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Postdoctoral Investigator - Autonomous Vehicle and Sensor Technology (AVAST)

Would you enjoy creating and developing cutting-edge instrumentation and electronics solutions for a broad range of ocean science applications?
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is currently searching for a non-research Postdoctoral Investigator to join its Autonomous Vehicles and Sensing Technologies program (AVAST). This non-research postdoctoral position with AVAST will provide broad expertise to WHOI’s research community for prototyping in instrumentation, electronics, mechatronics, control systems, and related areas. The AVAST Postdoctoral Investigator is a full time, regular on-site position reporting to the AVAST Director. The initial appointment will be for one year with the possibility of a one-year extension. Roughly half of this position will be used to provide high-level design support to WHOI researchers who need incidental or longer-term expertise with electronics prototyping, innovation, and assessment. Roughly one quarter will be used to work directly with WHOI researchers to ideate, scope, and plan electronics or automation solutions for new ocean technology projects and proposals. The remaining one quarter will be used to enhance instrumentation and related aspects of AVAST’s resource ecosystem in WHOI’s David Center for Ocean Innovation. These work-effort distributions may be adjusted by the AVAST Director as needed in response to AVAST needs or demand. .
The Institution has a top-rated postdoctoral program ( that supports a dynamic postdoctoral community with formal mentoring and career guidance programs. The AVAST Postdoctoral Investigator will have the opportunity to participate in educational and outreach activities associated with WHOI’s postdoctoral program.
Applicants must provide a concise statement (no longer than four pages) that addresses (1) professional interests that could be pursued within WHOI within AVAST, (2) anticipated career plans, with an explanation of how postdoctoral professional experience at WHOI would complement an applicant’s existing experience and preparation, (3) interests in, experience with, and/or planned commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in research, teaching, and/or service in their career, and (4; optional) life-impact statement that describes any significant life circumstance that has impacted productivity, trajectory, or performance (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic, illness, caretaking responsibilities; 1-page).  

Essential Functions

This position will initially work closely with the AVAST Director who will structure and assign objectives, but within the first six months the position will be expected to operate more independently and accountably: working on tasks that require creativity, independent thinking, and problem solving. A proven understanding of core principles of instrumentation, electrical engineering, electronics design, and fabrication principles is essential to this position. 
Essential Functions
  1. Provide engineering design and prototyping expertise to WHOI R&D projects resident in AVAST.
  2. Provide design and scoping advice through AVAST for WHOI research staff.
  3. Enhance AVAST technical equipment and resources in WHOI’s David Center for Ocean Innovation.
  4. Recommend and implement new WHOI technical capabilities and prototyping workflows at AVAST.
  5. Provide technical instruction for WHOI staff as specified by the AVAST Director.
  6. Curate AVAST’s common-use ocean technology design archive.
  7. Mentor AVAST’s undergraduate and graduate interns as assigned by the AVAST Director.

  • Perform other duties as deemed necessary
  • Other incidental AVAST David Center duties as assigned by the AVAST Director.

Education & Experience

  • Degree in Engineering, PhD, or equivalent
  • Strong skill sets relevant to design and prototyping of ocean technologies such as instrumentation and measurement, PCB and circuit design, microcontroller programming, mechanical CAD experience (SolidWorks and/or Inventor), rapid fabrication and 3D printing, and CNC prototyping and fabrication.
  • Working familiarity with commercial-scale production and/or manufacturing workflows.

Soft Skills:
  • Client-oriented mindset to providing engineering support to AVAST’s broad range of users.
  • Proactive attitude toward supporting and enhancing AVAST’s in-house technical resources.
  • Enthusiasm for learning new skills and working across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
  • Enthusiasm and appropriate attitude for peer mentoring and supervising interns.
  • Strong organizational, project management, and documentation skills.
  • Ability to work independently and accountably

Special Requirements

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 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

No pre-determined physical requirements; all candidates should be encouraged to apply.

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.