Two-Time World Series of Innovation Challenge Winner Uyen Tran Talks Entrepreneurial Mindset

18-year-old Uyen Tran is a college freshman at Cal Poly Pomona, CA, who led both the teams she captained to victory in last year’s World Series of Innovation (WSI), winning two different challenges. Tran was introduced to NFTE through the Hospitality and Tourism program at Oak Grove High School, CA and was instantly drawn to its hands-on and interactive method of promoting an entrepreneurial mindset.

“As a student in the NFTE program, I was able to participate in many different programs like entrepreneurship competitions, networking events, and many more.” Tran continued, “Through each and every one of these events I was able to gain new skills and knowledge in areas like public speaking, innovative and critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and much more.”

Through NFTE, she gained a lot of opportunities to utilize her own skills in entrepreneurship and innovation which helped her in working on the WSI challenges. “In the challenge,” Tran said, “I found that I was able to apply all these skills during my experience. The ones that I found the most evident during my WSI experience was definitely my problem solving, critical thinking, and innovative thinking.”

Working together and leading a team was something new for Uyen, allowing for both personal and entrepreneurial growth. “During my experience participating in WSI, I was able to really improve in my communication and collaboration abilities. As a team leader for two different groups, I strongly relied on this skill to get us all together to work towards one goal.

Participating in the WSI challenge was particularly meaningful to Uyen, “At first, it was just a way to expand my entrepreneurial mindset and test my innovative thinking. I wanted to challenge myself and see where my already gained skills would be able to take me. In the end of the challenge, however, I was able to take away much more from the whole experience. Amongst the many things I learned, one of them was that with innovative thinking, you can turn something simple into something much greater and potentially make a difference in your community and even the world.”

Making a difference in the world was exactly what they set out to do. In both submissions for last year’s World Series of Innovation (WSI), Uyen and her team members shared a goal of bettering the Earth and the global community by aiming to create a greener and healthier environment for all.

“All of the challenged managed to catch my eye.” Tran said, “They were all issues and development goals in the world that I wanted to address. After much thought, however, I was able to think of a few ideas for the Moody’s Foundation Energy as well as the Moody’s Foundation Infrastructure and decided to follow through with these two challenges.”

With their submissions of
and CropUp they set themselves apart from their competitors by considering many different aspects of their innovation. They looked at how it would affect people, how it would affect the earth, its visual appearance, the ways it could be used, sustainability and much more.

“Participating in the WSI definitely allowed me to incorporate a more creative sense of thinking with the things I do. Creating submissions for the challenges was an eye-opening experience that enabled me to see the problems we face in our world. It not only made me gain a better understanding in the entrepreneurial mindset but it also pushed me into wanting to make a difference towards the things around me. More than I did before, I want to be able to utilize the skills that I have to make a change in our world.”

Uyen is currently majoring in architecture at Cal Poly Pomona and plans on pursuing a career within the field. She knows that whatever she does, she will always be able to employ her entrepreneurship mindset and embrace her creativity and innovative thinking. “The whole experience gave me a better understanding of entrepreneurship and expanded my entrepreneurial mindset. I am strongest when it comes to creativity and innovation. I always had a creative mind and would enjoy thinking up new ideas all the time. The one thing that I could improve in is taking risks. I hope to progress in this aspect and be able to make decisions even when I am faced with challenges.”

She wants students participating in WSI this year to remember to have fun with what they’re doing! They should be as creative as they want without letting anything hold them back, to make something that they are proud and passionate about and really embrace what they create. “Because,” as Tran states, “with an entrepreneurial mindset, anyone can take the simplest things and turn it into something greater.