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Staff Controls Engineer



Software Engineering
Chester, VA, USA
Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2023

About Plenty

We are on a mission to grow plenty of fresh food for everyone, everywhere. We are building the world’s largest, most technologically advanced, indoor vertical farms. Using a fraction of the land and water outdoor farms need, our farms are designed to secure our food future.

Our people and teams are how we make our mission possible. We are passionate about our contributions to Plenty, the communities around us and our planet, but never take ourselves too seriously. We’re down to earth, we grow together, and we always find a way. Join us as we rewrite the rules of agriculture, and we’ll bet our berries you’ll be rewarded with innovative and collaborative teammates, a supportive environment, diverse career opportunities and meaningful work.

About the role

Plenty is looking for a Staff Controls Engineer to join our Controls Engineering team and tackle problems that reimagine the way food is grown. In this role, you will work closely with the internal Automation Mechanical Design team and outside integrators to drive farm automation controls architecture, define company standards, and assist with system commissioning. We are looking for someone who has experience in industrial automation and is excited about the task of bringing modern software development practices and tools into the picture. You’ll write machine software using industrial controllers, leverage your understanding of electrical systems, and work closely with our software engineering teams on integration and tool development. Your work will directly impact the scalability of sustainable farming in a fast-paced, dynamic environment

What you'll do

  • Partner with internal equipment design engineers and external equipment integrators to develop equipment utilizing internally developed libraries
  • Architect and improve the control system library for core automation developed and maintained by Plenty
  • Develop internal tools that enable the automation of the entire software release process
  • Develop tools to aggregate log data and deploy machine parameters to a fleet of machines
  • Define best practices for machine design using an object-oriented software approach and mentor your fellow engineers, evangelizing best practices in manufacturing system design
  • Collaborate with the Software and Data Team to understand and implement data collection and product traceability requirements
  • Interface automation equipment with internal software tools to aggregate machine data in a meaningful way
  • Serve as a technical lead on complex projects, estimating cost & duration of scope and delegating tasks to fellow engineers
  • Travel up to 30% to support farm commissioning

What you'll bring to the table

  • Education or training equivalent to a B.S. or higher (e.g. M.S. or Ph.D) in an Engineering or other technical discipline and 7+ years of progressive experience designing control systems
  • Experience designing and implementing control architectures from the ground up using an object-oriented approach
  • Exposure to a wide variety of industrial control platforms -- we use Beckhoff & Rockwell
  • You take pride in designing clear and easy to use user interfaces at the machine and line level (Ignition)
  • Expertise in designing or troubleshooting electrical systems used in industrial automation
  • A highly collaborative engineer, you partner closely with other stakeholders to develop system level requirements
  • Exposure to or eagerness to learn about the following areas:
    • High and low voltage hardware design (480VAC - 24VDC)
    • Programming 6-axis robots, including vision and safety integration (FANUC, KUKA)
    • Database integration and administration (MySQL, Postgres)
    • Revision control and CI/CD tools (Git)
    • Software development using a variety of languages (Python, C#)
    • Machine vision for robotic guidance, metrology, or quality inspection
    • Defining equipment safety systems including networked safety (FSoE, CIP Safety, PROFIsafe)

Type of role

Full-Time; Hybrid

What we can offer

  • Compensation; we’ll pay you a competitive salary, give you a stake in the company via equity and contribute toward your 401K
  • Health & well-being; we’ll invest in your physical and mental well-being with comprehensive medical, dental, & vision benefits, in-office gyms, and an Employee Assistance Program to help with mental health, financial & legal matters
  • Food; in-office lunches, snacks and access to our leafy greens & new produce in development -- are you up for a side gig as a taste tester?
  • Grow together; learning & development opportunities including unlimited access to our Upstart University platform, LinkedIn Learning, lunch & learns, training certifications, and more
  • Equipment; we’ll provide you with the equipment you need to be successful, including $75/month toward your phone bill and $250 every 2 years to upgrade your phone
  • Paid time off; we know you’ll do your best if you’re taking time to recharge, so we don’t cap the amount of days you can take off per year in addition to the paid holidays we observe
  • Parental leave; 12 weeks off for all new parents - fully paid so you can focus your energy on your newest addition

Food & Safety Requirements

  • Comply with all Plant, State and Federal OSHA, EPA, FDA, HACCP, and SQF regulations
  • Ensure equipment design is of a material suitable for food safety and designed in a way that is smooth and easily cleanable
  • All applicants must be 18 years or older to apply