Senior Calibration Engineer (Spectroscopy)
Oakland, CA /
About the Role
Yard Stick is looking for a Senior Calibration Engineer to help us fight climate change with soil. This role will lead Yard Stick’s sensor calibration work, focused on the VISNIR spectrometers employed in our carbon-sensing soil probes in addition to other sensor types. Yard Stick measures soil carbon and other important soil properties by feeding data collected by our probes into machine learning models. Thus we need to ensure our probes are collecting consistent and accurate data, even when they're subjected to hot and cold, rough and tumble field conditions.
We are a small company with big ambitions, and therefore we need someone who can proactively identify and solve a wide range of sensor calibration challenges. Your work will entail: determining what metrics to base calibration on, how to measure those metrics, spec'ing and operating the required calibration fixtures, developing algorithms to apply the measured calibrations and corrections to our production data, verifying and monitoring the performance and accuracy of production sensors, and automating as much of this process as possible! We'd love someone with direct experience but are also open to someone eager to learn these processes. You should have high attention to detail and really love data analysis.
This role will report to Kevin Meissner, Yard Stick’s Co-Founder and Chief Engineer, and will be based out of our Oakland 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 two days a week. This is a dream job for someone who loves working hands-on with hardware, collecting and analyzing data, designing experiments and test fixtures and wants to join a rapidly-growing startup with literal planetary-scale impact.
To date we have built a handful of prototypes of our soil probes, and tested them across thousands of acres of agricultural lands. Our initial machine learning models have shown unprecedented accuracy in predicting soil carbon content. In 2023 we'll begin deploying production units of our probes to perform real carbon stock measurement work for paying customers. This role will be critical in transitioning our hardware from development to production-quality.
We’d like to hire this person to start ASAP.
About Yard Stick PBC
Yard Stick is a remote-first, seed-stage company, with founders based in Boston and Oakland. 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 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 recently awarded $18M across six USDA Climate-Smart Commodities projects, and we have additional grant financing from ARPA-E, NSF, CDFA, and other discerning financiers. For more background, check out some recent coverage in AgFunder, TechCrunch or Treehugger.
We've also raised money from top climate VCs, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures (Bill Gates' climate fund), Lowercarbon Capital (Chris and Crystal Sacca's climate fund), MCJ Collective, and others. Details of the financing aren’t announced in a press release or article, because that can feel a bit cart before the horse, but we're happy to share more detail about our funding when we chat.
We offer competitive salary and equity, health/dental/vision insurance, a 401k, and home-office reimbursements. We have a number of founders and other 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 features Yard Stick.
- Develop processes for spectral and radiometric calibration of Yard Stick’s spectroscopic soil probes, including specifying reference standards, test fixtures, and algorithms
- Execute calibration processes on all instruments built and shipped by Yard Stick, including hands-on data collection and analysis
- Work closely with data team to apply calibration corrections on production spectroscopy data
- Perform quality control of spectroscopy data on a fleet of in-field instruments and monitor performance over time
- Work closely with hardware team to make recommendations on optical or instrument design to improve calibration on future hardware revisions
- Experience with calibration and quality control of sensing instruments
- Experience with data analysis in Python
- Experience designing and performing calibration procedures
- Familiarity with optics and spectroscopy
- Passion for climate impact!
- Enthusiasm to learn, teach, and collaborate
- Direct experience with spectroscopic data collection, analysis and calibration
- Direct experience with optics or spectrometer design
- Experience with basic electronics and signals processing
- Experience designing and building calibration fixtures
Compensation and Other Details
- Bay-area competitive salary and equity commensurate with expertise.
- 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 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’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 via Slavic401k.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Yard Stick’s impact goals go well beyond climate science (although our #1 core value is Climate Impact). 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 actively work to make it better.
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.
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 also 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.