Stephanie Kay Larsen, Senior Verification Engineer, Advantech B+B SmartWorx
Bachelor of Science Degree Computer Information Systems from DeVry Institute of Technology (although now it is called (DeVry University)
My name is Stephanie Larsen. I am a Senior Verification Engineer, at Advantech B+B SmartWorx for over 8 years. As a verification engineer, my responsibilities include designing and implementing test procedures to determine if a product works as intended. I am responsible to verify that released products are of high quality. I have worked on all flavors of B+B products ranging from WiFi, serial, telematics, wireless, and more! I really enjoy getting to know so many different technologies and working with my co-workers.
I am a wife to my high school sweetheart, Devon for 19 years, a proud mother of two daughters, Hannah, 16 and Hailey, 13 and have 2 pets a silver lab puppy named Bella Mae and one hermit crab named Shrimp.
I grew up in Ottawa, IL and went to Illinois Valley Community College and received two degrees: Associate in Arts and Associate in Science. Upon graduating with a Computer Information Systems Bachelor degree from DeVry Institute of Technology, I was hired at Tellabs and continued my career there for 13 years in the telecommunications field.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. We love boating in the summer, snowmobiling in the winter, watching my girls play/perform their extracurricular activities, traveling, running/walking, and sitting on my patio to enjoy nature and wild life.
Talk about the culture of your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
Advantech’s culture is fast paced, multiple projects going on the same time, and is family oriented. They advocate for inclusion, diversity, and innovation.
Luckily in both of my jobs, I have always been taken under the wings of my coworkers. All/most of them were men. They have all treated me really well and I have never felt different just because I was a woman.
Describe a recent company project (in which you were involved) that went particularly well. How did you and your team go about ensuring success?
I cannot think of a project that went particularly well compared to others but I can say in the end of each project we as a team come together and always release a product which works as it was intended. When working extra hours is needed or brainstorming independently then coming together to discuss other options or moving resources around to make a deadline is needed, we all do what we need to do to make things happen and move the project forward.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
Honestly how much they make and the difference they make in world. Neither of my parents went to college and I had seen they struggled and knew I didn’t want to. I have always liked to solve problems and was pretty good with math and science. At the beginning of my career, I wrote code and fixed field defects, then was given the opportunity to do automation and manual testing. I liked the chance to expand my knowledge and to pick the requirements apart and ensure things were implemented correctly. It’s fun to look at the product from an end user point of view to ensure the product does what it is supposed to do in an easy manner.
Describe your biggest career challenge. How did you solve it — or what was the outcome or lesson learned?
My biggest career challenge is to remind myself to have patience. Our process is quite iterative so sometimes every day seems like a rollercoaster, some are good where we make great progress and others are bad because you feel like several steps have been taken back but all in all it all works out and in the end and a quality project is released. This job reminds me to have patience and to take a breath knowing we are all in this together and ultimately have the same goal.
Secondly I struggled with is balancing work and life. I have learned to manage my time and the stress of kids’ busy lives. I try to delegate, prioritize both at home and here at work and somehow get more done in less time. Things always work out well when clear expectations are communicated.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice I would give to my younger self is to be more confident and know your worth! However you portray yourself, others will too. If you are not confident or devalue yourself others will see you like that and in turn undervalue you. Be confident, always be willing to learn, be open to other people’s ideas, always and listen to your peers.