Syud Momtaz Ahmed portrays an image of success that every Bangladeshi youth dreams of achieving. At the age of 29, he is a Senior Scientist at 3M, a renowned multinational conglomerate corporation based in St. Paul Minnesota, USA. Like many of us, Momtaz began his academic career right here in Dhaka. He completed his O'Levels at Sunbeams School and A'Levels from MasterMind School.
“My original plan was to study medicine in Bangladesh and maybe leave for a higher degree later,” he tells us, “But after my O' Levels, there was a huge push from my parents, to apply for colleges in the United States. I got admitted to a small liberal arts school named Wabash College in Indiana with a full scholarship.”
Once he got to college, he focused on majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics. “It was in college that I started doing a lot of research based on molecular modeling and developing nanoparticles for potential medical applications with my college research advisors,” he says. “I was quite fascinated with the general concept of scientific research and wanted to pursue it further.” In 2006, he had attained a fellowship that enabled him to work for Robert Hamers, a renowned professor in the world of nano, colloid and surface chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
After an excellent research experience there, he decided to pursue a post graduate degree in Chemistry. “I believe I had a good understanding with Chemistry,” he tells us, “Chemistry gave me that ability to build – build intricate and, in some cases, extremely complicated structures on a molecular level using basic building blocks.”
Momtaz was admitted to the Ph.D. program at Cornell University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in 2007. “The next five years of my life were spent conducting cutting edge research in the fields of materials, organic, organometallic and polymer chemistry,” he says.
After defending his thesis in 2012, he joined 3M as a Senior Scientist to develop new technologies and products related to their Safety and Graphics Business. His role is to facilitate the development of new technologies and new products related to the Safety and Graphics business. “It is an exciting role that not only allows me to do research, but also allows me to channel the research to develop business relevant technologies or products,” he says. “The role also enables me to interact with customers, different business functions such as marketing, and sales and also with manufacturing engineers.”
When people think about 3M, the first things that come to mind are Post-its or Scotchtape, “Actually 3M is involved in a lot more than that as a tech company, and is considered one of the most innovative companies – it's in your phone, on your car, in your passports, and even in dental fillings.”
Despite his hectic academic schedule, Momtaz still finds time for his music, “My interest in music was passed on to me by my mother. I started learning tabla when I was 8 years old, and used to accompany her now and then when she sang on TV or the radio,” he remembers. When in Bangladesh, he was also a part of bands such as Ajob and Made in Bangladesh, a band formed by his close friends.
“In 2008, I heard about and got a spot in a workshop being hosted by Ustad Zakir Hussain in San Francisco. It was without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life,” he remembers. “I was rusty, but could appreciate and pick up a lot of the classical kaydas that he taught us.” Momtaz continues to hone his skills with the tabla in his spare-time.
Having achieved the success most people only dream about at such a young age, Momtaz offers advice to our current generation, “Have a doable 'to-do' list,” he says, “Be respectful, be a team player, be passionate, and last but not least, work hard and play hard.”