Senior Hardware Engineer

Oakland, CA
Hardware /
Full-time /
About The Role
Yard Stick is looking for a Senior Hardware Engineer to help us combat climate change with soil.

Yard Stick designs and builds soil probes to measure carbon sequestration in cropping and grazing lands. Our probes are both high-precision optical instruments and ruggedized field tools, and we need you to help us design, build, and test them! We are a remote-first company with the hardware team onsite in Oakland, CA. You will work closely with our mechanical engineers and software team, and periodically join our field team for in-field testing on customer projects across the United States!

Our custom soil carbon probes are designed and built in-house. Our probes consist primarily of a ruggedized spectrometer and optical system which can penetrate up to 1 meter into the ground to collect data about the soil. That data is then uploaded to our cloud infrastructure where machine learning models translate it into soil carbon measurements. Our carbon estimates are only as good as the data we collect, so it is of utmost importance that our probes remain accurate and reliable throughout long sampling days in extreme field conditions! 

Our hardware team is still small and lean! This role will provide opportunities to work on a wide variety of projects, from writing software and firmware on the probe and production integration of sensors and electrical systems, to test fixture and calibration process design, to hands-on building and field testing of our hardware. You will be working with field, data, and soil science teams as well as our software, electrical, and mechanical engineers on the hardware team to accomplish these tasks. The ideal candidate will be able to own projects from requirements stage to implementation and data review with strong attention to detail and inter-team communication.

We currently deploy a handful of our soil probes per season for projects across tens of thousands of acres of agricultural lands. Our machine learning models have shown unprecedented accuracy in predicting soil carbon content as demonstrated by in-field tests, and are improving with every experiment. Our priority is now on designing and building production units of the probes and deploying them ASAP. Further hardware development aims at increasing the variety of land we can access and improving the accuracy and efficiency of the soil carbon measurement process, as well as making the probes able to take collections faster. This role will be critical in continuing the transition of our hardware from development to production-quality.

This role will report to Dalton Colen, Head of Hardware, and will be based out of our Oakland, CA hardware lab. Yard Stick is a remote-first company but this role will be required to work in-person with our hardware team at least three days a week. This is a dream job for someone who loves working hands-on with hardware, collecting and analyzing data, designing experiments and wants to join a rapidly-growing startup with literal planetary-scale impact. Travel to test sites 1-2x per year is encouraged to see the sampling process with the field team and ensure hardware runs smoothly. 

Applicants must be authorized to work for any employer in the U.S. Unfortunately we are unable to sponsor or take over sponsorship of an employment Visa at this time.

We’d like to hire this person to start ASAP. The role is full-time.

 About Yard Stick PBC
Yard Stick is a remote-first climate tech startup with cofounders based in Boston, MA and Oakland, CA. We are on a mission to reverse climate change with agriculture. Scientists and farmers alike know that climate-friendly agricultural practices have the potential to remove atmospheric CO2 at gigaton/year scale. When these practices are adopted, more carbon is stored in soils, improving soil health and fighting climate change. But significant measurement challenges have held soil carbon efforts back - until now.

By reducing the cost of soil carbon measurement by 70-90%, Yard Stick will dramatically expand the opportunities for evidence-based regenerative practices to simultaneously improve ecosystem health, increase farmer income, and combat climate change. 

Current soil carbon measurement technologies are slow, expensive, and cumbersome, relying on conventional soil cores and labs to quantify carbon stocks. In contrast, Yard Stick is fast and cheap - without sacrificing accuracy. As a testament to our technology’s potential, alongside our scientific collaborators, we were awarded $18M across six USDA Climate-Smart Commodities projects, and we have additional grant financing from ARPA-E, NSF, CDFA, and other discerning grant-makers. We’ve also raised another nearly $18M from top climate VCs, including Toyota Climate Venture Fund, Lowercarbon Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (Bill Gates’ climate fund), Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Extania, Pillar VC, MCJ Collective… the list goes on!

For more background, check out some coverage of Yard Stick in TechCrunch, Fast Company, and AgFunder.
We offer competitive salary and equity (benchmarked to 75th percentile of high-growth US tech compensation), health/dental/vision insurance, a 401k, and home-office reimbursements. We have many team members with young families and have a strong track record of creative, flexible approaches to hours and communication expectations which let folks feel great about their commitments both to Yard Stick and their lives outside of work. 

