Mechanical Engineer and/or Naval Architect

Job ID
Location : Location
US-MA-Woods Hole

Job Summary

Job Summary

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is searching for a highly motivated and enthusiastic Mechanical-Engineer and/or Naval Architect with training and/or experience in Naval Architecture 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 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 imaging marine life.  OSL works with REMUS AUVs developed in OSL and equipment designed elsewhere expanding capabilities of the AUVs and the sensors employ in the ocean.    The OSL team operates in a creative and exciting workspace from development of ideas to deployment in the field within months.


The Mechanical-Engineer and/or Naval Architect will perform a wide range of design, modeling, and fabrication tasks related to AUVs and their subsystems. The position will include mechanical and systems engineering on high performance autonomous underwater vehicles, with a focus on analysis of performance, dynamics and, and detailed design of mechanical systems. This position includes participation in and leadership of at-sea operations of AUVs in support of multiple programs.  Excellent writing and communication skills are required for team collaboration, publishing reports and papers, and writing proposals.  Members of this team all spend time both in the office/lab and in the field.  They work in conjunction with frontline military platforms. Field operations occur locally and at remote sites to support science, exploration, disaster response, and military operations to do cutting edge research and development.  Previous missions have included locating black boxes and airplanes, locating shipwrecks, mapping unexplored parts of the ocean, mapping physical and biological phenomena and studying marine life.   Past project sponsors include NSF, NOAA, Office of Naval Research, DARPA, BSEE, Discovery Channel, NAVOCEANO, NUWC, foreign governments, philanthropic organizations, and corporations. 


The internal working title for this position will be Senior Engineer. 


Essential Functions


Essential Functions.

  • Experience designing and fabricating precision components using Solidworks to design mechanical components including pressure housings, chassis parts, instrument cages, underwater vehicle assemblies and related items from a variety of different materials.
  • Experience designing and analyzing structural components, including external pressure vessels, using first-principles and FEA.
  • Ability to perform analysis of underwater vehicles and appendages using Computational Fluid Dynamics.
  • Ability to perform thermal analyses of underwater vehicle mechanical systems.
  • Understanding of submerged vehicle hydrostatics and hydrodynamics and application to new vehicle design.
  • Understanding of design considerations and material selection for long-term operation in corrosive environments.
  • Execute reasonable design tasks within 6 months without extensive on the job training. Real design experience is a strong discriminator with proof of tangible work in the field.
  • Prepare and communicate designs for fabrication and work with suppliers, machine shops and finishing houses to create complete products.
  • Prepare systems for laboratory and dockside testing and be able to document resultsSupport operation and use of systems at sea, undersea, and in the ice environments during cruises and field work (cruise time can vary from one to six weeks).
  • Contribute new ideas to the development of AUV systems and their applications.
  • Cost estimation for mechanical components of complex engineering systems.
  • Support (Engineer I) and/or lead (Research Engineer) proposal efforts commensurate with qualified job grade.
  • Work experience in either an ocean, robotics, or defense related field is desired, but not essential.



  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Senior Engineer


With increased latitude for unreviewed activity and using a broad view of engineering technologies and their application to marine science, contributes substantially to the conception, organization, execution, management, and reporting of engineering significant technological projects.

A Senior Engineer is recognized within the Institution as an authority in his/her field of specialization or in management of complex projects.


Characteristic Duties:

  • Develops major portions of electronic/mechanical systems without supervision
  • Fulfills all the characteristic duties appropriate to a Research Engineer but with a broader view of engineering technologies and their applications to marine science, particularly in the role of a group or project leader
  • Exercises substantial creativity, motivation, and independence in engineering project development
  • May serve as a principal investigator, with full responsibility for proposal preparation, grant financial and management oversight, and the supervision of the staff necessary to support the grant activities
  • Produces research findings for publication and/or reports to funding agencies


Desired Qualifications:
Appropriate academic 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.


Special Requirements

  • Due to sensitivity of the work, candidates must be a US Citizen
  • Must be capable of getting a US Security Clearance
  • Must have valid driver's license

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


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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