Lead Hardware Engineer

  • Yard Stick PBC
  • Oakland, CA, USA
  • Jan 02, 2022
Full time role Engineering: Hardware

Job Description

About Yard Stick PBC

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. 

About the Role

In this role, you will lead the development of Yard Stick’s probes and associated hardware. 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 harsh in-field  environments, and the need for high sensor precision.

You will have a broad scope of responsibility, including low-level mechanical design through to organizing production and delivery of completed devices. You will be ultimately responsible for ensuring our devices meet requirements and are delivered on time. You will integrate electronics and optical assemblies from other engineers into the mechanical design. You will drive production schedules, manage vendors and subcontractors, and lead the assembly and testing of each production run. You will work closely with our 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, having climate impact, and creating the best little soil probes ever.

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.


  • Leading mechanical design of the probes, from incremental improvements to new concept designs
  • Leading overall device prototyping, testing, and production
  • 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


  • Expertise in mechanical design
  • Expertise in product development and production
  • 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 incorporating user feedback into design improvements

More About Yard Stick PBC

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 impact. 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! 

Compensation and Other Details

  • Market Bay-area salary. 
  • Generous equity, AND we offer extended 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.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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.

How To Apply

Please email Kevin Meissner at kevin@useyardstick.com with the subject “Hardware 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

Organization Type


Organization Size



Carbon Accounting & Offsetting, Food & Agriculture

Drawdown solutions

Conservation Agriculture, Regenerative Annual Cropping