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Sensor Development Engineer

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is the world's leading, independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, and education. Our scientists and engineers push the boundaries of knowledge about the ocean to reveal its impacts on our planet and our lives.
The Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Department is currently searching for a Sensor Development Engineer to work with a cross-disciplinary team focused on developing biogeochemical sensors and instrumentation for ocean and environmental applications. Areas of interest include the ocean carbon system, coral reef health, microplastics, sea level rise, and deep ocean exploration. This is a broad posting targeting engineers with interest/experience in various aspects of sensor development. Significant duties include designing, prototyping, testing, and characterizing various sensor systems on the lab bench, and subsequently deploying and validating them at sea. Familiarity with optics or optical sensing is beneficial but not essential. A desire to propose and pursue novel ideas and technologies is encouraged. This is a regular, full-time, exempt position, and is eligible for benefits.
Job Level 

This is an entry to early career level position designed to encourage the connection and application of academic training to results-oriented projects in support of scientific and research activities. Initially this position will have direct supervision to achieve structured and assigned objectives, and is expected to later expand to broader and more independent tasks. The candidate will be expected to work on tasks requiring creativity and independent thinking, along with a proven understanding of fundamental research and engineering principles. The ideal candidate will have at least one area of specific engineering expertise (electrical, mechanical, ocean technology, computer science, or software), with demonstrated basic familiarity in a second area. Entry level candidates will be expected to learn new skills rapidly. 
The internal working title for this position could be either Engineer I or Engineer II The final level of the position will be determined commensurate with the selected candidate's level of education & experience.

Essential Functions

Essential functions will depend on the specific skillset of the selected applicant and will include a subset of the following:
  • Selects and programs embedded systems in Python, C, and/or C++.
  • Designs and fabricates PCBs for power distribution, analog signal generation and acquisition, serial communication, and microprocessors.
  • Develops and applies signal processing techniques.
  • Performs laboratory development, testing, calibration, and characterization of novel sensors and instrumentation.
  • Performs field testing of novel sensors and instrumentation.
  • Analyzes data using Matlab or Python and clearly documents and presents results.
  • Performs mechanical CAD using Solidworks or Inventor and is familiar with basic strength analysis, including FEA.
  • Produces mechanical drawings suitable for fabrication using basic manufacturing techniques including milling, turning, waterjetting, and 3D printing.
  • Develops concepts for sampling and handling of fluids (pumps, valves, flow control, etc.)
  • Field testing and operation of sensors that requires travel and/or research cruises of up to 5 weeks
  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Engineering degree with minimal work experience, or evidence of an established, specialized engineering skill gained through experience in the absence of a formal degree. Experience working to develop and test analytical techniques will be viewed positively.
Engineer I:
 Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline with minimal work experience. This is an entry level position.
Engineer II:
Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline with 2+ years of demonstrated related experience or a Master’s degree in an engineering discipline.

Special Requirements

  • Must be able to obtain a TWIC card
  • WHOI has a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy in effect, where you must register your full vaccination status [vaccination plus booster] in order to begin your employment. The registration process is confidential and entails submitting your official vaccination records, or requesting to engage in the interactive exemption process for either a medical or religious reason

Physical Requirements

Physical duties for this position include but are not limited to, ability to lift less than 25 lbs independently, 2 times per day; carry 10-25 lbs, 2 times per day. Visual abilities to include near, far, peripheral, depth perception, and ability to distinguish basic colors. Hearing requirements include the ability to hear and respond to instructions, communicate effectively in loud areas (pier/dock, warehouse). Other physical tasks include occasional prolonged standing/walking; use of hands for basic /fine grasping and manipulation, repetitive motion, reaching above and below the shoulders, pushing, pulling, kneeling, bending, twisting, and stooping. Other occupational requirements include talking, traveling, working around others, and with others. Will be exposed to dust or other irritants and electrical/mechanical/power equipment hazards. Physical duties are subject to change.

Sea Duty

Sea Duty for this group is typically less than 8 weeks/year and can vary year-to-year. At sea, may work at least 8 hours per day and, at times in excess of 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. Sleep and work hours can deviate from those on land. May be expected to work on watch schedule (such as 8 hours on and 8 hours off or 12 hours on and 8 hours off) for all or part of a cruise or to work as hours are needed to accomplish the planned work. May need to travel during holidays and for long distances to and from foreign ports. May experience rudimentary living and working conditions, with shared and basic living quarters and laboratories. May experience bad or extreme weather conditions, including heavy seas, winter weather or hot, tropical weather. Work on deck may occur in both hot and cold conditions around the clock. Sea conditions will lead to active ship motion. Should be able to climb steep and vertical ladders and able to enter and exit compartments through hatches, doors, and sills. Should be able to carry heavy gear and participate in the loading and unloading of the ship as well as in the activities on deck and in the labs during the cruise. Shipboard environment may include: confined areas, shared sleeping quarters (berths) and bathroom facilities, small and basic berthing, fixed meal times and basic menus. Modest levels of heating, cooling, ventilation, and illumination, limited or no email and internet access and limited off-duty and recreational facilities (library, lounge, movies). May be exposed to potential allergens and irritants, including paint fumes. May experience constant and intermittent loud noises, and slippery and uneven surfaces.

WHOI is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer/Disabled/Veterans/M/F. We encourage Veterans and those with Disabilities to apply. Applications are reviewed confidentially. Applicants that require accommodation in the job application process are encouraged to contact us at (508) 289-2253 or email for assistance.