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R&D Technician

Hardware 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

We are seeking an R&D technician to support our electrical and mechanical engineering teams. You'll often be the first person to put together and try out the first prototypes of electromechanical assemblies, build prototype harnesses to test out architecture changes, make repairs to vessels or subassemblies, and rework circuit boards to try out changes. You will also be the lab manager for R&D activities, buying and maintaining tools as well as reinforcing best practices for organization and tidiness.

This is a highly hands-on position that directly impacts our ability to rapidly iterate on hardware design. You’ll be part of a small team of talented folks who are excited to send robots into some of the harshest environments on Earth. You'll need strong manual skills, physical intuition, and communication skills.


  • Assemble and test early prototypes of new electromechanical subsystems with guidance from the responsible engineers

  • Perform requested rework on electronics

  • Create cable harnesses (including RF components)

  • Fit and remove subassemblies from boats, usually out of the water

  • Assist with the setup and handle the execution of tests

  • Manage assembly and rework areas

Required skills and experience 

  • 3+ years of experience doing electronic assembly and rework

  • Strong oral communication skills and good reading comprehension

  • Broad soldering skills including placing and replacing passives down to 0201, removing and replacing BGA components, cutting and lifting traces or pins to alter circuit topology, manipulating and adding fine rework wire

  • Wire harness skills including crimping pins and sockets to wire and assemble into connectors, applying braid, convolute, and heatshrink, applying and install ferrules and utilize punch-down terminals

  • Proficiency with basic electrical test equipment including being fully capable with multimeter, some capability with oscilloscope, and willingness to learn how to use a network analyzer

  • Comfort with mechanical tools and their usage

  • Degree in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering, related field or equivalent field experience


Desired skills and experience

  • Ability to operate RF test equipment such as a spectrum analyzers, low noise amplifiers, and a 4-port network analyzer

  • Proficiency with mill and lathe

  • Basic understanding of tolerances and mechanical measurement tools

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.

Individuals who require employer sponsorship to remain employed in the United States now or in the future will not be considered for hire for certain positions.

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.