University of Washington
Seattle, WA

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Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution
INSTRUMENTATION AND DEVELOPMENT ENGINEER Req #:200513Department:APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORYJob Location: Seattle Campus Posting Date:12/14/2021 Closing Info:Open Until Filled Salary:Salary is commensurate with experience and education. Shift:First Shift Notes:As a UW employee, you will enjoy generous benefits and work/life programs. For detailed information on Benefits for this position, click here. As a UW employee, you have a unique opportunity to change lives on our campuses, in our state and around the world. UW employees offer their boundless energy, creative problem solving skills and dedication to build stronger minds and a healthier world.

UW faculty and staff also enjoy outstanding benefits, professional growth opportunities and unique resources in an environment noted for diversity, intellectual excitement, artistic pursuits and natural beauty.

The Ocean Physics team at the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington is hiring – see yourself at APL!

The Applied Physics Laboratory is a research unit at the University of Washington. Our research expertise is in ocean physics and engineering, ocean and medical acoustics, polar science, environmental remote sensing, and signal processing. We conduct research and development that is sponsored by a variety of federal and state agencies, and take great pride in our long-standing status as a US Navy-designated University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). Our work takes place not only on the University of Washington campus and medical centers, but in field locations around the world – at sea, in the air, and on polar ice caps. We apply rigorous scientific inquiry and engineering excellence in pursuit of solutions to important problems for the good of our region, nation, and world.

Diversity is a core value at University of Washington and the Applied Physics Laboratory shares this commitment. We are focused on building and sustaining an inclusive and equitable research environment for all students, staff, and collaborators. We believe every member on our team enriches our community by exposing us to a broad range of ways to understand and engage with the world, identify challenges, and to discover, design and deliver solutions.

The Applied Physics Laboratory seeks an Instrumentation and Development Engineer to support oceanographic research programs. This position will provide direct engineering and technical support for research activities in the Ocean Physics Department of the Applied Physics Laboratory. This position will use novel observational platforms to collect innovative measurements in challenging environments to understand fundamental dynamical processes of importance to ocean circulation, air-sea interaction, and climate. This position will also be responsible for operating, repairing, maintaining, testing and calibrating equipment used in research such as: CTDs, microstructure sensors, underwater cables, winches and custom electric-field measurement systems.

We are looking to hire for several fulltime positions from this recruitment.

The research and design skills required for this position are highly specialized. This position requires the Instrumentation and Development Engineer to make design decisions and choose materials that are unique to oceanographic research. This position will assist in designing and constructing custom oceanographic instrument systems such as: towed underwater platforms, moored research platforms, bottom-mounted test instrument frames and free ranging autonomous instruments. Some of the design work will center on creating systems for the instrument deployment and recovery phase of the research project.

The position requires an ability to make independent judgments under difficult conditions. The nature of the research requires hands-on laboratory work. Some research may require the Instrumentation and Development Engineer to work in physical isolation for extended periods. Accurate and effective communications are required.


The person selected will work with principal investigators and independently to ensure the success of observational oceanographic experiments, from initial instrument and sensor design and fabrication, through field work planning and execution. Field efforts may use autonomous vehicles (Lagrangian and profiling floats, gliders, wave gliders), moorings, or ship-towed or lowered instruments throughout the global (tropical, sub-tropical, sub-arctic, and ice-covered) oceans.

Instrument Design and Fabrication:
Support multiple projects by independently designing, building and modifying oceanographic instruments: selecting materials, ordering parts, coordinating fabrication stages, and assembling mechanical and electronic systems. Conceive and develop technical improvements to existing and new instrumentation and procedures. Assess the feasibility of proposed methods and tests for instrument preparation.

Field Work Preparation and Support:
Oversee field work preparation and execution, including instrument prep and calibration, equipment and supplies purchasing and shipping, and logistical coordination with shipping agents (including: shipment of equipment to remote locations, obtaining lodging, communications, and sourcing supplies), research vessel personnel, and field team. Take responsibility for safe and effective operation of complex experimental equipment. This requires knowledge and experience for rigging heavy equipment for deployment and recovery from a moving vessel. Responsible for identifying problems with the research equipment or methods and design solutions. This may include rapid fabrication of rigging, waterproof cable assemblies and on-the-spot repairs of custom instrumentation. Monitor engineering data quality and content for detection of sensor damage and design weakness. Assist in all aspects of data collection, including: instrument calibration, computer data acquisition, remote support of research operations, and record keeping. Follow up field efforts with instrument repair, refurbishment, re-calibration, and preparation for short or long-term storage.

Personnel Management/Education/Mentoring:
Lead and mentor field engineers, junior engineers, and lab staff, as needed.

Laboratory Management:
Management of physical assets (equipment and infrastructure) for multiple investigators in the Ocean Physics Department. Design, implement, and document safety procedures and hazardous materials storage. Maintain safety standards whether operating from shore or on the water.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Oceanography, or a related field and at least 4-5 years of experience in oceanographic research instrumentation or an equivalent combination of education and experience from which comparable knowledge and ability can be acquired.
  • Must be physically capable of working for extended periods.
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision, and as part of a research team, with people from diverse backgrounds, academic levels, and nationalities.
  • Experience with fabrication of new instruments and sensors.
  • Experience in managing safety and security of equipment and personnel.

    Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications except when there are legal requirements, such as a license/certification/registration.


  • Experience in shipping and transportation of oceanographic equipment including HAZMAT items.
  • Experience in managing safety and security of project equipment and personnel within a laboratory environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to independently evaluate, select, and apply potentially conflicting design requirements, unavailability of materials or processes, and other unforeseen challenges to research and development tasks.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop extensions to existing methods and protocols.
  • Recognized for technical contributions by external peer network.


    May be subject to successful completion of E-Verify process.

    Application Process:
    The application process for UW positions may include completion of a variety of online assessments to obtain additional information that will be used in the evaluation process. These assessments may include Work Authorization, Cover Letter and/or others. Any assessments that you need to complete will appear on your screen as soon as you select “Apply to this position”. Once you begin an assessment, it must be completed at that time; if you do not complete the assessment you will be prompted to do so the next time you access your “My Jobs” page. If you select to take it later, it will appear on your "My Jobs" page to take when you are ready. Please note that your application will not be reviewed, and you will not be considered for this position until all required assessments have been completed.

  • Applicants considered for this position will be required to disclose if they are the subject of any substantiated findings or current investigations related to sexual misconduct at their current employment and past employment. Disclosure is required under Washington state law.

    Committed to attracting and retaining a diverse staff, the University of Washington will honor your experiences, perspectives and unique identity. Together, our community strives to create and maintain working and learning environments that are inclusive, equitable and welcoming.

    The University of Washington is a leader in environmental stewardship & sustainability, and committed to becoming climate neutral. The University of Washington is a leader in environmental stewardship & sustainability, and committed to becoming climate neutral.

    The University of Washington is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information.

    To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact the Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450 or [email protected].


    Governor Inslee's Proclamation 21-14.2 requires employees of higher education and healthcare institutions to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless a medical or religious exemption is approved. Being fully vaccinated means that an individual is at least two weeks past their final dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine regimen. As a condition of employment, newly hired employees will be required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination. View the Final candidate guide to COVID-19 vaccination requirement webpage for information about the medical or religious exemption process for final candidates.

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