Junior Hardware Engineer

Do you want to help citizens better understand their environment using civic technologies ranging from air sensors to satellite/drone imagery?

Code for Africa (CfA) has an immediate vacancy for a Junior Hardware Engineer to join our sensors.AFRICA team to help build digital tools that transform how African cities work. 

The successful candidate will help design the remote sensing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that underpin sensors.AFRICA’s existing network of low-cost ‘citizen sensors’ that monitor air quality in five countries, as well as improving the cutting-edge experimental water sensors that detect cholera and other contaminants, and novel hydrophone sensors that detect illegal dynamite fishing and coral bleaching in East Africa’s oceans. You will also help customise/deploy drones to map settlements and better understand how to combat climate change.

CfA is a non-profit technology R&D lab. While robust hardware engineering skills are required, no prior air/water/climate monitoring or urban development experience is required.

We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis so we encourage candidates to apply as soon as possible for consideration.

The successful candidate will report to CfA’s sensors.AFRICA manager, and will also work with CfA’s wider technology, data, design and content teams in 21 African countries to build robust systems and infrastructures for our partners in watchdog civil society organisations, the investigative media and selected progressive government agencies.

Your daily responsibilities will include:

  • Work collaboratively with our team of engineers and data scientists in designing, constructing, installing, and operating ambient air quality and meteorological monitoring projects at partner locations throughout Africa.
  • Design sheet metal and molded plastic parts in electro-mechanical assemblies.
  • Follow standard operating procedures for collecting high-quality data meeting regulatory requirements including proper documentation. 
  • Travel for scheduled and unscheduled site visits to client locations. Field work is expected to be about 25% of job responsibilities. 
  • Support office air measurements functions including monitoring field operations, facilitating logistics, validating data, and reporting.
  • Improve and optimise the ongoing performance, scalability, and reliability of our hardware systems (and documentation) given the growing size of our sensor networks.
  • Ensure consistent and proactive calibration and maintenance for all deployed monitoring equipment, including innovative ways to support volunteer (non-technical) custodians of the equipment at schools, environmental organisations, etc. 
  • Participate in stakeholder consultations or internal strategic discussions, to help non-technical partners understand what is possible and now best to use the technologies to achieve actionable insights.

Minimum requirements include:

  • BSc/BEng Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering or equivalent practical experience.
  • Demonstrated experience in electronics packaging mechanical design.
  • Demonstrated experience designing sheet metal and moulded plastic parts in electro-mechanical assemblies.
  • Demonstrated experience designing for low cost, high volume plastic housings and sheet metal components.
  • Experience reading and interpreting data sheets and electrical schematics.
  • Excellent command of electrical engineering fundamentals.
  • Demonstrated experience in revision control using Git and Git workflows.
  • Demonstrated experience in the Espressif MCU ecosystem and ARM-based microcontrollers.
  • Board documentation and liaison with the firmware development team
  • Experience in the design of reusable libraries and SDKs is a plus.
  • Self-starter with the ability to work effectively in teams across internal and external organisations and virtual teams.
  • Ability to design, prototype, validate, test and assemble printed circuit boards (PCBs) using electronic ECAD tools, preferably Autodesk Eagle and Fusion360.
  • Experience working on PCB post-manufacturing processes including circuit board reflow and soldering, and final testing.

Language and Location Requirements:

  • Location: CfA’s main sensors.AFRICA lab is located in Nairobi (Kenya), but CfA also has additional labs in Abuja (Nigeria), Cape Town or Johannesburg (South Africa), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and Lagos (Nigeria). The role can be performed remotely, and CfA will therefore consider exceptional applicants from across Africa.
  • Primary language: English
Code for Africa (CfA) is the continent’s largest network of indigenous African civic technology and investigative data journalism laboratories, with over 70 staff in 19 countries, who build digital democracy solutions that are intended to give citizens unfettered access to actionable information that empowers them to make informed decisions and that strengthen civic engagement for improved public governance and accountability. This includes building infrastructure such as the continent’s largest open data portal, open.AFRICA, and largest open source civic software portal, commons.AFRICA, as well as the largest repository of investigative document-based evidence, source.AFRICA, as well as incubating initiatives as diverse as the africanDRONE network that gives citizens their own ‘eyes in the sky’, the PesaCheck fact-checking initiative in 12 African countries, and the sensors.AFRICA remote-sensing citizen science initiative to combat air/water pollution. CfA also incubates the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), as an association of the continent’s best investigative newsrooms, ranging from large traditional mainstream media to smaller specialist units. ANCIR member newsrooms investigate crooked politicians, organised crime and big business. The iLAB is ANCIR’s in-house digital forensic unit, with teams in east, south and west Africa. ANCIR uses its resources to strengthen newsrooms’ own internal capacity, by providing access to the world’s best whistleblower encryption and investigative semantic analysis technologies, as well as skills development, and seed grants for cross-border collaboration.