Rocket Lab is the global leader in small satellite launch. Our mission is to open access to space to improve life on Earth. There are endless possibilities for what we can achieve with better access to space, and that access is now a reality thanks to Rocket Lab. Our team is 500 people strong and we’re adding to it every week. Collaboration is at our core - every idea is heard and everyone makes a difference. Teams are nimble, decisions are made quickly and we are action-oriented.

While other companies talk about it, we do it!

Senior Development Engineer

As a Senior Development Engineer in Propulsion you will work with the rest of the Propulsion Team to develop and improve the performance and production of propulsion components and assemblies.

This job will involve daily co-operation with the R&D team in Auckland (including design, analysis, manufacturing and testing) and some work with the Production Facility in Huntington Beach, USA. The tasks will range from troubleshooting of detailed component defects for design improvement up to developing new designs for the Electron launch vehicle. You will work closely with test engineers and production engineers to ensure your designs can be tested to check performance, and that they can be produced for flight.

Technical knowledge

  • Uses technical expertise to define standard of excellence for his/her team
  • Consistently identifies the right/best solution when faced with an engineering challenge
  • Can navigate and complete tasks within their technical system as well as related technical systems
  • Coaches others in best practice for pertinent technical system


  • Can create a technical document pertinent to their role/expertise
  • Can approve and provide feedback and improvements on technical documents pertinent to their role/expertise
  • Steers development or improves the standard of their pertinent technical documents

Project Management

  • Identifies additional projects and distributes to team members
  • Sets group/business priority
  • Continuously delivers on-time
  • Over-achieves initial goals through technical expertise
  • Adjusts and refines scope of projects to align with company priorities and objectives

Risk Based Decision Making

  • Correctly assesses risk before it happens and puts measures in place to mitigate
  • Verifies long-term mitigations are effective so that future product is not impacted


  • Will take the lead to any problem which can't be resolved by peers, regardless of process, without being asked, and deliver results
  • Can coach others in problem solution effectiveness

Applied Business Solutions

  • Able to identify engineering challenges, provide feedback, and
  • Implement a solution to improve cost, quality, reliability, and/or delivery before it happens
  • Verifies that solutions are successful and communicates learning about effectiveness

Strategic Planning

  • Can create a personal strategic plan/AOP without supervision or steering
  • Can create or steer technical department and business goals/objectives
  • Adjusts and refines as business evolves


  • Positive attitude
  • Approachable
  • Consistently demonstrates "How can I help?" mentality
  • No task is beneath them
  • Sees challenges as motivation; does not get discouraged or demotivated by tough situations and problems
  • Continually raises the ceiling/moves the standard of excellence up to continually keep the team developing


  • Able to communicate with peers, subordinates, and superiors
  • Ensures meetings stay on track and constantly steer meetings to increase value add
  • Concisely and accurately conveys technical information to steer actions
  • Educates other engineers in technical areas to improve competency
  • Can create presentations, metrics, and emails that concisely highlight information and steer team on biggest areas of impact


  • Capable of developing criteria for acceptable level of cross-training and improving training processes and procedures
  • Capable of being deputy for lead or manager with minimal supervision for a given timeframe


  • Adheres to company policies and standards
  • Able to coach on appropriate professional behavior

Debate and Logical Skills

  • Can listen and internalize all sides of the discussion
  • Offers additional information, viewpoints, and insight during discussions
  • Use logical reasoning to progress debates
  • Willing to listen and change beliefs when challenged
  • Capable of "tie-breaking" through technical expertise or background

Design Engineering

  • Develop design requirements and conceptual designs
  • Perform preliminary analysis (structural and thermal)
  • Responsible for creating and running design, test and production reviews on your designs
  • Responsible for design records and documentation
  • Identify work for and support Analysis Team reviews
  • Support the test and manufacturing teams in qualification testing and production of new designs
  • Create detailed engineering drawings for production
  • Peer review colleagues engineering designs and drawings
  • Achieve “design freeze” target dates that fit into company schedules
  • Ensure that your designs pass design qualification criteria and work with the testing team to achieve this
  • Proactively identify opportunities for improvements or cost/efficiency reductions
  • Reactively troubleshoot and resolve performance, quality, cost and delivery issues
  • Work with technicians and other engineers performing production to create simple and easy to interpret processes

Planning and Teamwork

  • Pre plan activities needed to achieve product success
  • Co-ordinate your activities and the team activities to achieve project milestones through measurable subtasks
  • Co-ordinate with stakeholders to provide and collect information to ensure product success
  • Ensure activities are visible to management and provide updates on project health and blockers to progress.
  • Responsible for communication of the project status to the team and management.
  • Attend meetings relevant to the product application to receive and provide information external to the team
  • Hold meetings to provide information within the team and externally where applicable.


  • Able to interpret information from others and make sound engineering decisions relevant to area of responsibility
  • Able to identify work and information needed to achieve development milestones
  • Experienced working in a multi-disciplined team
  • Follow company practices for activities carried out
  • Create operations and product lifecycle documentation in addition to the detailed design documentation
  • Domestic and international travel may be required
  • Additional duties as reasonably required

Essential Skills and Experience

  • 4-year degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering
  • 5 years of industry experience in design engineering minimum
  • Excellent knowledge of physics and engineering materials
  • Excellent knowledge of manufacturing processes
  • Able to take a concept into production
  • Able to identify and implement root cause mitigation
  • Solidworks or equivalent CAD program experience

Desirable Skills and Experience

  • Document management system experience
  • etal additive manufacturing experience

To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, applicant must be a U.S. citizen as defined by ITAR (22 CFR §120.15) or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State.

Rocket Lab USA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment with Rocket Lab USA is governed on the basis of merit, competence and qualifications and will not be influenced in any manner by race, color, religion, gender, national origin/ethnicity, veteran status, disability status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability or any other legally protected status.

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