Through the years: Wong pursues mechanical engineering

Abby Siu, Staff Writer

Jenny Wong works on a computer chip while at work at Qualcomm, Dec. 15, 2021.
Jenny Wong works on a computer chip while at work at Qualcomm, Dec 15, 2021. Photo courtesy of Jenny Wong.

In August of 2002, Jenny Wong took her first steps onto the Westview campus. Many freshmen at Mt. Carmel were given the opportunity to transfer to Westview that year.

“[Westview] definitely felt newer, nicer and less crowded,” Wong said. “Coming from Mt. Carmel, I think our class had over 1,000 students at that point, and basically only 300 students transferred over to Westview at that point, so there was a lot more space. [It was] quieter [and]  friendlier.”

According to Wong, many of the students transferred to Westview with their pockets of friends, making the school feel more welcoming, even though the year as a whole wasn’t as tight knit.

“Everyone felt comfortable,” Wong said. “No one felt scared to be there and [no one felt like]  a stranger.”

Wong’s year never officially had a 10 year reunion gathering, however, a few people ended up getting together to host a “friends catching up” type of event.

While Wong was at Westview, she didn’t experience any bullying or “high school drama” that you see on TV. Even so, Wong feels as if she didn’t get the full high school experience.

“When you’re a senior three years in a row, you don’t really feel intimidated by anyone else in the school because you are the oldest ones all the way though,” Wong said. “I felt like it was pretty comfortable, [but] I don’t think that that’s a bad thing, [and] I don’t regret my decision at all. I feel rather proud that I was in the first graduating class at Westview. I don’t think there are many people who can say they were ‘seniors’ three years in a row.”

Wong said that she’s glad she transferred to Westview her sophomore year, because without the distractions of a large high school population with upperclassmen, she was able to direct most of her focus towards her academics.

Some of Wong’s most cherished memories were in the chess club and anime club, both of which she started with her friends. She also really enjoyed lunch time.

“I was part of the nerdy group,” Wong said. “My favorite part was lunch. We would always eat inside of the AP Calculus classroom with Mr. [Sanjevi] Subbiah. He would chat with us and goof around with us during lunch.”

Wong said that for her, those experiences made AP Calc her most memorable class.

“He taught AP Calculus AB and BC, so a lot of us had him for two years, and he got to know us pretty well,” Wong said. “If you were napping in class then he’d go over and wack kids in the head with a little folder, and you know, just playful things like that. So that was definitely the most fun just because we all knew each other and we all knew the teacher, and I enjoyed math.”

Throughout high school, Wong developed a deeper understanding of math and science.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard of the standard Asian stereotype: doctor, lawyer, engineer, [but] I knew I had to be one of those three,” Wong said. “I was leaning more towards bioengineering back when I was in high school, but that was because I tended to like science more, like biology, chemistry, physics.”

While in college, Wong started dating her now-husband, and from then on she said she had her life planned out..

“I’d say it probably took mid-college to have that figured out, and that’s because my husband and I have been dating since college, so we kind of grew up together and figured out our lives together, so that might be why for me I figured it out a bit early,” Wong said. 

After graduating, she stayed in the Berkeley area for two years and worked for a medical device company as a mechanical engineer, but eventually returned to San Diego because that’s where most of her family was.

After moving back to San Diego, Wong knew she had to get a job, so she applied to several tech companies with mechanical engineering spots open, Qualcomm being one of them.

She landed a job as a mechanical engineer at Qualcomm and today, works closely with hardware engineers to develop systems to test the devices.

Qualcomm develops chips that go into phones, iPads, cars, and other products. Wong and her group of mechanical engineers work within Qualcomm to help test the products.

“We call them the bench team, [and] they characterize the device with the software to write, but in order to do that they need the software to house the device,” Wong said. “We work together with tools like autocad and creo (those are 3D cad tools), and we also sometimes run thermal analysis on tools called anses. It’s pretty fun. You work with a lot of different tools, mostly on a computer.”

Looking back on her first years of high school, Wong said that, in terms of academics, she wouldn’t change a thing, and that she’s happy with her life now. The experiences she had prepared her for the job she currently enjoys and finds fulfillment doing.

“Don’t stress out too much about having your life completely planned, because things change,” Wong said. “You go through college and you discover your passions. You might think ‘oh, I’m pre-med,’ for four years of high school, but then later on you might realize that you enjoy drawing or art, you can find ways to explore your passions while still making a good income. So just stay focused on academics, but don’t completely stress yourself out because it’s not the end of the world if things don’t fully graph out into what you thought it would be.”