of the Yessenov Scholarship. I would also add that studying languages (not to mention English) is must, as most of the winners speak more than 3 languages.

Nursultan, what do you do now and what are your plans for the next couple of years?
I entered a PhD program in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. Now I take courses that I need the most for my thesis. Apparently, my plan for the next few years is to study hard and work in the lab to present my doctoral thesis on time. I also have a non-academic or non-career goal. It is to train to do Half Ironman.

What are your interests, how do you like to spend your free time, what are your hobbies?
For the last four years I’ve been using my free time to study German. Also, I like reading fiction. During my undergrad I learned some programming when I was free, mobile development in particular. Additionally, I am trying to be consistent with my swimming practices. Obviously, now I have less free time because of my studies, but I will do my best to enjoy some time outside of classes and lab. However, I usually spend my time in doing something useful or enjoyable, but there are days when I just surf on the Internet for hours.

Please name three of the most vivid memories in your whole life?
I will tell you about just one memorable moment of this year, when I failed the interview for DAAD scholarship to study in Germany. I was telling everyone that I am going to do Master’s in Germany for years, and being rejected was pretty hard for my mental health. Imagine that I was waiting for the results for month being anxious, and not getting the desired outcome made me sad, to say the least. But somehow, I succeeded in getting admitted for fully funded PhD program in the US. What happened taught me that if you could not get what you wanted for years, you will possibly get something much better later: three months in my case. As long as you are persevering in doing something and open minded, life gives you better opportunities.

13.02.23, Stories, Newsfeed

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