Every few years, Stephanie Harsche gets an urge to try something new.
"I've always been that way," she said.
She was born in France, and when she turned 17 she got an urge to travel. It landed her in Chehalis, Washington, on a foreign-exchange program.
"I was invited by my new American family to stay —permanently. So I moved to the United States and never looked back," Harsche said. Harsche earned her master's in nuclear engineering from Oregon State in 2002. She was one of eight inductees into the Oregon State College of Engineering's Council of Early Career Engineers in 2018. Membership in the council is for alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional practice and/or service to the university, the profession, or society at large.
Harsche says that internships and her coursework in thermal hydraulics at Oregon State prepared her well for an assignment to upgrade an operations plant in her first job with AREVA.
Following the 2011 mega-quake and tsunami in Japan, Harsche led a post-Fukushima effort for Westinghouse to develop and apply the lessons learned from the disaster to future rebuilding efforts and power plant construction. Her team produced a series of products for industry, including the spent fuel pool instrumentation system — a mechanism for tracking how much water is inside the pool when you can't see it.
Since 2015, Harsche's job has involved building new plants, and her team is working on Westinghouse's new plant design. Two units are currently being built in Georgia, and four more are going up in China.
"It's exciting to be involved in the design and implementation of a new plant," Harsche said.
Today, when Harsche gets an urge to try something new, she asks herself, "Where can I provide the most value to my company, and how will that challenge me?" She hopes her next position provides more opportunities to manage teams.
"I enjoy empowering young engineers, encouraging them to find their voice, and making sure hey understand that their ideas matter," she said.
Harsche serves on the advisory board for the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering in the ollege of Engineering at Oregon State.