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Author's profile photo Paul Baur

Finding Balance on a Bamboo Bicycle

Fazlul Hoque balances the virtual nature of his job with the construction of eco-friendly bicycles. Now he is sharing his newfound passion with others.

Assuming you are passionate about what you studied, you have a cool career happening around you, and you love your employer too, then you should be completely content and fulfilled, right?

On paper it sounds like a great formula, and it might work for some. But Fazlul Hoque, who has all of those things and more, looked inside himself and discovered that something was still missing. Being the perceptive guy he is, Fazlul set out to balance his own equation.

Fazlul has always liked building things, and as an interaction designer at SAP’s research and development lab in Germany, he works in a multidisciplinary team that designs and builds the user interfaces for SAP’s newest applications.

His task is to mask the fundamental complexity of business software witha simple interface design that delights end users. And that’s easier said than done. “In the age of information overload, it is the job of the designer to lead the way and hold the hand of the user. Simplicity is the only way to accomplish that,” says Fazlul.

He and his colleagues are currently working in one of industry’s hottest areas: the Internet of Things, and on applications that help companies to analyze sensor data in order to predict machine failures thus optimizing maintenance cycles and reducing machine downtime.

Back to the “roots”

“As an interaction designer I am working a lot with design concepts, but most of them are digital,” explains Fazlul. “What was missing for me was building something that I could touch and feel.” That’s when he began to look for a project in his free time that would combine his passions for design, construction, sustainability, and practicality. Bamboo bicycles were the perfect fit.

For thousands of years this incredibly fast growing, versatile, light, and eco-friendly material has been used to build objects that can withstand major loads. As a boy growing up in Bangladesh, Fazlul experienced first-hand how bamboo is used in the construction of furniture, houses, boats, and even bridges.

“I wanted to build is something with my hands that I can use in my daily life, but I didn’t want to build just a normal bike,” Fazlul explains. “It had to have a unique aspect to it, and the bamboo bike fits all of my criteria.” Knowing that he would need support on his first bike, he searched and found an impassioned bike enthusiast and entrepreneur in Berlin who ran workshops in bamboo bicycle construction.

Fazlul travelled to Berlin on weekends to complete his bike, which was built in clearly defined stages. “My favorite part was working with my hands and learning about new materials and new techniques. It’s a very explorative process and you can use this skill in any job.”

Completing the bike is one of the things that Fazlul is most proud of, and a self-made bike also translates into a lot of fun: “Riding a bicycle is a joy for everybody, but if you ride something that you built yourself then it exponentially increases that joy.”

He found the experience so worthwhile that he wants to share it with others. The interaction designer and another colleague at SAP formed a group that are learning the technique of building the eco-friendly vehicles, even electric-powered ones. Visitors to SAP in Walldorf, Germany, can therefore expect to see more bamboo bikes around the campus soon.

Video: Natalie Hauck and Alex Januschke, SAP Development University; Text: Paul Baur, Global Corporate Affairs Content Team.

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