Robotics Engineer (Electrical)

Job ID
Location : Location
US-MA-Woods Hole

Job Summary


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is currently searching for a highly motivated and enthusiastic Robotics Engineer (Electrical) to join the Scibotics Lab within the Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department (AOPE).  This is a regular full-time, exempt position, and is eligible for full benefits. 


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a world leader in all things subsea, from groundbreaking ocean science and discoveries, to cutting edge subsea technology for the government, military and private sector. Here at WHOI you will work with world class scientists and engineers in a dynamic, fast paced environment, to contribute to science and technology that make a difference in our world.


The Scibotics Lab develops autonomous underwater vehicles and sensors that help scientists understand the ocean.  Applications include biologic and physical surveys, mapping, under-ice, environmental anomaly detection, and filming megafauna, with a focus on developing backseat autonomy capabilities with sensors and software.  We are a ‘hands-on’, team-oriented group with an intensive and growing field operations schedule.  The Scibotics team operates in an innovative and exciting workspace from creation of ideas to deployment in the field.


We are seeking an extraordinary candidate to help us lead development for our next ambitious project: protecting the arctic from environmental damage with an AUV capable of detecting and mapping out oil spills under ice. We are searching for an Electrical Engineer for an Engineer II or Research Engineer position in the Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department.  


This position is an Electrical Engineering position with emphasis on analog and system design.  Embedded software and microcontroller skills are a plus.  Candidates will need to be able to work broadly in computing, analog and digital circuitry, timing, imaging, DC power, A/D systems, general communications, wiring and cabling, and other fields as needed.  The overall position tasks are split between design tasks, lab testing, and system integration workflows and fieldwork.  This position also includes participating in and leading at-sea operations of AUV’s in support of multiple programs.  The successful candidate will have proven leadership skills necessary to lead a team of technicians and engineers through a design project or field cruise.  Excellent writing and communication skills for both team collaboration and publishing reports, papers and proposal writing are a must.  Members of this team all spend time both in the office/lab and in the field.



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

Both Engineer II and Research Engineer need to comfortably perform the following functions:

  • Multiscale system engineering including simple sensor and data acquisition circuits, power supplies and motor controls, functional subsystems, sensor payloads, vehicle control systems, and integrated communication, command and control networks.
  • Utilize electrical design tools such as Orcad to create and modify electrical schematics, wiring diagrams and block diagrams.
  • Design for manufacturability, design for test, design for serviceability, design for cost, while meeting agreed performance targets.
  • Approve, release and archive finished drawings. Use Product Data Management tools to track dependencies and maintain versions and BOMs for complex systems such as AUVs.
  • Prepare designs for production and work with fabricators, assemblers, machine shops and finishing houses to create complete products.
  • Integrate mechanical and electrical systems. Use solid modeling tools such as Solidworks to design pressure housings, instrument cages, underwater vehicle propulsion and related items from a variety of different materials.
  • Prepare systems for laboratory and dockside testing. Incrementally test and document results.
  • Use existing data analysis tools or create new tools in Python or a high-level language to aid in testing, calibration and verification of instruments.
  • Support operation and use of systems at sea and in the ice environments during cruises and field work (cruise time can vary from one to six weeks).
  • Contribute new concepts to the development of AUV systems and their applications.
  • Cost estimation for complex engineering systems.
  • Prepare technical documentation and field reports. 
  • Write proposals and articulate complex technical concepts to program managers as well as non-laymen people.
  • Implement electrical and mechanical systems in a marine environment.
  • Utilize Microsoft Office tools plus project management and team coordination software.

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.



  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Engineer II:

  • Bachelor's degree in engineering or appropriate field with 3-4 years of related experience or  Master's degree in a relevant Engineering or science environment.

Research Engineer:

  • Ph.D. in related engineering field, or Master's degree in an Engineering or appropriate field with several years of related experience, or Bachelor's degree in an Engineering or appropriate field with more than seven years of related experience.


Special Requirements

  • TWIC
  • Must be a US Citizen
  • Ability to aquire Security Clearance
  • Must have a valid driver's license
  • WHOI is a federal contractor required to comply with Executive Order 14042. As such, WHOI has enacted a Mandated COVID19 vaccination policy effective December 8, 2021 where you must register your vaccination status in order to begin your employment. The registration process entails confidentially submitting a vaccination card and/or your vaccination status 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


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.



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