Research engineer job search (Looking for advice)

Northrop Grumman / Eng hotHoagie
Feb 3 16 Comments

I’ve been at Northrop on the east coast for 2 years now with a MS in Electrical engineering. My current job title is “research and development engineer” working on new LiDAR systems. I’m starting to apply to research engineer positions at other companies (Amazon, Google, Uber, Lyft etc.) but I’m having a lot of trouble landing any interviews. I have currently sent out around 15-20 applications.

My core skillset includes: Matlab, signal processing, wavelet analysis, compressive sensing, sparse representation, LiDAR systems

I have 6 months of experience with python and machine learning from a graduate course I took in college and I’ll dabble occasionally with neural networks at work to demonstrate proof of concept. Additionally I am quite rusty at object oriented programming although I have learned it in school. Sometimes I’ll use it in Matlab but mostly, I work with scripts.

I would greatly appreciate recommendations on what desirable skills I could improve on or add to my “tool belt”, jobs postings that I should apply for, and overall advice about anything!

Thanks in advance!

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TOP 16 Comments
  • Microsoft ertyygjksc
    I haven't seen anyone uses matlab in the current and previous company. To be honest, I just skip resumes that say matlab is the most familiar language or tool.
    Feb 3 5
    • Northrop Grumman / Eng hotHoagie
      OP
      Would you say that migrating my Matlab proficiency to python would be good for my resume?
      Feb 3
    • Microsoft ertyygjksc
      It would help. Some experience with faster and more efficient libraries written in c++ might help even more. (Not necessarily proficient.)
      Feb 3
    • What roles are you hiring for though? Traditional engineering uses Matlab everyone else not so much.
      Feb 3
    • Microsoft ertyygjksc
      For ML,DL. I agree that it might different for other domains. But for my org, all the research scientists and research engineers write in c++. Sometimes, python.
      Feb 3
    • Northrop Grumman / Eng hotHoagie
      OP
      @ertyygjksc Ok I’ll spend some time reading and practicing C++! For context, where to I expect to apply this? I’m imagining using C++ to transition proof-of-concept simulations to embedded prototypes. Is that what you had in mind?
      Feb 3
  • Tektronix / Sales
    BlueBerd

    Tektronix Sales

    PRE
    Oracle
    BlueBerdmore
    Have you applied elsewhere? I see people move from NG to Raytheon or Boeing from time to time.
    Feb 3 3
    • I'm guessing they want bigger TC and a work culture that values employees, but they like doing researchy type work because it's more fun than just coding. You can get bumps jumping between contractors but their all about the same. Usually going to small contractor can be better and pay a bit more, but long term they're not super viable.
      Feb 3
    • Tektronix / Sales
      BlueBerd

      Tektronix Sales

      PRE
      Oracle
      BlueBerdmore
      Understood but I see more and more people hold up these big companies like they are the ultimate place to be without really knowing much about them other than their names. There are a lot of other possibilities to consider.
      Feb 3
    • They're just kind of the gold standard in terms of comp and perks that's why. If they paid the same as a Lockheed no one would give a shit.
      Feb 3
  • Cruise Automation / Eng Phlushed
    "Matlab"
    That's the problem. Candidates with mostly Matlab experience tend to be unable to write good production code. Research engineer positions in lidar are mostly about writing high quality C++ or python code. To get more interviews you might want to deemphasize Matlab experience and practice C++ or python enough to pass interviews with them.
    Feb 3 1
    • Northrop Grumman / Eng hotHoagie
      OP
      Thank you for this. It really helped me get a good picture of what I need to work on. Cheers!
      Feb 3
  • Well what exactly do you want to do? Do you want to be a SDE or ? You're not really going to get research positions with just an MS. Your best bet is try to get into an AV company and learn how to code in C++ well as well as leetcode. If you're cook with just being a Dev, all you need is leetcode, or you could get a good portfolio together or second MS and try to transition to DS.
    Feb 3 2
    • Northrop Grumman / Eng hotHoagie
      OP
      Thanks for the reply. I would like to work in R&D engineering at non-defense company. Why did you say to learn C++ as opposed to java or python?
      Feb 3
    • C++ for the AV space. Python if you want to be an RSDE at like brain, but even then you'll need leetcode and it will be hard to get an interview at those places.

      If you really want to do research a PhD is a must if you want the high TC as well. You could probably try for a place like Lincoln labs if TC is t as important.
      Feb 3
  • Microsoft ertyygjksc
    Yes. I don't know so much details of your field, but I can imagine a lot of eco system is in c++. As its final form is embedded c++. They might want to unify the eco sysyem
    Feb 3 0