Software Engineer – WHOI

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is searching for a highly motivated and enthusiastic Software 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’s leaders 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, filming megafauna.  OSL works with REMUS AUVs developed at WHOI and equipment designed elsewhere expanding capabilities of the AUVs and the sensors they carry.    The OSL team operates in a creative and exciting workspace from creation of ideas to deployment in the field.

This position is a software development role in marine robotics with simulation and field testing responsibilities.  The successful candidate will have strong test methodology, implemented by scripting and C++ development, with excellent software engineering habits, and a solid background in software testing, configuration management and development operations. This position works creatively with limited supervision to establish objectives, meet deadlines, and complete difficult engineering assignments by demonstrating full competency in software engineering and testing; assists substantively in developing technical aspects of software and software tests, as well as design, testing, and use of major system components, with little supervision.  Members of this team all spend time both in the office, laboratory and in the field.  Field operations occur locally and at remote sites to support science, exploration, disaster response, and military research and development.  Previous missions have included oil spill response, locating black boxes and airplanes, locating shipwrecks, mapping unexplored parts of the ocean, mapping physical and biological phenomena and studying sharks and sea turtles.   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 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 & experience. 

Essential Functions

Engineer I

  • This is an entry level position designed to encourage the connection and application of academic training to results-oriented projects in support of scientific and research activities. Initially this position will have direct supervision to achieve structured and assigned objectives.
  • Applies basic research principles and standard laboratory instrumentation to engineering design efforts;
  • Tests designs, calibrates instrumentation, troubleshoots mechanical/electronic systems;
  • Develops computer code, microprocessor code, and uses CAD, CAE tools;
  • Participates in report writing to document instrumentation developments and tests;
  • Develops basic practical engineering skills to enhance technical competence and versatility.
  • Develops AUV software build and test environments for internal use
  • Develops AUV controller software in C++
  • Manages AUV Software and System configurations for a growing fleet of diverse AUVs
  • Evaluates AUV performance from system telemetry and engineering data logs
  • Tests AUV software in simulation, lab, and sea environments
  • Tests AUV systems at sea
  • Travels, as much as 12 weeks per year, to support tests and demonstrations

Engineer II – Demonstrate all the essential functions of an Engineer I as well as the following:

  • 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.
  • 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.


  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

Education & Experience

Engineer I: 

  • Bachelor’s degree in software, electrical, or robotics engineering, computer science, or related with minimal experience. In the absence of a formal degree, evidence of equivalent work experience is required
  • Excellent writing and communication skills are required for team collaboration in publishing reports and papers, and writing proposals. 

Engineer II:  

  • Master’s degree in software, electrical, or robotics engineering, computer science, or related with minimal experience, or a Bachelor’s degree in software, electrical, or robotics engineering, computer science, or equivalent with four (4) plus years of relevant experience. In the absence of a formal degree, considerable equivalent work experience is required.
  • An Engineer II will have demonstrated initial competence in one or more areas of engineering. The opportunity exists for assumption of increased technical and/or managerial responsibilities based on the continued development of expertise. 
  • Candidates should develop a mastery of specialized techniques or ingenuity and creativity in selecting and evaluating approaches to problems. They should develop the ability to apply an analytical approach to solutions and to assimilate the details and significance of various analyses, procedures, and tests prior to being considered for promotion.
  • Excellent writing and communication skills are required for team collaboration in publishing reports and papers, and writing proposals. 

Special Requirements

  • Must be a US Citizen
  • Ability to obtain or renew Security Clearance is required
  • 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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