Engineering Assistant

Job ID
Location : Location
US-MA-Woods Hole

Job Summary

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is currently searching for a vehicle technician and operator to join the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Coastal and Global Scale Nodes (CGN) team. This is a half-time, non-exempt position, and is eligible for benefits.


The successful candidate will assist in field and laboratory operations of the Ocean Observatories Initiative’s (OOI) mobile infrastructure, primarily the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) fleet consisting of long- and short-endurance autonomous platforms (Slocum gliders, REMUS 600 AUVs), and the ROV fleet (Falcon ROV).  Vehicles are equipped with an array of scientific instruments to transmit near real time oceanographic data for distribution to the scientific community.


The internal working title for this position is Engineering Assistant III or Senior Engineering Assistant I.  The final level of the position will be determined commensurate with the selected candidate's level of education and experience.



Engineering Assistant III:

With little supervision, applies a broad knowledge of established procedures to the assembly, testing, or calibration of equipment developed and used in support of engineering projects related to oceanographic instrumentation.


Senior Engineering Assistant I:

With minimum supervision, applies experience and comprehensive understanding of related procedures and equipment to complex assignments in support of oceanographic engineering projects or facilities.


Essential Functions


  • Integration of electrical and mechanical sub-assemblies, ballasting, and functional testing of all autonomous and remotely operated platform.
  • Configuration and testing, including pre-deployment characterization, of installed sensors and data collection systems.
  • Participate in and/or lead the deployment and recovery of autonomous platforms, including gliders, REMUS AUVs and ROVs while at sea, following all requisite operational and safety procedures.
  • Conduct post-deployment assessment and refurbishment of vehicles, sub-assemblies, and instruments.
  • Evaluate and troubleshoot vehicles and instruments in the lab and at sea.
  • Download vehicle and instrument data, archive, and post-process for downstream delivery to the OOI CyberInfrastructure.
  • Assist in tasks associated with refurbishing, preparing, testing, deploying, operating, and recovering autonomous platforms.
  • Assist in maintaining the asset management system to keep track of components and equipment.
  • Assist with remote piloting and operational support for glider pilots, AUV and ROV operators, and other OOI CGSN staff, as needed, on shore or during cruise operation.


  • Support fixed-platform and instrument maintenance as needed.
  • Support the build of electro-mechanical assemblies.
  • Perform other related duties as deemed necessary by supervisor.

Education & Experience

Engineering Assistant III:

High School diploma or equivalent plus six years' mechanical or electronics experience, or Technical School training plus four years' practical experience, or two to three years' progress toward an engineering or related degree.


Senior Engineering Assistant I:

Considerable experience in specialized field; consistently exceptional performance and demonstrated record of reliable and timely task completion; invaluable long-term experience coupled with technical support of the highest quality.


Engineering Assistant III & Sr. Engineering Assistant I:

  • Experience with instruments, robotic vehicles, or related electro-mechanical assemblies.
  • Proficiency in the use of common tools used for integrating, testing, and troubleshooting electro-mechanical systems, including soldering, multimeters, or optical inspection.
  • Experience with ocean or atmospheric sensors, data collection, and data analysis is desirable but not required.
  • Proficiency in one or more computer languages such as Python is helpful but not required.
  • Proficiency in Windows, Mac, and Linux (Unix) operating systems.
  • Exposure to serial or network interfaces is desirable but not required.
  • Creativity and thoughtful solutions to never-seen-that-before problems.
  • Proficient with time management skills to meet deployment deadlines.
  • Ability to work independently, attentive to small details, and able to produce meticulous and informatively written documentation.
  • Ability to work professionally with a diversity of scientists, engineers, technicians, vessel crew, and vendors, and collaborate with multiple teams.
  • Experience at sea and willingness to travel, sometimes on short notice.


Special Requirements

  • Sea duty, most often consisting of a few days to a week, but occasionally trips of 30+ days
  • Must have a valid driver license and ability to obtain a TWIC card.

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 up to 40 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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