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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Mechanical Engineer in Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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

The Mechanical Engineer will perform a wide range of design and fabrication tasks related to AUVs and their subsystems. The position will include both mechanical and systems engineering, with a focus on analysis of AUV dynamics and system interfaces, detailed design of mechanical systems, and integration of multiple electrical subsystems, sensors and power sources. The position will require someone who can do design models concepts given requirements and produce high accuracy drawings ready for production with minimal supervision. The candidate should also be familiar with finite element analysis and ocean failure modes. This position includes participation in and leadership of at-sea operations of AUVs in support of multiple programs. The successful candidate with have proven leadership skills necessary to coordinate the activities of a team of technicians and engineers through a design project or field cruise. Experience with government defense related work and/or ocean vehicle / instrument work would be a strong discriminator. Hands on skill also a strong plus. 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. 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 would be Engineer II.

  • 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. Use solid modeling tools such as Solidworks to design mechanical components including pressure housings, chassis parts, instrument cages, underwater vehicle assemblies and related items from a variety of different materials.

  • Be able to turn solid works models into detailed, ready for production drawings that are with proper dimensions, tolerances, and labels.

  • Experience using finite element modeling, computational fluid dynamics modeling and other modeling tools to create and optimize design solutions.

  • Prepare designs for fabrication and work with suppliers, machine shops and finishing houses to create complete products.

  • Integrate mechanical and electrical systems, incrementally test and document results.

  • Prepare test plans and procedures.

  • Prepare systems for laboratory and dockside testing.

  • Support operation and use of systems at sea and in the ice environments during cruises and field work (cruise time can vary from one to six weeks).

  • Experience using PDM tools for tracking bills of materials and building complex systems such as AUVs.

  • Contribute new ideas to the development of AUV systems and their applications.

  • Cost estimation for complex engineering systems.

  • Support and/or lead proposal efforts.


  • As deemed necessary by supervisor

  • Master’s degree in mechanical engineering with two (2) years of work experience, bachelor’s degree with four (4) plus years of relevant experience, or 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 is required.

  • Must be a US Citizen

  • Must be capable of obtaining or retaining US Security Clearance

  • Must have a valid driver's license

  • 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 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.

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.

Job ID: 2021-1555

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Street: 266 Woods Hole Rd