Portrait of Nader Ahmed

Nader Ahmed, an NYU Tandon School of Engineering alumni who graduated in 2019, had his big idea in high school. “I went to Aviation High School, and one of the things we learned was how electric motors work,” says Nader. As the teacher taught the class about airplane motors, he identified what he felt was a flaw in their design. “I thought, ‘Why are they accepting that the design has an inherent flaw?’” says Nader. “Why not just design a new motor without the flaw?”


Students conducting engineering research in NYU Tandon’s MakerSpace.
A student working on an engineering research project in Tandon’s MakerSpace.

The Power of NYU

Nader arrived at NYU Tandon with a sketch of his new motor. Then, he joined the Tandon MakerSpace, which offered the equipment and expertise he needed to create his first prototype. As his vision continued to grow, he realized his motor would need even more power to run.

For this reason, he reached out to NYU Tandon professor Francisco de Leon, whose Power Lab offered the resources and collaboration Nader needed. “The first day I met him and told him about my design, he stayed for hours to talk to me,” says Nader. Professor de Leon also told him to come back the next day. Soon, he was offering Nader his advice and resources.

But this Tandon alumni didn’t just want to design a motor. He also wanted to build a business. To bring Merciless Motors to life, Nader called on help from across NYU. A prototyping fund from NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute paid for building materials. Meanwhile, the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge taught him how to create and market his business through a series of workshops, bootcamps, and coaching sessions that ran for an entire academic year. Next, the Summer Launchpad at the Leslie eLab offered one-on-one attention for student start-ups, advising on customer discovery patterns, and the ins and outs of patent law.

The Road Ahead

As a recent Tandon alumni, Nader has the skills and experience he needs to launch Merciless Motors, but he is still working on the final design. But with his background in motors and engineering, he landed a job as a technician at Tesla, the company best known for its electric cars. While his own working prototype hasn’t been finalized, he is continuing to build the skills and learn even more broadly in the field. And he believes wholeheartedly in making his motor a reality. “Back in high school, I had this one concept from this one little sketch,” says Nader. “From this fundamental principle, we were able to make nine or 10 designs. If I had gone to any other school, I wouldn’t have gotten this far or even pursued my idea.”