Lead Mechanical Engineer
Oakland, CA
Mid-level · Full time
Posted 2 years ago

About Yard Stick PBC

Yard Stick is an early-stage startup focused on gigaton-scale soil carbon sequestration by reducing the cost of soil carbon measurement by 90%. To do this, we are building a novel spectroscopic soil probe which uses published machine learning techniques to quickly and accurately measure carbon in soils (yes it’s literally groundbreaking). We work closely with a team of amazing soil scientists to ensure scientific rigor at every step. For more background, check out this profile in TechCrunch.

About the Role

In this role, you will lead mechanical design of Yard Stick’s probes and associated hardware. You will work on everything from concept designs through to production, testing, and maintenance of the probes. You will work closely with our optics and electrical engineers and field teams who are using (and occasionally breaking) the devices. You should be excited about owning a broad scope of work on a small, creative team, getting hands-on with dirty hardware, and having climate impact!

The Yard Stick soil probes are handheld devices packed with over a dozen sensors, optics, and a spectrometer, used to capture soil data in unprecedented resolution. The devices involve a range of fun engineering challenges including miniaturized optics and electrical packaging, extremely abrasive soil environments, and the need for high sensor precision. This role involves a lot of hands-on testing and rapid prototyping of small electro-opto-mechanical assemblies. 

Yard Stick already has a few prototype devices deployed with our field team this fall, with a few dozen planned for deployment next year. You will get to support the field team with these deployed devices, including inventory management, maintenance, and working with the field team on design improvements. After completing design revisions, you will be responsible for managing the manufacturing, assembly, and testing of new devices. This includes design of test fixtures and other supporting hardware to make these the best little soil probes ever made.

Yard Stick is a remote-first company with cofounders in Oakland, Chicago, and Boston, but prefer our hardware team (including this job) to be based in the SF Bay area. Our hardware team is currently centered in Oakland, CA and we may open a hardware-focused lab here in the future.


  • Leading mechanical design of the probes, from incremental improvements to new concept designs
  • Rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration of new designs
  • Leading manufacturing, assembly, and testing of devices
  • Managing deployment and maintenance of devices across our field teams
  • Play a key role in development of a novel carbon measurement technology
  • Working with optical designers and electrical engineers to develop next-generation devices


  • 3+ years relevant experience
  • Experience designing compact electro-mechanical devices
  • Experience with rapid prototyping and testing
  • Value generosity, honesty, accountability, diversity, and curiosity!
  • Passion for having climate impact
  • Enthusiasm to learn, teach, and collaborate

Bonus Qualifications

  • Experience with optical design and packaging
  • Experience with abrasion resistance and material hardening
  • Experience designing ruggedized devices
  • Experience with manufacturing, assembly, and testing
  • Experience incorporating user feedback into design improvements

More About Yard Stick PBC

Yard Stick is an early-stage soil carbon measurement startup on a mission to stop 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. Alongside our scientific collaborators, we were awarded a $3.6M grant from the DOE ARPA-E Smartfarm program in fall 2020 and are backed by top climate VCs.

You will be joining a small team, united by our passion to fight climate change and pursue justice. We are driven by a set of core values which you should ask us about. We foster a playful and collaborative culture with happy and healthy work-life balance. We work hard to build a culture where everyone feels confident sharing their ideas, problem-solving happens openly and collaboratively, and mistake-making is welcomed. Yard Stick is a place where personal growth is highly valued… and in fact required if we’re going to accomplish our ambitious goals.

Compensation and Other Details

  • Market bay-area salary. 
  • Generous equity. We offer to extend post-termination exercise periods when you leave so you don’t get screwed out of your options.
  • Unlimited PTO and sick leave and paid caregiver leave. 6 weeks primary caregiver (fka “maternity leave”), 2 weeks secondary caregiver (fka “paternity leave”). Caregiver leave extends to adoption and other non-childbirth contexts. 
  • Health insurance reimbursement. You buy your own insurance and we reimburse 80% of your premiums.

How To Apply

Please email Kevin Meissner at kevin@useyardstick.com with the subject “Mechanical Engineer” and include a recent resume.

In that same email, briefly answer the following Qs, and we’ll follow up ASAP:

  • Why you’re interested in the role
  • A few sentences about your relevant experience and interests
  • How you heard about this role, if it’s not obvious
Yard Stick PBC
Soil Carbon Revealed
Size:  1-10 employees
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