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Field Engineer

Engineering | Alameda, CA | Full Time

Job Description

About Us

At Saildrone, we sustainably explore, map, and monitor the oceans to understand, preserve, and protect our world. Saildrone provides real-time access to critical data from any ocean on earth, 24/7/365, and uses proprietary software applications to transform that data into actionable insights and intelligence. Saildrone’s fleet of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs), powered by renewable wind and solar power, have a minimal carbon footprint and operate 24/7/365, without the need for a crewed support vehicle. We work with governments, civil agencies, foundations, universities, and private companies around the globe to drive better information about our oceans and seas—from sailing drones into the eye of a Category 4 hurricane to obtain new scientific storm data, mapping the ocean floor, collecting new CO2 data in hard-to-reach areas, counting biomass to establish fishing quotas, or detecting and stopping illegal fishing and drug trafficking. As a result of our work, we have been included on Fast Company’s annual list of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2022” and earned the 2022 Ocean Awards’ Innovation Award, presented by the Blue Marine Foundation. Saildrone’s hurricane mission was included as one of the New York Times "Top 21 Things that happened (for the first time) in 2021", and Popular Science's "100 Greatest Innovations of 2021".

We are based in Alameda, CA, with offices in Washington DC, St. Petersburg, FL, and Fall River, MA, and operate our missions worldwide. We are backed by top-tier investors in the frontier-tech and sustainability sectors, including Social Capital, Capricorn, Lux Capital, BOND Capital, and Emerson Collective.

This is an exciting opportunity with a fast-growing team at the cutting-edge intersection of big data services and autonomous hardware. You will be an integral part of a high-performing multi-disciplinary delivering high impact for humanity and future generations.


The Role

Saildrone's autonomous surface vehicles operate for unprecedented periods of time in the most unforgiving environments on the planet. From inside of hurricanes to the frigid waters of the Arctic, the stresses they endure are immense. The technical execution of preparing the vehicles for their mission and rigorous root cause analysis must be performed with a high degree of skill and consistency. As a Field Engineer, you will be responsible for two things: solving problems to support operations and production teams and facilitating faster product iteration by translating drone performance in the field into targeted design improvements.

You will collaborate with a variety of teams in engineering, operations, and production. You will apply technical expertise to ensure operational excellence across our product line. You will need to develop and execute operational plans to sustain and improve Saildrone's systems at scale.  You will translate messy, real world data into actionable product and process improvements.

What You'll Do

  • Develop a detailed understanding of complex sensors and embedded systems

  • Provide internal customer service to supported production and operations teams to quickly resolve any technical issues they experience

  • Build trust with cross-functional teams and lead root cause analysis to identify areas for improvement

  • Propose and implement solutions for issues, processes, and system architecture

  • Troubleshoot, diagnose, and fix software, hardware, and networking issues on autonomous surface vehicles

  • Participate in on-call rotations for high impact, high priority issue resolution

  • Travel to locations all over the world to help ready and deploy drones for their missions

What We're Looking For

A superstar in this role will be highly motivated by and skilled in the following areas:

  • Love to solve novel and exciting problems that arise in hardware, software, and networking

  • Gratified by helping your peers succeed

  • Instinct for improving process and workflows to reduce variation within a system

  • Not satisfied by superficial explanations of a problem. Able to find the specific root cause so it can be mitigated to prevent future instances

  • Comfortable digging through metrics, logs, and whatever else is available to triage and fix an incident

  • Break down information silos by collaborating with others to solve problems, share knowledge, and provide feedback

  • Can self-assess the needs of a system or team, and can be persuasive about the priority of the most important work

Required Skills

Skills that are necessary to executing the core functions of this role are listed below.

  • At least two years of professional experience performing post-manufacture servicing of complex embedded systems or consumer products

  • Willing and able to travel domestically and internationally as well as work extended hours when necessary

  • Ability to independently apply knowledge of electrical diagrams/schematics, mechanical systems to identify a problem with a product, determine the cause, and execute an appropriate repair

  • Comfortable obtaining data and diagnosing issues from software and networking platforms using command-line tools on a Linux OS.

  • Able to write and understand basic shell scripts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of performing various diagnostic- and test-related tasks. 

  • Maintain appropriate records and inventories. Possess organizational habits and a willingness to define, follow, and improve process and work standards.

  • Strong people skills and an ability to work with a wide variety of teams as a leader, and a follower

Preferred Skills

Here's a list of specific skills where prior knowledge and experience would lend itself to high performance:

  • Prior experience in a field engineer, test engineer, or integration/prototype engineering technician role

  • Experience working within service-level objectives (SLI, SLO, SLA, Error Budget, Burn Rate)

  • Experience applying concepts of continuous improvement and root cause analysis to scale operations within a start-up environment

  • Network and message protocols (TCP/IP, HTTP, CAN bus, triaging, packet loss, routing, ACLs)

  • Navigate industry-standard CAD tools (Altium, NX, Solidworks)

  • Experience leading and working in teams, to include third-party contractors, to execute operational plans and deliver on contractual obligations in a field environment, on time and within budget.

  • Able to write clear documentation, process standards, procedures, and work instructions to aid supported teams.

  • Familiar with industry standard project management tools (Jira, Confluence, Asana, Monday, etc.)


Location: This position is in Alameda, CA. Only candidates with proper permits to work in the United States can be considered.  Our waterfront office offers beautiful views of San Francisco Bay in always sunny Alameda. Even our walls have good karma, our offices mix software development with a hardware production line in the former airplane hangar used to film 'The Matrix'.


  • Medical, dental and vision plans for you and your dependents.

  • Short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building for SF residents

  • Enhanced Parental Leave Programs

  • Competitive benefits including excellent medical, life insurance, 401k plan


Catch up on the latest news about us:

An Unprecedented View Inside a Hurricane – EOS (May 6, 2022)

Meet the sailing robots trying to solve climate change – The Hill (Mar. 18, 2022)

They Sailed Into a Hurricane, Now these Unmanned Saildrones are Seeking Data on Our Carbon Uptake – CNN (Dec. 9, 2021)

Saildrone Catches a $100M C Breeze to Build More Robo-boats – TechCrunch (Oct. 18, 2021)

With A Sight, Sound And Radar Picture, Saildrone Could Build An AI Database Of Everything In The Ocean – Forbes (Aug. 16, 2021)

Changing Arctic Environment Could Also Change Technologies Needed to Protect It, Experts Say – SeaPower Magazine (Aug. 2, 2021)

Autonomous Research Vehicle Completes Ocean Crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii – Hydro International (July 13, 2021)

Saildrone Featured Videos Playlist


We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.


In accordance with Saildrone’s mandatory employee COVID-19 vaccination policy, please be advised that all employees are required to be vaccinated and boosted to safeguard the health of our employees and their families, our customers and visitors and the community at large.


Any unsolicited resumes/candidate profiles submitted through our website or to personal email accounts of employees of Saildrone are considered property of Saildrone and are not subject to payment of agency fees.