Embedded Systems Engineer

Job ID
Location : Location
US-MA-Woods Hole

Job Summary

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


OSL is a world leader in Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) technology and operation in many complex oceanographic environments.  Military and scientific applications of AUVs are supported by OSL including biologic and physical surveys, mapping, under-ice operations, environmental anomaly detection, and filming megafauna.  OSL works with REMUS AUVs developed at WHOI and equipment designed elsewhere, expanding capabilities of the AUVs and the sensors they support.  The OSL team operates in a creative and exciting workspace from creation of ideas to deployment in the field. OSL is where the REMUS family of vehicles originated. OSL continues to be a field leading underwater robotics group that solves some of the world’s most difficult problems for the Department of Defense, Science, and Industry.


OSL is recruiting qualified candidates for a position in electronic and software engineering in support of applied research and development in underwater robotics, communication, and navigation. The work will involve support of existing systems, electronic design and development of new systems, and troubleshooting at all levels.  Specifically, it will require support and development of electronic designs for embedded, microcontroller-based systems and their firmware, and of software for general purpose computers.  The position will also involve going to sea to support data collection and experimentation, and post-processing and analysis.


A successful candidate, 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 new developments, as well as design, testing, and use of major system components.


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


Essential Functions

Engineer II:

  • Conceptualizes solutions to engineering problems;
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Senior Engineer:

All qualifications of a Research Engineer, but with more experience and capability.



  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Engineering degree or other appropriate discipline with minimal work experience, or evidence of an established, specialized engineering skill gained through experience in the absence of a formal degree. (Candidates with a Bachelor's degree and minimal experience in an unrelated field will likely start on the Department Assistant ladder.)


Engineer II:

  • Bachelor's or Master’s degree in engineering or appropriate field with 3-5 years of relevant experience.

Research Engineer:

  • Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering or computer science with at least five to seven years of related experience, or Ph.D. or Master's degree in electrical engineering or computer science with several years of related experience.

Senior Engineer:

  • Masters degree or better in engineering or appropriate background enhanced by more than 10 years of specifically related experience.
  • All candidates must possess demonstrated excellence within a related field, i.e., a record of superior accomplishment-such as patents, publications, or documented instrumentation or systems--which provides objective evidence of original professional contributions and/or exceptional management skills.

Required skills for both position levels include:

  • Excellent working knowledge of C and/or C++, and several other programming languages, including one or more of: Python, Perl, Linux/Unix shell, or Matlab/Octave.
  • Electronic design skills, both analog and digital, including schematic-level design, Spice simulation, basic circuit board layout, and troubleshooting.
  • Experience with programming and debugging embedded systems.
  • Experience with CPLD/FPGAs and Verilog.

Other skills that are desirable include:

  • Experience working with oceanographic systems, including autonomous underwater vehicles.
  • Experience with version control within a team software development environment.
  • Experience with Linux operating system programming and administration.
  • Experience with Orcad design tools.
  • Experience with data analysis.
  • Experience with field experiment planning and execution.
  • Experience working at sea.

Special Requirements

This job involves generating and handling Controlled Unclassified Information and requires a SECRET security clearance, all candidates that apply MUST:

  • Must be US Citizen (applications that are not will not be considered)
  • Must qualify to get a TWIC
  • Must be capable of getting a US Security 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.



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