Islam Karimov was born on 30 January 1938 in Samarkand. His was a poor family. His father, an Uzbek, worked as a handyman. His mother was a Tajik. Young Karimov showed high intelligence and was able to attend the Russian high school in Samarkand. He then entered Tashkent's Central Asian Polytechnic Institute where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. From 1960 to 1966 he advanced from assistant foreman to senior engineer, first in an agricultural machinery plant and then an aviation production association in Tashkent. In 1964, Karimov joined the Communist Party and in 1966, he shifted from engineering to work in the Uzbek government as an economic specialist. From 1966 to 1983, Karimov worked in the Uzbek State Planning Committee (GOSPLAN), eventually becoming first deputy chairman. During this period he also earned a Candidate of Economic Sciences degree, roughly equivalent to a Ph.D.