R&D Engineer

Palo Alto, CA /
Special Projects – Special Projects /
Here at Kittyhawk in Palo Alto, we are developing ground breaking all-electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft.  Our Special Projects group is working on the future of electric flight and you will be part of a small team that is focused on iterating quickly.  

We are seeking an R&D engineer for Kitty Hawk’s yet-to-be-announced project in environmentally friendly aviation. Our team is focused on rapidly iterating novel concept aircraft that radically change the way we think about flight efficiency. 

You should enjoy working on a small team where you will own substantial and critical parts of the final product. You’re a team player without an ego, and you’re passionate about doing whatever it takes to deliver value. We are working on something that has never been done before, so you’ll be energetic, adaptable, and a fast learner who can make quick design judgments with limited information. As a founding member of this group, you will also play a crucial role in growing the team to meet the continuously evolving challenges of this ambitious project.


    • M.S. in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, or related degree, or 2+ years relevant work experience
    • Expertise in one of the following: power electronics, thermodynamics, composite structures, and/or materials & process engineering
    • Proficient with rapid prototyping materials, tools, and techniques
    • Excited to work in a fast-paced, dynamic, and highly-interactive startup environment
    • Ability to be hands-on with good physical intuition of aeromechanical vehicles


    • Experience working in an R&D prototype aircraft development environment
    • Familiarity with small-volume manufacturing technologies and methods, and experience working with outside suppliers for the same
    • Experience with manual and CNC machining (mill, lathe, bandsaws, welding)
    • Composite fabrication and assembly experience
    • Aviation and/or flight related hobbies or pursuits
    • Proficient in 3D modeling using SolidWorks or an equivalent CAD system

Within 3 months you will:

    • Help fabricate a prototype small-scale concept aircraft
    • Take ownership of the design, fabrication, and testing of prototype aircraft parts
    • Develop internal design tools to inform future prototype aircraft concept

Within 6 months you will:

    • Take ownership of aircraft subsystems
    • Plan and execute flight test operations
    • Help guide high-level design discussions for our current and future aircraft
As part of the interview process, you will be expected to present a portfolio of relevant projects, describe specific design contributions that you are most proud of, and effectively convey to the team a relevant topic that is of interest to you.

We welcome you to apply even if you don’t match every requirement posted for this role.  No one candidate will be a 100% perfect match to our description, so if you are passionate about working on the next evolution in aviation and have similar experience to what we are looking for, we encourage you to apply.  Diverse backgrounds and experiences promote innovation and our goal is to build a team that encompasses a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

Please note that as of August 15, 2021, all persons working on Kittyhawk company premises must provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Applicants may seek an exception through the reasonable accommodation process.

Our headquarters is in Palo Alto and we offer a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, unlimited PTO days, 10 company holidays, a 401(k) plan with 40% company matching (no vesting period), flight lesson subsidy, education assistance, and company-sponsored social events. For those working onsite, Kittyhawk also offers commuter assistance, and free drinks and snacks.

Kittyhawk provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Kittyhawk abides by applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

Kittyhawk is an E-Verify employer.