Meet Tasnuva Tabassum ‘17

Tasnuva TabassumTasnuva Tabassum graduated from Cornell with an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2017. She utilized The Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF) to work on research funded by Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT) specializing on thin film studies with Cornell Professor Emeritus Dieter Ast and Professor Bruce van Dover. She has 2 patents with AMAT and has held various roles within the company as Process Engineer, Quality Engineer and Product Line Manager. She has also invited Professor John Hopcroft and Professor Robert Shepherd from Cornell to speak on AI, ML and Robotics in hopes of creating more research partnerships between Cornell and AMAT.  More recently, she has moved to Apple as an Operations Program Manager where her primary focus is supply chain strategies for the iPad and bringing disruptive process improvements to the qualification process.

Why did you choose Cornell?

It’s funny actually, but growing up in Bangladesh, we were exposed to a lot of American TV. One of the movies I watched as a teen was  “The Perfect Score” where a group of high school students attempted to steal SAT questions. One of the students, played by Chris Evans, wanted to study architecture in Cornell. Since I wanted to study architecture back then, that inspired me. I didn’t go into architecture or steal SAT questions, but the Cornell part of that dream came true. And of course, looking at rankings, Cornell is one of the best schools in the world for MSE.

How are things going now?

Things are good but it can always get better. If you told 15 year old me that I was working at Apple, I would have been impressed. But today, I want to do so much more than just work at a big company. It’s important to take a step back and look at how far you have come, though. The line between being ambitious and never being content is extremely fine.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

As I mentioned, I wanted to be an architect when I was younger. But slowly I realized I was great at grasping concepts in Physics, Chemistry and Math. And Materials Science Engineering was a good combination of these. It made more sense to go down that route for a better career path and opportunities. That’s the mindset I was raised with: “choose a field that gives you a better chance of success.”

What hobbies do you have in your spare time?

I am an extrovert. I love connecting with people. I don’t see people as tools but I truly believe every conversation helps me in some way or another. In that sense, I love to host game nights for my co-workers, explore different downtowns in California with friends, and cook authentic Bangladeshi food for everyone. I also have a massive sweet tooth so I love French patisserie and baking.

Do you have any advice for current Engineering students?

Your career is not a race against someone else. You will see that your competitors will always keep changing. Today it could be your classmate, tomorrow it will be a coworker. So there’s really no point in focusing on winning against a specific person. Your only constants are things you have control over- confidence and skillset. If you keep working on yourself, you will eventually get to where you need to be. 

What is next for you?

I want to eventually start my own business. Depending on the nature of my business and the market I am trying to target, I will spend the next few years trying to gather learnings in those fields.