Elon Musk's SpaceX hires 14-year-old whizz kid as a software engineer at Starlink

Kairan Quazi will start work this month but has had his LinkedIn account deactivated on the grounds that he is too young

Kairan Quazi graduated from university eight years ahead of time. Photo: MediaNews Group RM
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SpaceX, the aerospace exploration company of Elon Musk, has hired a 14-year-old whizz kid to work as a software engineer at its Starlink satellite internet team.

Kairan Quazi, who skipped elementary school and graduated with an engineering degree from Santa Clara University in California this week, will be starting his new role this month, he wrote in a LinkedIn post. He is the university's second youngest graduate.

Born to Bangladeshi parents in California, Kairan will be working in Washington state for a year before transferring to Starlink's base in Mountain View, California.

“I will be joining the coolest company on the planet as a software engineer on the Starlink engineering team,” Kairan said.

“One of the rare companies that did not use my age as an arbitrary and outdated proxy for maturity and ability.”

However, LinkedIn has deleted his account due to a minimum age requirement for users to be at least 16 years old.

The Microsoft-owned company also cancelled his premium subscription but will welcome him back once he hits the minimum age requirement, it said in response to a message from Kairan, which he posted on his Instagram account.

Kairan questioned the decision on Twitter.

“This is the illogical, primitive nonsense that I face constantly,” he said.

“I can be qualified enough to land one of the most coveted engineering jobs in the world but not qualified enough to have access to a professional social media platform that's critical to my career path?”

It is unclear if Mr Musk had a direct hand in the hiring of Kairan. The billionaire recently hired former NBCUniversal advertising head Linda Yaccarino as chief executive of Twitter.

SpaceX did not return an email seeking comment from The National as it was sent outside business hours.

Mr Musk, who is also chief executive of Twitter, has not commented on the hire.

While deemed very young to be working professionally, Kairan is in fact eligible for such employment.

The US Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA), as a general rule, sets 14 years as the minimum age requirement for employment, according to the Department of Labour.

The act limits the number of hours worked by minors under the age of 16, and also prohibits them from working in hazardous conditions. The FLSA also has specific requirements for the types of jobs they can do.

Each US state has its own laws on the employment of minors. In California, where SpaceX is based, state law requires minors under 18 to have a permit to work while employers must possess a valid “Permit to Employ and Work” before hiring a minor, according to California's Department of Industrial Relations.

Kairan will also be protected by state labour laws during his stint in Washington.

“If state law and the FLSA overlap, the law which is more protective of the minor will apply,” the department said.

Kairan was reported to have an IQ above the 99.9th percentile when he was 10 years old, which is equivalent to an IQ score of 145 or above and is considered to be “exceptionally to profoundly gifted”.

He had been taking up advanced subjects, including calculus, statistics and psychology, at the time, according to short documentary channel 60 Second Docs.

He also tutored fellow students in other subjects, including trigonometry and computer programming, and graduated from university eight years ahead of time.

Starlink is building the world's biggest satellite system, which aims to provide an internet connection even in the most remote areas of the world.

The company uses satellites in low-Earth orbit, the largest constellation of satellites at such an altitude, to provide download speeds between 100 megabits per second and 200Mbps, with a latency as low as 20 milliseconds in most locations, according to its website.

Updated: June 16, 2023, 5:06 PM