We’re also a PBC, or public benefit corporation, which is an alternative corporate structure which protects our ability to prioritize climate impact over profits if the two are in conflict. You can read more about PBCs in this article which also specifically features Yard Stick.


    • Structuring, writing, and validating firmware/software that runs on the probe
    • Organizing data validation investigations and experiments
    • Contributing to spectral calibration and verification testing
    • Debugging electrical and software issues (Including but not limited to spectral collections, other sensor data, ESD mitigation, RF interference, sensor data corruption)
    • Developing new hardware features such as display, sensors, power management, etc.
    • Supporting hardware deployment in field
    • Contributing to robust and rugged systems to be deployed in harsh field conditions (e.g. 0-40C temperatures, Light rain, shocks and vibrations, dust, ESD/EMI)

Qualifications (Must Have)

    • Proven experience shipping hardware that works
    • Python, SQL, git version control literacy 
    • Data collection, processing, and interpretation
    • Designing robust digital and analog schematics and layouts
    • Competency evaluating electrical system performance
    • Experience implementing and calibrating weird sensors
    • Robust root cause analysis framework and skills

Qualifications (Nice To Have)

    • Experience working with spectrometers or other high precision laboratory equipment
    • Physics, Organic Chemistry, and/or Chemometrics background
    • Instrument calibration process development
$140,000 - $190,000 a year
Compensation and Other Details

- Market salary and equity commensurate with expertise. Directionally, we expect a salary in the range of $140,000 to $190,000. We benchmark to 75th percentile of high-growth US tech compensation via Pave, the single largest compensation benchmarking database in the world.
- We offer health, dental, and vision insurance via Justworks, our benefits and payroll provider. We contribute 80% of base healthcare plan premiums (regardless of employee plan type (e.g. single vs. family) and 50% of a base dental plan, as well as offer additional contributions to HSAs for employees who select eligible high-deductible plans.
- We provide unlimited PTO, unlimited sick leave, 6 weeks paid primary caregiver leave, and 4 weeks paid secondary caregiver leave (flexible as to format, eligibility includes surrogacy and adoptive contexts).
- We offer to extend post-termination exercise periods to 10 years when you leave the company so you don’t get screwed out of your options.
- We’ll buy you a computer and provide a work-from-home reimbursement to use how you please.
- Additional benefits include One Medical, Health Advocate, and Talkspace memberships and a company-sponsored 401k.
- This role is explicitly based out of our Oakland, CA hardware lab. We have no specific working hours except to “collaborate excellently” within teams - that typically requires overlapping with your teammates at least a few hours per day. (If resident in the U.S., then U.S. work authorization is required.)
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Yard Stick’s impact goals go well beyond climate science. Why? Our company operates primarily in the US agricultural sector, which is predicated on centuries of mass land theft and disenfranchisement of Native and Black people. This harm continues today. If we’re going to work in this sector, we need to leave it better than we found it.

Consistent with our core value of “Pursue Justice,” we speak up about these issues, and we support emerging solutions and relevant policy efforts such as H.R.40 and S.300. We also publicly highlight the risk of further racial discrimination in emerging agricultural legislation like the Growing Climate Solutions Act and in press coverage ensure that the discrimination in past and present US agriculture is part of the conversation right alongside more typical topics like who our customers are, or how our tech works.

Regarding hiring and culture, we work to create a work environment where everyone feels confident sharing their ideas, problem-solving happens openly and collaboratively, and mistake-making is welcomed. We’ve recently organized lunchtime all-team discussions on issues like labor equity in Florida produce, Pigford v. Glickman (the largest US civil rights settlement in history), and other contemporary moral concerns in agriculture. When hiring, we standardize our interview process and questions to reduce “likeability” bias, benchmark salaries against industry databases to reduce negotiation, and utilize tools like the Gender Decoder. Climate change is arguably the most complex challenge ever faced by humanity - we need all of humanity activated to fight back, and that motivates us to build a diverse team.