Jobs & Internships


Electrical Engineer - Deep Submergence Lab


Looking for a little more adventure and challenge in your career? How about designing equipment to work while submerged at 10,000 psi or fixing your mistakes in the dark on a moving ship north of the Arctic Circle? Want to work on cutting edge underwater robots for both scientific and military applications? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a world leader in autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) technology

Not only do we design and build some of the most unique and advanced vehicles in the world, but we take everything we build into the field and test it in the crucible of the ocean. Successful candidates will have a mix of design, build, and field work with worldwide travel potential, significant challenge, and generous annual and cruise leave policies. We are looking for not only a jack of all trades, but also a master of some who can make unique contributions within the group.

Candidates will work primarily within the VAST (various autonomous subsea technologies) group within the Deep Submergence lab but will have opportunities to cross pollinate into other projects within the Deep Submergence Lab, the National Deep Submergence Facility, and other vehicle groups at WHOI. Members of the this team all spend time both in the office/lab and in the field and tend to take designs from concept all the way to the field. Field operations within the group tend to be focused on testing but in the broader lab missions also include science, exploration, and disaster response with VAST members often taking part in these other activities.

The VAST group is involved in a large number of (primarily) federally funded projects aimed at improving human robot interaction, deploying AUVs in novel environments, and application of AUV technologies to other pressing problems. The current mix is approximately 70% defense related projects and 30% science and exploration related projects so candidates must be comfortable with the defense mission, US citizens, and able to obtain a security clearance if requested.

This group values work life balance with reasonable and reasonably felxible work hours, generous annual and cruise leave policies and a universal sense of adventure. However, a significant commitment to success of the program and the mission will be required during crunch time particularly while in the field. This is a group that is known for going to extreme measures to make a cruise succeed even in the face of significant setbacks and any long term part of the group will need to have the same attitude. Candidates must be highly creative when it's time to be creative but must be able to become highly focused and effective as deadlines approach. The ship will sail whether the vehicle is ready or not.

Engineer II:

With some supervision to achieve assigned objectives, identifies and participates in engineering projects in support of scientific and research activities through the demonstration of one or more specialized skills. Will be expected to work on tasks requiring creativity and independent thinking, along with a proven understanding of fundamental research and engineering principles.

Research Engineer:

With little supervision, works creatively and independently to establish objectives, meet deadlines, and complete difficult engineering assignments by demonstrating full competency in one or more engineering areas; assists substantively in planning technical aspects of experiments, as well as design, testing, and use of major system components.

The internal working title for this position could be either Engineer II or Research Engineer. The final level of the position will be determined commensurate with the selected candidate's level of education & experience.

Essential Functions

This position is an Electrical Engineering position with design, build, and troubleshooting responsibilities. Candidates will need to be able to work broadly in computing, digital circuitry, timing, imaging, DC power, A2D systems, general communications, wiring and cabling and other fields as needed. Various subject matter experts are available to help with any particular point, but the successful candidate will be able to quickly assimilate knowledge from various sources and then design and execute a solution in a wide variety of sub-disciplines.

Specific tasks include but are certainly not limited to:

Engineer II:

  • Work on various other AUV development projects including defense-related projects.
  • Design and build DC power systems, timing networks, imaging systems, actuator control, sensor inputs, computing systems, etc
  • Develop small-scale embedded control boards and other devices including potentially writing microcontroller firmware in C/C++
  • Troubleshoot prototype systems in the field in high-pressure situations.
  • Manage communications systems including RF, serial, and acoustic links as well as basic TCP/IP networks.
  • Support field operations and testing
  • Serve as project engineer on small or medium projects or subsystems:
  • A working knowledge of Linux-based, python or C++ software development will open up additional opportunities within the group as well
  • Conceptualizes solutions to engineering problem
  • Develops, calibrates, and tests new designs and techniques
  • Develops computer code, microprocessor code, and uses CAD, CAE tools
  • Troubleshoots electronic/mechanical systems
  • Participates in report writing to document developments and tests. May single-author reports and articles
  • May supervise other personnel

Research Engineer:

  • Develops major portions of electronic or mechanical systems with supervision consisting primarily of milestone progress reviews; frequently acts as Project Engineer on major projects
  • Conducts hardware developments such as new sensor techniques, autonomous battery-powered instrumentation, control systems for manned and robotic submersibles, etc.
  • Writes complex computer code for use in instrumentation, system modeling, and electronic design
  • Develops new sampling methods involving complex mechanical, electrical, or electronic instrumentation
  • Plays a significant role in report writing and proposal preparation and may single-author results
  • Interacts with scientific and technical staff colleagues to foster research ideas, develop and hone research/experimental skills
  • May supervise one or more Engineering Assistants and/or Engineers

Non-Essential Functions:

  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Appointment will be made at the Engineer II or Research Engineer rank depending upon education and previous experience.

Engineer II

  • Must have a minimum of a BS and 3 years of experience or an MS degree
  • The preferred candidate will have a BS and five years of experience or an MS and 3 years.
  • Analog electrical engineering skills relevant to design of DC power systems
  • Analog electrical engineering skills relevant to design of timing systems and acoustics. Candidates should be comfortable working on analog systems up to several MHz but do not need true RF or microwave skils. Some experience with RF is desirable.
  • Serial communications including RS-232, RS-485, I2C, SPI and CAN
  • Basic networking skills and familiarity for up to gigabit Ethernet. While not required, Linux admin skills, fiber optic network experience, etc are all highly valued.
  • Excellent troubleshooting skills including the ability to work under adverse field conditions
  • Battery experience is a plus
  • Embedded processor and embedded C++ experience is a plus
  • Prior at sea experience of any kind, especially multi-day experience, even for leisure activities is a major plus.

Research Engineer

  • Master's degree in an engineering with three years of related experience, or Bachelor's degree in an engineering or appropriate field with more than five years of related experience. In the absence of a formal degree, considerable equivalent work experience is required. Successful candidates will have demonstrated the technical skill, motivation, independence, and creativity necessary to complete difficult engineering tasks.

Special Requirements

Must be a U.S. Citizen and able to obtain a DOD SECRET clearance.

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

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.

To Apply: