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Pinoy Abroad

Group eyes more Fil-Ams in Silicon Valley

A University of California alumni group has launched a program to increase the number of Filipino-American workers in tech companies in the Bay Area.

The Filipino Americans in Silicon Valley (FASTER) launched a pilot mentorship program with two UC Berkley student organizations to allow students to have access to professionals as they enter the tech industry.

Carlos Miguel Lasa, FASTER co-founder and Twitter product manager, said the program is part of their initiative to put more Filipino-Americans in the local tech industry to reflect their numbers in California.

"Filipino Americans are the largest Asian American ethnic group in California, but we don’t see this translate to employment in the local tech industry,” Lasa said.

“We recognize that there are multiple factors in play here, from awareness around tech careers to academic preparedness. Our goal is to help local Filipino American youth take that first step towards a tech career,” he continued.

Participants of the pilot program, all members of Pilipino Association of Scientists, Architects and Engineers (PASAE) and Pilipinx Academic Student Services (PASS), have gone on to secure internships and jobs at leading tech companies such as  Facebook and Oracle.

This year, the program will include Pilipino American Student Union (PASU) at Stanford University.

Co-Founder Erin Pangilinan said FASTER was inspired by the college alumni network of their parents, which allowed them to "gain more exposure and experience in their careers."

“It made no sense to me that similar groups didn’t exist for the Filipino American tech community in the Bay Area," she said.

FASTER and partner organizations will hold its conference, FASTERCON, this year on October 14 at UC Berkley to continue its annual efforts to highlight Filipino-American work in the Bay Area tech industry.

“We want to provide a venue for stories to be told of our community’s contributions to the tech industry. We should recognize that Silicon Valley's rich history of Asian American contributions is significant, ” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan cited Dado Banatao, inventor of computer chipsets, and Bobby Murphy, co-founder and CTO of Snapchat, as notable Filipino-American tech pioneers.

FASTERCON also "aims to inspire Filipino American youth to consider careers in various technology disciplines like engineering, design, data science, or technology entrepreneurship." —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News