Model, social activist, dancer, engineer and a mom, Munjarin Mahbub Abony is here to break quite a few stereotypes for women. Juggling between so many different roles ain’t no walk in the park, but Abony does it with passion and perseverance while cradling an infant in her arm. “Multitasking is tough, however, I like working hard as it keeps me motivated,” she states.
Modelling since a first-year student, Abony has been thoroughly passionate about her profession; however, she chucked out the idea of being ‘just a pretty face’. “I watch international celebrities and how they use their position to add value to society. It is nice seeing figures like Emma Watson, Dua Lipa or even Priyanka Chopra giving back to communities,” she admires.
Abony reveals that for her, social activism isn’t just about sponsors. “I’d like to personally be part of social activities, whenever I get the time. In fact, I went to Rangpur during the floods to support the victims there to provide emergency relief,” she shares. Her consistent involvement has earned her the title of Director for Astha Foundation, a charity organisation which seeks to serve underprivileged children with food and education as well as providing healthcare and housing facilities for the elderly.
Among other contributions to society, Abony has recently started her very own dance school named Abony’s. “I’ve previously taught in schools for children with special needs, or those with Down’s Syndrome. Keeping that in mind, I decided to start my own, with a project that particularly serves children with disabilities for free. While the school caters to able-bodied children adults, this particular project allows special needs children to learn and develop their communication skills with others,” she explains.
‘Shooting for the skies and landing among the stars’ is a saying that resonates with the ambitious Abony. While still a final year engineering student at Ahsanullah University, she always aspired to do something uncommon. Particularly something innovating that would put Bangladesh on the map.
“Upon seeing the website for Formula Student UK (FSUK) 2019, our team of 20 engineers applied for the competition and started building a car; and that was the birth of Team Primus from Bangladesh,” says a proud Abony. Gathering resources straight from Dholaikhal, she along with her team started prepping the body of the car at their university’s garage from AM-PM.
In the midst of studying for semester finals and taking care of a baby, it was cumbersome to pull it off as Abony was the only female engineer. But with a dedicated team and an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ attitude, they were able to build a car from scratch.
“We did come across a few speed bumps along the way, particularly with the engine, as it was difficult to source a 600cc engine in our country. Hence, we had it brought from overseas and inserted into our car. We were over the moon knowing that we were the first team from Bangladesh to build a formula car,” she recalls.
Upon assembling the car, their team flew to the UK to participate in the FSUK 19, which was held from 19th-21st July. “We received two awards for the event, one was for Best Newcomer Award and another was Spirit of Formula Award. Not only did we get a positive reception, but we also outshined competing countries like India, who despite entering the competition yearly, didn’t receive awards this year,” she exclaims.
FSUK 19 was indeed a remarkable moment for Abony and her team. As engineers, they’ve taken away a number of experiences.
IN ORDER TO REMAIN AS ENGINEERS, THERE’S A NECESSITY TO CREATE PLATFORMS SUCH AS FORMULA STUDENT; THIS WILL MOTIVATE STUDENTS TO BUILD CARS AND PURSUE ENGINEERING FURTHER,”
“The event made us realise how we could’ve done things differently. Our car weighed too much and we had four cylinders, whereas we could’ve used one or two. Additionally, the engine we used was 600cc, something found on a sports bike; we could have easily inserted a 350cc one. We competed against academic giants such as Harvard, MIT as well as Oxford University and it was truly a learning experience for us,” says a humbled Abony.
Looking back at her journey with FSUK 19, Abony feels like an event of this nature is necessary for the Bangladeshi scene, as this will allow other local engineers to send a top-notch car abroad. “We were final year students while building the car, now that we’ve graduated we’ve handed it over to our juniors because FSUK is something only university students can be a part of,” she says.
Post FSUK 19, Abony dreams of a time where our country will witness something like Formula Student Bangladesh. “After attending this event, I feel like a local event like this would help competing students to work on their shortcomings before presenting the final product. Living in the day and age of AI or EB, something like Formula Student Bangladesh will open up career opportunities for those studying mechanical engineering,” she highlights.
Abony observes how often, students of engineering seek professions outside their academic background. “Currently there are many in the job market, who are working in fields such as sales, despite holding a degree in mechanical engineering. In order to remain as engineers, there’s a necessity to create platforms such as Formula Student; this will motivate students to build cars and pursue engineering further,” she wraps up.
On top of an exhilarating experience at FSUK 19, the spontaneous Abony also bagged the crown for Mrs. Bangladesh 2019 in September.