Saildrone – Technical Operations Engineer

Canon Purdyjob board

Apply here.

About Us

At Saildrone, we sustainably explore, map, and monitor the oceans to understand, protect, and preserve our world. We provide real-time access to critical data from any ocean on earth, 24/7/365, and use proprietary software applications to transform that data into actionable insights and intelligence. Our fleet of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs), powered by renewable wind and solar power, have a minimal carbon footprint and operate without the need for a crewed support vessel. Saildrone works with governments, civil agencies, foundations, universities, and private companies around the globe to drive better information about our oceans and seas—from sailing into the eye of a category 4 hurricane to obtain new data about how storms intensify, collecting new CO2 data in hard-to-reach areas, and counting fish biomass to inform sustainable fishery management, to mapping the ocean floor and reducing illegal fishing and drug trafficking. As a result of our work, Saildrone has been included on Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, earned an Ocean Awards’ Innovation Award, won Best Tech For Good from the Timmy Awards, and was recognized by Andreessen Horowitz’s American Dynamism 50 list of the Top 50 Companies Kickstarting American Renewal. Our first-annual Atlantic hurricane mission with NOAA was included as one of The New York Times’ 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. Saildrone is 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 the 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 Technical Operations Engineer, you will be responsible for ensuring the technical outcome of the vehicles throughout their lifecycle by solving problems to support operations and production teams and improving the quality and reliability of the vehicles by facilitating faster product iteration and translating drone performance in the field into targeted design improvements.

You will fill a central role within the company and 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 top-to-bottom understanding of complex sensors and embedded systems as they relate to an entire, functioning system
  • 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
  • Help evaluate the effectiveness of those solutions and other engineering developments by supporting system integration testing
  • Provide on-call support to troubleshoot, diagnose and fix software, hardware, and networking issues on autonomous surface vehicles
  • Help support new sensor and system integration to streamline the handoff of new products and features from engineering to operations by embedding with design teams, producing documentation, and training your peers
  • 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

Required skills and experience

  • 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, and mechanical systems to identify a problem with a product, determine the cause, and execute an appropriate repair
  • Familiar with electrical, mechanical, and materials engineering concepts
  • Able to context switch quickly to respond to new and urgent issues
  • 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
  • Strong safety consciousness and the ability to use good judgment to assess and execute safe operations at home and in new and unfamiliar environments

Desired skills and experience

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

  • Experience in a field engineer, test engineer, operations engineering or integration/prototype engineering 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
  • Experience with network and message protocols (TCP/IP, HTTP, CAN, RS-485, RS-232, SPI, I2C, routing, ACLs)
  • Experience using APIs to interact with processes and components
  • Experience using industry-standard CAD tools (NX, Solidworks, Fusion 360, EAGLE, KiCad, Altium)
  • Experience leading and working in teams, including 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.)
  • Familiar with operations in a marine environment

Physical Requirements

  • Willingness to support 25% travel, domestically and internationally. Able to work on your feet and at heights. Able to lift and carry 50lbs.

Location: This position is in Alameda, CA. 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
A reasonable estimate of the current range is $110,000-$130,000 annually.

Apply here.