Home > The Track > Student Spotlights > Advice to Competitors

Advice to Competitors

2009 Dragster Design winner Ahmad Hares has a favorite quote from legendary innovator Steve Jobs: “The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”

“So I would encourage all the members of TSA to challenge the status quo, to think differently, and to believe that they can impact and they can contribute to whatever their goal is,” Ahmad added to Jobs’ words.

For those who competed and didn’t achieve their goals, the engineer suggests trying again and looking at the bigger picture.

“There’s always next year, and you can come back at it much stronger. Look at other projects; talk to people. The way I learned a lot of things was by talking to people at the national level. That’s what helped me build the next year’s car that was able to take first,” he said. “Focus on what you’ve gained from the competition, not necessarily what the outcome is. And if you have another chance at it, go for it.”

Though not winning can be disappointing, he says not to get discouraged.

“Doing anything in TSA, you’re going to be leaps and bounds above most people . . . . Don’t get down and throw away your positive momentum.”

“A lot of the kids that are going to make it to Nationals, for instance, they’re all great, they all are doing really good work, they’re all trying their hardest,” Ahmad said. “So when you don’t win, it’s a big bummer.

“The thing is to not let that get you down. Don’t say, ‘I can’t do anything’ or ‘I tried my hardest and I didn’t get it.’ Just keep going. Look for the silver lining, and you’ll realize it was the people you were working with and the things that you learned along the way that are actually the valuable skills that you learned.

“Doing anything in TSA, you’re going to be leaps and bounds above most people because most engineers have never turned a wrench or sanded a piece of wood. Don’t get down and throw away your positive momentum.”

Then the TSA winner added some surprising words:

“I don’t think getting first place means that much. OK, you got first place and that’s great, but nobody is ever going to recognize you ‘Hey, that’s the guy who got first place.’ They’re just going to see that you do have skills or you don’t have skills. They’re going to recognize that you can do these things with confidence because you’ve done them before.”