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From Vietnam to York College: Computer Engineering grad’s journey continues

March 28, 2017
Thuong Nguyen York College
Thuong Nguyen, Class of 2016

Thuong Nguyen’s first trip on an airplane took off from her home in Vietnam and flew almost halfway around the world.

She was a teenager, and the more than 8,000-mile trip to the United States took about 24 hours.

She spoke a little English but wasn’t yet fluent. She asked strangers for help in the airport as she scrambled to find the right gates to make her connections.

“It didn’t help that I looked about 12,” the York College of Pennsylvania graduate says today. “I’m very tiny. People kept asking me if I was OK or if I was lost.”

Thuong – her full name is pronounced T(h)oon Wwhen – made it to the U.S. She reunited with her aunt in Maryland, where she was about to begin the next chapter of her life.

Warming up to the U.S.

Thuong found America very cold, at first.

“I was always reaching for my jacket,” she recalls. “In Vietnam, it was always so hot.” 

It didn’t take her long to warm up.

Thuong’s determination showed from the beginning of her time in the States.

She worked on her English and enrolled in a Maryland community college. She earned two associate degrees, one in Engineering and one in Computer-Aided Design and Drafting.

Then, she transferred to York College of Pennsylvania to continue her studies. 

Elevating class discourse

Dr. Wayne Blanding, one of her professors and her academic advisor, describes Thuong as being very quiet but technically very competent, especially with problem-solving.

“She elevated the discourse in our class environment,” recalls Dr. Blanding. “Most of our engineering students are male; we have relatively few females or minorities. She brought in some valuable cultural experiences and perspectives.”

Thuong says she was often the only female in her class. She laughs about it now.

“It made me feel special,” she says.

She says her professors were patient with her when she had questions about what they had talked about in class.

“They gave me extra time to understand the discussions and showed me what I did wrong or right,” she says. “It’s like a family; we knew all of the professors in the Engineering Department.”

Landing the interview

As she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, Thuong worked on a team that built a bike-rental station.

It was while her team showcased the bike station at an event that an executive at Stanley Black & Decker came over to look at the project.

“He asked my professor for a good job candidate and was given my name,” Thuong says. “My professor kept reminding me, and when I finally found the courage to call them, I got an interview.”

She graduated in August 2016 with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering and minor in Computer Science. Right after, she began working at Stanley Black & Decker in Towson, Maryland.

Strongly representing York College

Thuong now works as a software engineer/electrical design engineer. She’s learning new computer languages and working with Bluetooth low energy, internet of thing (IoT), and backend and frontend web development.

One current project is designed to help and support the new features for the next version of ToolConnect App (both IOS and Android). The app is a powerful tool that help customer control their tools including batteries, lights and any DeWalt's tools.

“I do a lot of testing and learning step by step,” she says. “It’s all for the future.”

Dr. Blanding says he’s not surprised Thuong is doing well at Stanley Black & Decker.

“She has a tremendous work ethic and is able to work independently, but she’s also a good team member,” he says. “She’s a very strong representative of York College.”

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