Fellow Profile: Tiffany Vuong

 |   Bay Area Staff

Where are you from? I was born and raised in San Jose, California.

School/grad year/major: San Jose State University/Spring 2017/Industrial and Systems Engineering

Last thing you searched on Bing: The history of the “Áo dài” (typical Vietnamese clothing for formal occasions).

Why did you choose Microsoft’s fellowship program? I chose Microsoft’s fellowship program because I admire Microsoft’s mission of striving to collaborate, innovate, and further advance cities with the desire to make communities more efficient and sustainable. I am currently a part of an organization at SJSU, The I.D.E.A.S. Club.  Our purpose is to bring multidisciplinary individuals with different backgrounds and skill sets together to share, discuss, and develop creative ideas. The fact that I could continue to do the same as a Microsoft fellow, but on a much larger scale, is such an amazing opportunity.

What’s your favorite civic project in the Bay Area? My favorite civic project in the Bay Area has to be Spartan Hacks, a civic tech competition held for 100 San Jose State students. I was on the organizing committee that planned and executed the event, and it was then that I understood the power of getting a community involved for one common cause. Students were so appreciative for the opportunity and I was glad to be apart of it. I thoroughly enjoyed watching students go through the planning and ideating stages to eventually have an end product/prototype to present to the judges. One of the teams that placed actually attracted the attention of City Officials who wanted to further develop their idea!

What projects are you working on for your position as tech fellow for Microsoft Bay Area?

I particularly enjoy utilizing my skill sets to help others leverage resources to get their own projects and ideas off the ground. I hope to align my fellowship goals with the I.D.E.A.S. Club that I am currently a part of. One project I am hoping to work on is another campus-wide event that will bring more people together for the opportunity to make more impactful changes to our community.

What’s your favorite project Microsoft Bay Area has done? With Microsoft being such an influential and impactful powerhouse, it is important for the company to lead by example with their ventures for social good. I see the positive benefits from the initiatives Microsoft uses to empower their employees to reach out in their communities and help with projects that align with their personal interests. Whether it would be matching employee donations to charities of their choice or through hands-on volunteerism, Microsoft is encouraging community engagement and support in various methods of giving back.

What excites you about civic tech? As an Industrial and Systems Engineering major, our goal is to design, improve, and optimize products and/or systems where a couple of the main concerns address efficiency and sustainability. It is exciting to see the similarities between how my major and civic technology is used in communities!

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities? One problem I hope civic tech will solve for cities is to find ways to dramatically increase community engagement. Local government officials should keep an open channel of communication to all the individuals in the community to figure out what the community needs and take appropriate action. Cities need a system that provides transparency and inclusion where people know what actions are being taken and if there is actual follow-through.