The work of the Software Application Services team is as diverse as its members.
The six people currently on the team have ties to Vietnam, Iraq, Japan, and Mexico, which they say makes their work more fun and more effective.
"The team is very diverse and that adds to our unique approach," said John Vaillancourt, senior director of information technology. "People see things from their unique perspective. It gives us a chance to look at things from unique angles to make sure that we're getting it right."
The work of the small team affects all SDCOE employees as well as students throughout the county in one way or another.
They use their programming and software skills to ensure SDCOE's online presence is safe, accessible, and efficient. Much of their work helps SDCOE move closer to achieving paperless operations, which is saving time as well as trees.
Some of their projects include managing the infrastructure of SDCOE.net, building websites for SDCOE programs, and building an application that will help keep kids safe by making it easier for law enforcement personnel to contact school district officials.
Get to Know the Software Application Services Team
Jennifer Bartolome, application architect
Jennifer got into programing when she was still in high school. After working for a few years in the private sector, she decided she could do more good working for schools. She worked in the Grossmont Union High and San Diego Unified school districts before starting at SDCOE in 2013.
"The best part of the work is knowing that I have the ability to bring new technology into the classroom in ways we may not have seen before," she said.
Jennifer keeps just as busy at home as she does at the office. She has two sons and two dogs and enjoys exercise, personal tech projects, Legos, cartography, and photography. She grew up in a military family and went to school in Japan and Hawaii among other places.
David Galvan, web developer, programmer
David was fascinated with programing at an early age and taught himself how to code. He read books and magazines looking for code that he could use and learn from.
"I had my Commodore 64 all souped-up and ready," he said.
He applied those skills in the workplace and got even more experience working on computers at different companies.
David has been at SDCOE for 13 years. He said he still enjoys programing as much as he did in high school. He still does projects at home as a hobby.
When he's not at a keyboard, David loves gardening.
David was born in Salinas and spent most of his childhood there, but also went to school in Tijuana and Mexicali.
Ruaa Matti, webmaster/developer-programmer
Ruaa grew up in Iraq and studied chemical engineering there. When war broke out, her family moved to Egypt for a few years before coming to the United States in 2009.
She earned a master's degree in computer science and software engineering from National University and started her career at a local start-up company. She wasn't crazy about the hours, though, so she accepted the webmaster job at SDCOE two years ago.
She said she enjoys the job and team, which she has learned a lot from.
"The beauty of our team is that everyone is from different cultures," she said.
In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping, traveling, sketching, cooking, and belly dancing.
Uyen Quach, senior manager of integrated applications and systems
Uyen was born and raised in Vietnam, where she had hoped to become a teacher. She moved to the United States in 1994 to join her father, who left Vietnam years earlier due to political tensions following the Vietnam War.
When she moved here, she originally wanted to become a nurse. Then she realized that she doesn't like blood and germs and decided to study computer science instead. "I decided if I can't work with human bodies, I'll work with computers," she joked.
After working for a start-up company for a few years, she came to SDCOE in 2003.
"My heart is with data and using it to make a difference for students by improving existing systems," she said.
At home, she enjoys spending time with her kids, cooking, and learning.
Hai Son Tran, web developer, programmer
Hollywood movies inspired Hai Son to get into computer programing. Films like The Matrix and Swordfish made it seem exciting to be a computer hacker, he said.
He started working with computers at companies in his native Vietnam. He moved to the United States last year and began working at SDCOE in January.
"It's rewarding when I can build something that helps people with their business and support them to make their work easier," he said. "It makes me happy to see people using the things I helped build."
When not at work, Hai Son enjoys exploring California and Mexico on his motorcycle, going on an excursion nearly every weekend.
He said he also enjoys the diversity of his team at work.
"It's good to be around different cultures and learn from different people," he said.
Joel Wigginton, application architect
Joel started studying computers in high school and knew right away that it was what he wanted to do for a living.
"Computers were interesting. It just felt like computers were the future," he said.
The Southern California native started at SDCOE about a year ago after working for private companies, the Department of Defense, and the Encinitas Union School District. He was excited by the opportunity to make an impact on students across the county with his work.
"I get the satisfaction that, even though we don't always get to see it, the work we do helps students," he said.
For fun, Joel enjoys traveling and playing paintball with his 13-year-old son. He also keeps active by snowboarding.