From the days when he was told that he could not walk or speak in any way; A path to becoming Turkey’s first aerospace engineer: Turgay KARAKAŞ!Turgay Karakaş, who was born in 1974 and whose life is the main subject of this research, managed to walk and talk at the age of four thanks to the needle treatment applied, and to form a sentence normally when he was six years old, although it is said that he cannot walk or speak in any way. “I had the biggest challenge in my life to walk, and I was five and a half to six years old when I was able to walk on my own without anyone’s support,” he explained.
Turgay Karakaş has overcome many obstacles. After he was born, he was not able to walk or talk until he was four years old. Although doctors told her parents he could never walk or talk, he started walking at the age of four thanks to a needle from abroad. The biggest challenge he’s ever had in his life is walking. He was six when he was able to walk and speak for the first time without anyone’s support. His family has little hope of walking and speaking, let alone education, but he has received the greatest support from his sister throughout his education. He started primary school in the class of a teacher friend of his father. Since he was different from all his friends, it took time for him to be accepted in school life. His primary school life was filled with other children making fun of him and questioning his condition. This has made him more resilient to adversity rather than upsetting. Despite this, he learned to read before his friends and even started to solve his sister’s math questions.
He later suffered one of his greatest traumas in life during middle school because no school nearby had accepted him. People who weren’t interested in how smart he was only questioned his adaptation to social life at school. A headmaster then told him they could solve the problem and accepted him into the school. It’s a difficult situation for him because in middle school his teachers asked him different questions about his condition. He had to tell everyone again that he could overcome adversity again. As for the lesson, he didn’t have any trouble because he knew he could do anything by working. Despite this, he struggles to read properly and a teacher humiliated him for stuttering and called his parents. Among other students, his teacher said he was unable to fit in, could not read or write and should be sent to a school for the mentally disabled. Turgay Karakaş, on the other hand, was third in the middle first grade, all his lessons are very good, only the Turkish lesson is a little weak and the reason for this is the Turkish teacher. When he finished secondary school, his teachers lined up for him at the graduation ceremony and everyone applauded him for his success.
Then he started high school and continued his education as a high school winner, for firts three years. In 1991, he participated in the world physics and mathematics Olympics and, although his team did not contribute much, he made his team fourth in the world in the physics Olympics. At the same time, in the Mathematics Olympiad, his team finished third in the world because he was able to answer all the questions correctly, but his teammates could not answer correctly. Only for him, a ceremony was held at the school, and he gave the greatest lesson in public that year to his Turkish teacher, who insulted him. That day, he managed to stand up on his own, stare into the sky, and at that moment he decided to become a space engineer. When he was in the fourth grade of elementary school, when everyone was asked what profession he would have, he said he wanted to be a space engineer, and in turn the whole class laughed at him.
When he took the university exam, he became the 25th in Turkey without solving any Turkish questions. He still had the decision to become a space engineer. Ankara University’s Department of Astronomy and Space Sciences received students with a score of 490 at the time, while it entered this department with a score of 602. Similar to what he had experienced before in college, he encountered many students and teachers who did not understand him. The only question they asked him in the master’s exam at Ankara University was why he did a master’s degree. No scientific questions were asked of him.
In the third year of his university life, with the help of the signature of all departmental students, he asked the Higher Education Council to change the department he would study to astronomy and space engineering, not astronomy and space sciences. By the decision of the Higher Education Council, his request was rejected. His only dream is to become a space engineer. He took engineering courses at university to realize his dream. About 20 courses took extra engineering courses. He took courses in electrical and electronics engineering and geological engineering. He did not only astronomy and space sciences, but also a minor in physics, mathematics and computer engineering for the first time in Turkey. Although his teachers were aware that his GPA was very good, they were thinking about how he could become an academic and not teach in the classroom. Turgay Karakaş expresses his thoughts on this subject as “Whereas science is not just about teaching lessons.” He says that he thinks that their teaching is just teaching, that it does not matter to be a lecturer, that the main thing is to take science to the next level.
For four years, he taught students as a space engineer in the Department of Astronomy and Space Sciences at Ankara University. At the same time, he managed to bring space engineering to the university curriculum as an elective course. About eight years later, Turgay Karakaş became Turkey’s first aerospace engineer when he first graduated from Istanbul Technical University with a degree in aerospace engineering, while this department had no name in Turkey.
His next goal is to stay at university and progress in his field, but unfortunately he has had problems with teachers. At Ankara University he has 48 international publications at the time, which is an incredible number for a PhD student. After these publications, he was cut off from the university due to his problems with his teacher. However, he entered TUBITAK SAGE as a space engineer in 2007 through the prime minister’s office from TUBITAK to the research science of the defense industry.
The first area where he started his career is the field of computers. Instead of running Turgay Karakaş in his field, they employed him as a technician. Afterwards, he was able to express himself to people. As a result, he has worked as the number one engineer in various projects of the defense industry and continues to work.
The most interesting event of his life is that he struggled for twelve years to get a driver’s license. He could not get the medical report because there is a statement in the health law that people with cerebral palsy cannot get a driver’s license. He went to various hospitals, but could not get a report. Finally, he went to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies and stated that this law was wrong and needed to be changed, that he used a huge missile and directed it, and that he did not think that driving any car would cause much trouble. Upon his words, the phrase “People with cerebral palsy can obtain a driver’s license under the supervision of a doctor” was added to the law. He has been driving his car on the roads of Ankara for about eight years and is very successful in driving.
He also became a member of an association founded by mothers and fathers of children with cerebral palsy called SERÇEV in Ankara in 2004. He was the chairman of the board of directors of SERÇEV. During his presidency, he provided scholarships to children with disabilities in the field of education. He provided support, but did not receive any support from any foundation or organization. He is the only person with cerebral palsy who has a doctorate, got married and has a child. He expresses that it is really difficult to do what he is talking about in Turkey, and says that he always maintains and will protect his self-confidence and respect. He believes that everything starts and ends in the brain.
Unfortunately, people do not know the difference between disability and physical disability very well. People see other disabled people the way they want to see them. People act with the logic that if a person has a physical disability, he also has a mental disability. However, a person like Stephen Hawkings found the black hole and interstellar distance formula that no one could have imagined, even though no part of his body was working. Turgay Karakaş also thinks that he watched a movie about him and that his life and his life intersect. Turgay Karakaş finally adds, “At this point, the important thing is to be able to do something and show people what you have done, knowledge is always a respected thing, if you show you know, you will also receive respect, if you show your respect, it will be faster for you to hold on to this life.”