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Machine Shop Lead

Engineering | Alameda, CA | Full Time

Job Description

About Saildrone

Saildrone designs and manufactures wind and solar-powered autonomous surface vehicles called Saildrones, which make cost-effective ocean data collection possible at scale. We are building the world's largest high-resolution ocean datasets, working with governments and private companies around the globe. We believe that better inputs in planetary models, in turn, yield better outputs and that the new insights gained in weather forecasting, carbon cycling, global fishing, and climate change will have tremendous impact on humanity. We are based in Alameda, CA and are backed by Social Capital, The Capricorn Investment Group, Lux Capital and The Schmidt Family Foundation.

About The Role

In order to facilitate the Saildrone’s in-house machining needs for prototyping and production, we are seeking a full-time Machinist / Machine Shop lead. The ideal candidate will not only be able to operate/quickly learn most of the machinery we have, but they will also be able to manage a small group of operators to run the machines.


We are seeking a critical thinker.  We don’t want a machinist who sees themselves as a crank-turner. We want someone to work alongside our engineers to prototype and refine parts for machinability and scalability. Candidates should be capable of designing creative strategies to hold parts for inexpensive and fast one-off and production setups.

The ideal candidate must be willing to take initiative to ask questions when necessary. Saildrone has a culture of working fast, especially with R&D projects. We are seeking a candidate to take ownership of the machine shop and manage requests from multiple departments.



  • Previous shop management experience
  • Experience in an R&D / job-shop environment
  • Routine maintenance and repairs on shop tools and machines
  • Will be responsible for the safety of the machine shop
  • Will be responsible for the quality of products produced by the machine shop


  • 5-10 yrs of experience
  • Ability to set up and run a 3-axis CNC vertical milling machine (specifically a Doosan model DMN5700 w/ Fanuc I-series Control),
  • Working knowledge of G-code programming
  • Programming parts in CAM Software (HSMWorks or MasterCAM)
  • Good understanding of GD&T and ability to read technical drawings
  • Ability to use a manual mill and lathe to quickly create one-off parts and simple production parts

Additional Desired Skills 

  • Experience using a water jet (OMAX)
  • Experience using a ply cutter (Eastman)
  • TIG, MIG, Oxyacetylene welding and brazing
  • Competent with using a press brake
  • Ability to navigate and model simple parts/setups in CAD


As part of the interview process, candidates will be asked to complete a comprehensive skills test.  Given a technical drawing, they will be asked (1) to program the part in CAM software to demonstrate CNC competency and (2) to machine the part on manual machinery to demonstrate manual competency.


  • Medical, dental and vision plans for you and your dependents
  • Healthy lunch program provided onsite
  • Active sailing classes: become a certified skipper on boats up to 35ft!
  • Fun team activities including our famous monthly social taxiway BBQ
  • Waterfront office, a former airplane hangar that was once used to film 'The Matrix'
  • A short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building for SF residents
  • Enhanced paternity/maternity programs
  • Competitive benefits including discounted gym, life insurance, 401k plan

This is an exciting new opportunity to drive your function at a fast-growing post-series-B startup at the cutting edge intersection of big data services and autonomous hardware. You will be an integral part of an A+ multi-disciplinary team scaling a high-performance business while delivering high impact for humanity and future generations.

Our waterfront office offers beautiful views over San Francisco Bay in always sunny Alameda. Your commute could be a short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building. Even our walls have good karma, our offices mixing software development with a hardware production line in the former airplane hangar that was once used to film 'The Matrix'.

You can read what the press says about us:

Popular Mechanics: The New Ocean Explorers

Bloomberg Businessweek: Saildrone’s Journey Around Antarctica Uncovers New Climate Clues

NOAA: Detecting Fish from Ocean-Going Robots to Complement Ship-Based Surveys

Chemical & Engineering News: How robots are revolutionizing chemical oceanography (podcast)

New York Times: No Sailors Needed: Robot Sailboats Scour the Oceans for Data

Seattle Times: Saildrones Go Where Humans Can’t — or Don’t Want to — to Study the World’s Oceans

Or watch the Saildrone mission being presented the TED stage

Saildrone is an equal opportunity workplace dedicated to pursuing and hiring a diverse workforce.

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.