Electrical 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 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 recruiting qualified candidates for a position in electrical engineering in underwater robotics, communication, and navigation with a heavy emphasis on applied applications in the ocean. 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 some on the job training and supervision, works creatively to establish objectives, meet deadlines, and complete 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 candidate must be a self-starter that can take a task and make progress under a deadline.


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


Essential Functions and Responsibilities

Engineer I


  • Ideally would have co-operative work experience or project based experience with field robotics or related systems.
  • Tests designs, calibrates instrumentation, troubleshoots mechanical/electronic systems.
  • Develops firmware instrument computer code, microprocessor code, and uses CAD, CAE tools.
  • Can be assigned tasks to complete from more senior engineers at the board component level and be responsible for a system improvement.
  • Participates in report writing to document instrumentation developments and tests.
  • Develops basic practical engineering skills to enhance technical competence and versatility.

Engineer II

  • Conceptualizes solutions to engineering problems.
  • 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.
  • Develops, calibrates, and tests new designs and techniques.
  • Develops computer code, microprocessor code, and uses CAD, CAE tools and an advanced level.
  • Troubleshoots electronic/mechanical systems as a precursor to accelerated field testing.
  • Participates in report writing to document developments and tests. May single-author reports and articles.
  • May supervise other personnel.

Non-essential Functions:

  • As deemed necessary by supervisor.

Education & Experience

Engineer I:

  • Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering or appropriate field with related co-operative or project experience in robotics or a related field.

Engineer II:

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

Required skills for both position levels include:

  • Electrical component level experience with robotics applications.
  • Electronic design skills, both analog and digital, including schematic-level design, Spice simulation, basic circuit board layout, and troubleshooting.
  • Experience with programming and debugging electrical circuit board and/or embedded systems.
  • 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. 

Other skills that are desirable include:

  • Experience working with oceanographic systems, including autonomous underwater vehicles.
  • Experience with CPLD/FPGAs and Verilog.
  • Experience with serial communication including RS-232, RS-485, CAN bus.
  • Experience with advanced Li Ion battery design and DC power distribution.
  • Experience in underwater acoustic designs.
  • Experience with field experiment planning and execution.
  • Experience working at sea.

Special Requirements


  • Must be a US Citizen
  • Must qualify to get a TWIC
  • Must be capable of getting a US Security Clearance
  • Must have a valid driver's license.

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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