Meet Terrier Motorsport’s President, Anna Saad

On a sweltering September day in 2016, Anna Saad was making her way around Boston University’s biggest club recruitment event, Splash, on Nickerson field. Like most freshmen, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to get involved in. There was a plethora of academic organizations, sororities, and sports teams to join. However, amongst the chaos of flyers and free merch, something caught her eye—a car, about nine feet long, designed for a single driver. This car’s name is “Stella," and it was this moment when Saad realized what she wanted to do.

Terrier Motorsport (known as BU Racing at the time) is a Formula Hybrid team that started back in 2015. The goal of the club is to design and fabricate an electric vehicle from scratch to compete against other students in static and dynamic events. The competition is meant to simulate a real-life engineering firm to prepare members for industry, enabling students to run the team like a business by forming their own budgets and coming up with timelines for build cycles.

Seeing the car at Splash was the perfect display of how this club produces a physical product, something that’s tangible and can even be driven. Contrary to abstract concepts taught in lectures, members of this club are able to see their engineering skills applied in real time. It was this reason Saad chose to join Terrier Motorsport.

Saad, who had grown up in the capital of Saudi Arabia, definitely knew she wanted to major in mechanical engineering. However, given the broad spectrum of its career field, she wanted to narrow down her options. Terrier Motorsport gave her the freedom to explore and discover what interested her; there were no bounds for what students wanted to achieve in the club.

Saad believes that members are given the freedom to take the initiative for what interests them. She’s a prime example of this belief, having formed an aerodynamics subteam in her junior year. A quote she likes to tell new recruits is as follows: “You don’t need aero to drive—you need it to win.”

Now a senior, Saad has new responsibilities as president and with her senior design project. Being president exposed Saad to the logistics required to run a club; her main role was ensuring the team could function as an entity independent of the people actually staffing it. One of her strategies to this responsibility was to use thorough documentation practices, as too often members would graduate and leave, in turn taking their knowledge and experiences with them.

Her senior design project revolved around the aerodynamics of Stella. She had just been at the stage where they would have manufactured parts out of carbon fiber; however, due to the current circumstances, her group is now developing software to simulate lap times for the car.

As a part of the 2020 graduating class, Saad is also facing the same issue of having graduation canceled. In addition, this year was her last year in the team; she had plans for Stella to be rules compliant at competition for the first time in the existence of the team. Unfortunately, competition was canceled, given how the tasks are all hands-on and it would be near impossible for teams to complete their cars.

Though she herself will no longer be able to experience driving at competition, she recognizes how the club is bigger than herself. Going back to her duties as president, Saad understands how goals don’t occur overnight. It’s bittersweet, but while she won’t be able to see it in her year, she laid a strong foundation to set the team up for success in the future.

When Boston University closed campus—coincidentally, within the same week the cancellation of competition was officially announced—effectively halting work on the car due to a lack of access to the workspace, Saad gave words of advice to the disappointed team.

“A valuable skill for any person, but especially engineers, is resourcefulness. Being away from campus can obviously make it more difficult to finish one car and design and build a new one, [but] it is by no means an insurmountable obstacle. Instead, this is a great opportunity to challenge ourselves to be resourceful, creative, disciplined, and motivated. I truly believe that with the right mindset and good communication, we can realistically achieve the majority of the goals we set for ourselves at the start of the year.”

Meeting remotely, the team has shifted trajectory from working on Stella to designing their second car, named “Scarlett."


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