Throughout his life, Durmus Caliskan, one of Turkey’s most successful engineers and the inspiration for our company, dreamed of a Turkey that contributed to the common heritage of humanity in the fields of science, technology, art, and culture. His professional work and perseverance contributed greatly to Turkey’s development and to the rise of engineering as a source of inspiration to young people. Durmus Caliskan’s top priority was education, and he always strived to push the people around him to get a good education and to develop themselves. He dreamed of a society based on mutual understanding and tolerance. He dreamed of a Turkey where people used their creativity to contribute to the future of the world in a free-thinking scientific and cultural environment, and he worked tirelessly to make his dream a reality. The Durmus Caliskan Foundation continues to work to realize the dream of this great engineer.
A Life Dedicated to His Country and Humanity
Durmus Caliskan was born in 1950 in the village of Paynik (Erikdibi) in the Turkish province of Bayburt. After his outstanding success in primary school caught the attention of his teacher, he moved to Istanbul with his family to pursue his secondary education. Because of his interest in engineering, he studied technical painting at the Sultanahmet Art School. After high school, he entered the mechanical engineering department of Yildiz Technical University with top marks. Durmus Caliskan developed and manufactured machines throughout his professional life. He was one of the first to bring important industrial equipment, including shipyard machines, cranes, and marble-cutting machines, to Turkey, and did so using his own original designs. Throughout his life, he was closely involved with the community and supported it by encouraging many people to pursue an education. From his retirement from business life in 1998 until his death in 2018, he devoted himself to social activities, youth education, and especially his work on Jazari.
A Modern Jazari
Durmus Caliskan was the foremost scholar of Ismail al-Jazari, the chief engineer of the Artuqid state in the 1200s, and his great work, The Book of Knowledge. Prior to Caliskan’s work on Jazari, only a few of the great engineer’s machines had been examined; and even then, they were largely misunderstood. Caliskan, thinking just as Jazari would have, deciphered all of Jazari’s machines and drew up modern projects so that they could be reproduced today according to the same mechanical principles Jazari used. The engineer Atilla Bir, a famous historian of science, described Caliskan as a “modern Jazari.” This is because while working to unravel Jazari’s machines, Caliskan would practically enter Jazari’s mind; he would even dream about him. Jazari was a great inspiration for Durmus Caliskan in his work to instill both self-confidence and a solid educational foundation in young minds in the fields of engineering and mechanics; and through this work, Caliskan helped carry Jazari’s colorful world to the present day.
The Durmus Caliskan Foundation Supports Education
Based on the importance that Durmus Caliskan attached to young people’s education, we established the Durmus Caliskan Foundation to keep his memory alive and share the inspiration we received from him with society. Our foundation supports education in order to promote Turkey’s scientific advancement through the principles of science and rationality that Durmus Caliskan so esteemed. We offer merit scholarships to idealistic high-school, undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students to help nurture the “Jazaris” of the future and to encourage them to persevere in their work. Another branch of the Durmus Caliskan Foundation’s support in the field of education is its library support. The foundation ensures that schools, student dormitories, and libraries in Turkey that have difficulty creating a library collection are provided the books they need.
Istanbul Jazari Museum Civil Engineer
It’s hard to be a good engineer in a country where there’s no quality education. Engineers are the foundation of society and the social order; they are its mathematics, its data, its tests, its dynamics. It was my great privilege to have had the chance to known such a rare engineer, a man who managed to learn what had not yet been taught, to complete what had been left incomplete, and to pass that knowledge on to future generations. It is with a deep sadness for all our unfinished, incomplete conversations that I bid him a respectful goodbye.