Spark Award

Tracy Nguyen

Essential Eyecare Optometry

For extraordinary service as a mentor and advocate; for inspiring countless girls and young women to pursue engineering and STEM; and for embodying SWE’s core values and mission.

A practicing optometrist and informal educator, Tracy Nguyen is a champion of diversity in STEM who wholeheartedly embraces the Society of Women Engineers’ mission of empowering women to reach their full potential in engineering careers and achieving parity and equity. She holds a B.S. in biology with a minor in music from the University of California San Diego and a Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern California College of Optometry. Dr. Nguyen’s advocacy stems from a deep level of support for her daughter’s engineering journey and a strong belief that children’s STEM interest must be piqued early and cultivated through college so they can succeed and thrive in these fields.

Dr. Nguyen discovered SWE in 2015 while researching role models for her daughter, immediately registering her in SWENext. That connection ignited her involvement, which continues to grow. Dr. Nguyen has been the FY22 and FY23 SWE San Diego outreach director and is a SWE Affiliate leader for local community colleges and global affiliates. She was recently elected FY24 vice president of the SWE San Diego executive council. She serves as a FIRST Robotics mentor, volunteer, and judge, and a Girl Scouts community partner. She has served as a member of the SWE societal outreach committee’s global workgroup in FY22 and FY23. Under her leadership, SWE San Diego organized or participated in 90 outreach events in FY23.

A SWE counselor for 16 SWENext clubs, Dr. Nguyen has mentored many young women to be successful future engineers and innovators. One of her SWENext clubs won a WE20 SWENext Best Practices Award, and members received the SWENext Global Innovator Award in 2020, 2021, and 2023; the SWENext Northrop Grumman Community Award in 2021; WE Local Global Innovator Awards in 2021, 2022, and 2023; and STEM in Action Awards in 2020 and 2021. One hundred percent of that school’s SWENexters are now pursuing engineering or STEM majors at prestigious universities, and some have received SWE scholarships.

Dr. Nguyen has also established SWE’s presence through SWENext globally, helping start clubs in Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. She has fostered collaboration between organizations whose goals align with SWE’s mission, including Girl Scouts of the USA, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers. She has broadened SWE’s reach into underrepresented communities in Libya, Benin, and Nigeria.

Dr. Nguyen has been recognized with many SWE awards: WE Local Engaged Advocate Award (2021, 2023), SWE San Diego’s Diversity Champion Award and Member of the Year (both in 2023), and K-12 Volunteer of the Year (2021, 2022). She spearheaded SWE San Diego’s Girls in STEM Inspiration Day, recognized as a WE Local Outstanding Event. San Diego Business Journal named her among the Top 50 Women of Influence in Engineering in 2022 and 2023.

Dr. Nguyen has two college-age daughters: a SWE collegiate sophomore at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a first-year student at the University of California, San Diego. Her hobbies include photography, cooking, and traveling.