Under 30 and Rising: ‘The Choices We Make Determine Who We Are’
From karate to coding for a Kickstarter-funded video game, Asena Aksayim has always taken on challenges. She’s still doing so as a Senior Software Engineer with GE Aviation, where she’s creating algorithms to help design advanced aircraft engines.
She started down this path at age seven, when she began taking karate classes. At first, she was regularly defeated. “But after practice and learning my strengths, I won many gold medals. That helped me to not fear failure and inspired me not give up and to be an achiever.”
She believes this approach has helped her in the years that followed. “Failure teaches me a lot. I do not ignore failure, but rather focus on the reasons for them and take lessons from them. I believe that if you don’t fail, you don’t succeed and learn. Failure is a key aspect of success, so I’m not afraid of failure.”
She maintained this attitude after earning her Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and Master’s degree in game design, especially after finding that there weren’t many options in her field in Turkey when she graduated seven years ago. So, she worked at several startups, taking on different roles as required, including designer, analyst, and developer, “anywhere that was needed. I had to learn a lot of things [about those different roles] by myself and took on the whole responsibility. This was my first big challenge. I learned a lot.”
At one of those jobs, she worked for a company that had launched a Kickstarter campaign for a game still under development. At the last minute it was decided that a playable demo of the game, instead of a video trailer, was required. “I completed the demo, which had to include the most important mechanics of the game, in one month, and I was the only developer. It was a difficult and risky choice, but at the same time, it was an amazing experience.”
Today she develops graphical user interfaces and visualization features, including 3D graphics, that go into aircraft engine design software. Engineers then use this software to model and simulate their systems.
“I love the challenges in my job, and the technologies I’m working with. My job is always pushing me to solve problems and produce solutions with my algorithms. This is very satisfying. The impact of my work also makes me proud, because it makes the job of the mechanical engineers easier and lets them be more efficient with their time.”
It’s no surprise then that Asena’s motto is: “We are our choices. The choices we make determine who we are.”