NAME: Tsz Ching Wong
NSIN AFFILIATION: NSIN Hacks and Hacking for Defense Alum
AFFILIATION: Computer Engineering Student at University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Q: What inspired you to explore the national security community? Do you have a connection to the military or government service?
Before going over what inspired me the most, I would like to start with how I got introduced to the community. As a computer engineering candidate at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, I have always wanted to gain more real-world experience and the skills that you won't be able to acquire from textbooks. The Hacking for Defense (H4D) program had everything that I needed. In the H4D program, students were able to work with Department of Defense (DoD) sponsors to tackle an actual problem and propose a solution while working in a classroom environment. After speaking to DoD sponsors, our team learned about the challenges and limitations that employees were facing. Thus, after completing the program, I decided to join the national security community to continue my journey. I do not have a direct connection to the military, but my sister currently serves in the National Guard.
Q: Is it important for you to recognize Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month and can you tell us why or why not?
If I were to choose whether our state is a salad bowl or a melting pot, I would say a salad bowl knowing the history of Hawai'i. The waves of immigrants did not outweigh the native Hawaiians but added more flavors to the salad. Hawai'i is known for its diversity and mixed cultures, and culture is a powerful tool since it can affect one's way of thinking and react. Hence, a mix of cultures will lead to astonishing, creative, and out-of-the-box ideas that solve people's problems. Therefore, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month is necessary.
Q: Who inspired you growing up and how has it shaped your journey in the past, present, and future?
I did not grow up with my grandpa, but he influenced me the most. As a child, I always looked up to my grandpa since he fixed everything in the house. My grandpa was an electrician, but he learned most of the housing renovation skills on his own time. Though I started as an electrical engineering major, I ended up as a computer engineering major after trying for a semester. Still today, I have adopted his curiosity, open-mindedness, and tendency to solve challenging problems.
Q: As a person of Asia Pacific descent, how is the national security community different for you?
While completing the NSIN Hacks and the H4D program, I have encountered students from different backgrounds and professionals in their fields. I was fascinated by how much our team was able to accomplish and deliver as a team. A person might have a good idea, but the best solution is often a compilation of people's views, thus, making our solution distinctive and convincing. Being a part of the national security community has provided me the opportunity to be involved and share my perspectives with other colleagues.
Q: What legacy do you want to leave for the next generation of professionals in the defense innovation ecosystem?
I want to leave some words of encouragement for the next generation. As day-to-day technology emerges quickly, I will not be worried that my future child will not have access to information but the ability to filter and obtain information willingly. Knowing what is going on around you and staying updated will benefit you in the future since you never know what will happen in the next seconds. Adaptation also helps one stepping out of their comfort zone to gain bits of knowledge that will come in handy when needed.