At Yard Stick, we value climate impact above all else. We help farmers get paid to fight climate change.
Removing CO2 from the atmosphere will be necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Among the possible methods for CO2 removal, sequestration in soils is widely seen as the most affordable and scalable, and comes with the valuable co-benefit of improving soil health. Farmers can readily sequester carbon in their soils by adopting practices such as cover cropping and no-till, known collectively as “regenerative agriculture”. However, current methods for actually measuring increases in soil carbon are prohibitively expensive and frankly medieval, requiring high costs to laboriously dig up soil cores and mail them to a lab for combustion analysis.
At Yard Stick, we’re inventing a new method of soil carbon measurement. We’ve packaged decades of soil science research into a handheld soil probe which measures soil carbon quickly and accurately, while reducing the cost of measurement by 90% over existing methods. Our probe combines a suite of cutting-edge sensors, a clever form factor, and advanced machine learning techniques.
In this role, you will lead development of our little carbon-measuring probe’s electronics and embedded software. You are responsible for making sure our devices operate reliably and intuitively, ensuring they collect high-quality data, and delivering that data to our data science team. You will work closely with our mechanical engineers, data scientists, and field teams who are using (and occasionally breaking) the device. You should be excited about having climate impact, working on small, creative teams, and getting hands-on with dirty hardware.
The Yard Stick soil probes are handheld electromechanical devices packed with over a dozen sensors and a spectrometer, used to capture soil data in unprecedented resolution. The prototype devices run Python code on an embedded raspberry pi, but you will evaluate and likely replace this architecture. The devices need to detect very small changes in soil properties, so sensor data fidelity and accuracy are paramount, as well as ensuring consistency across devices. The probes are deployed with our field specialists for weeks at a time, so reliability and remote management are critical.
Yard Stick deployed a few prototype devices with our field team in fall 2021, and a few dozen are planned for deployment in 2022. This role brings the opportunity to grow a project from prototype to a smoothly operating and maintainable machine. You will immediately be responsible for supporting and expanding the capabilities of in-field devices, monitoring and improving sensor data quality and calibrations, and working with the hardware team to design the next generation of devices. You will eventually need to manage production and deployment of a large number of devices.
Yard Stick is a remote-first company with cofounders in Oakland, Chicago, and Boston. But for our hardware team (including this job), in-person work together at our hardware lab is often necessary so we expect this role to be local to the SF bay area.
Yard Stick is a seed-stage soil carbon measurement startup hell bent on stopping climate change with agriculture. Alongside our scientific collaborators, in 2020 we were awarded a $3.6M grant from the DOE ARPA-E Smartfarm Program. 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.. For more background, check out some recent coverage in TechCrunch or Treehugger.
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. Yard Stick is a place where personal growth is highly valued… and in fact required if we’re going to accomplish our ambitious goals.
On a personal note: After co-founding Charm Industrial (a carbon sequestration company focused on biomass conversion), I (Kevin, Co-founder and Chief Engineer at Yard Stick) found myself drawn to the scale and affordability of soil carbon sequestration, and the potential for a novel hardware solution to unlock its full potential. Between my experienced co-founders and our world-class soil scientists, I’m excited about the impact Yard Stick could have, and looking for more amazing engineers to join our team!
Yard Stick’s impact goals go well beyond climate science (although our #1 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 and be able to sleep at night, 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, and benchmark salaries against industry databases to reduce negotiation. 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.
Please email Kevin Meissner at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Electrical Engineer” and include a recent resume.
In that same email, briefly answer the following Qs, and we’ll follow up ASAP: