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Reliability 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 designs and manufactures wind and solar powered autonomous surface vehicles called Saildrones, which make cost-effective ocean data collection possible at scale. We work with governments, civic agencies, foundations, universities, and private companies around the globe to drive better information about our oceans and seas - be it in sailing drones into the eye of a Category 4 hurricane to obtain new scientific storm data, mapping out 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 selected as one of the "Forbes Top 10 Wonders of 2021", as well as the Smithsonian Institute's "Top 10 Ocean Stories of 2021", 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 and St. Petersburg, FL 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, they endure immense stresses. We must evaluate design proposals, validate prototypes, and test vehicles in the field with skill and consistency. We must expose the risks we are building into our vehicles and mitigate them to the greatest extent possible. As a Reliability Engineer, your responsibility is to proactively find and retire these risks.

You will collaborate with both development and production teams as you help ensure we design and build reliability into all of our components. You will apply data, technical expertise, and sound judgement to ensure our product line reliably delivers value to our clients. You will translate messy, real world data into targeted design improvements.

What You'll Do

  • Executing reliability engineering across each vehicle component's life-cycle by performing design failure mode and effects analysis (DFMEA) and following through on data-driven risk mitigation.

  • Review functional and reliability requirements of components to plan performance and accelerated life tests that evaluate compliance with stated requirements. Propose system requirements to test against where industry standards don't exist or aren't appropriate for Saildrone's use case.

  • Work with Saildrone's design and test engineers along with third-party vendors to develop and execute reliability test and verification plans on systems and subsystems, including complex scientific/oceanographic sensors.

  • Model field data and compare it to testing data. Employ test data analysis and collaborate with design engineers to resolve risks detected in testing and in the field.

  • Procure and assemble test fixtures to reduce the need for human intervention during the tests. Modify/develop the SW scripts necessary to run automated tests that cover the required subset of the system operational profile.

What We're Looking For

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

  • Deep understanding of statistics, reliability mathematics, and industry standards along with technical skill set to execute on that understanding.

  • Able to transition seamlessly between collaborative and independent work and know when each is appropriate to drive projects to conclusion in the most effective and efficient manner.

  • Disciplined and methodical in your approach, yet creative and thoughtful when you encounter ambiguity or a lack of industry standards.

  • Question designs and their requirements using data, first principles, and sound judgement. Ask the right questions at the right time and make decisions that position client outcomes as a top priority.

Required Skills

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

  • Direct experience executing projects involving accelerated/ highly accelerated life test design and analysis by incorporating both internal and third-party tooling.

  • Ability to implement data acquisition tools and techniques for measuring standard electrical and physical phenomena (e.g. voltage, current, temperature, humidity, torque, etc.), as well as less common phenomena like electromagnetic interference, corrosion, and sound.

  • Able to assess CAD drawings or wiring schematics to orient on potential failure points and execute tests to validate your hypotheses.

  • Research skills to find relevant and appropriate specifications, test methodologies, and vendor partners. 

  • Manipulation of data and gleaning critical insights to drive design decisions (SQL, python, Excel)

  • Experience designing test fixtures and programming test scripts on a Linux OS (C, C++, Matlab)

Preferred Skills

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

  • BS degree in reliability engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, industrial engineering or a related field.

  • Two or more years of professional experience in reliability engineering using DFR and FEA tools.

  • Experience working in industries where complex embedded systems are expected to operate in harsh environments with a high degree of reliability (aerospace, automotive, space, defense technology, medical).

  • Ability to aid in developing performance requirements where ambiguity exists in industry standards. There aren't many formal requirements for autonomous maritime surface vehicles, so this role is an opportunity to blaze a trail in that regard.


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 paternity / maternity programs

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


Catch up on the latest news about us:


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.