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Principal Embedded Software Engineer

Software Engineering · Seattle, Washington

First Mode is a creative engineering company solving the toughest problems on and off the planet, with the goal of having an outsized impact on the world around us. We build the barely possible.  

From our state-of-the-art manufacturing and production facilities in Seattle and Perth, we design and deliver resilient, reliable solutions for the most demanding and constrained frontiers in existence. In the last year our engineers built a 2MW hydrogen fuel cell and battery powerplant to retrofit a three-story, 300-metric-ton-capacity diesel haul truck; designed the power source and refueling system for the world’s first endurance race vehicle to be powered by liquid hydrogen; and delivered spaceflight hardware headed 370 million kilometers from Earth to asteroid 16 Psyche. 

While each project is unique, we typically meld together robotics, automation, systems engineering, modeling and simulation, and advanced fabrication to create a new future across many industries. If you have exceptional talent and a vision for the future, we want to talk. 

First Mode is seeking to add members to our software systems team who have strong capabilities for working these types of problems within a constrained, fast-paced environment. Applicants from all industries are welcome, with particular emphasis in software development in complex, multidisciplinary systems.

Position Responsibilities

Working in a small team of engineers, you will help build the software that drives our product development, leveraging modern tools, techniques, and best practices to craft solutions to real-world problems. Our software projects span a wide spectrum from embedded systems to large-scale distributed computing, but usually involve interaction with a physical system. You will work alongside – and learn from! – engineers of mixed disciplines as you think outside the boundaries of your own code to make a major impact on the systems we design and implement. In many cases our software tool stack is not predetermined so you will have the opportunity to help guide the technologies that we choose.  

We need software engineers who: 

  • Are driven to deliver high quality, working software
  • Work effectively in a fast-paced, dynamic team environment 
  • Are excited by researching and teaching themselves new technologies and skills 
  • Love to learn how things work, and understand how software can interact with the physical world as part of a system 
  • Are able to develop firmware in C/C++ and/or assembly for a variety of embedded system platforms
  • Can collaborate with hardware engineers in development, integration, and debug of prototype hardware
  • Represent software as a stakeholder within a multi-disciplinary team, from system formulation through design, build and test
  • Have gleaned insights from interesting projects (school, personal, or professional) and can tell a great story about the lessons they learned
  • Are willing to travel within the U.S. and internationally to represent First Mode to its customers, vendors, and partners

Ideally, you should have an area that you’re passionate about and could teach others.

Basic Qualifications

  • Have experienced one or more complete product life cycles
  • 5+ years of experience working in embedded C/C++ and/or assembly
  • 5+ years of experience in a scripting language such as Python or Tcl and system shell languages such as Bash
  • Experience leading a team of embedded software engineers to deliver a defined outcome
  • Experience in testing and validation approaches for embedded systems
  • Experience with high-reliability safety-critical software development, deployment, and operation in resource-constrained environments

Preferred Qualifications

  • Possess a diverse experience base, with comprehension of low and high-level software
  • Experience with an embedded operating system such as FreeRTOS, Zephyr, uC-OS, etc
  • Experience working with embedded hardware and basic lab equipment (power supplies, etc.)
  • Experience with software configuration management tools/methods
  • A knack for thinking about how the parts of a system work together
  • Proficiency with common embedded systems communications protocols (SPI, I2C, CAN, RS-422/485) — applications and implementation
  • Ability to write and speak clearly about technical subject matter
  • Experience with the development and execution of software test plans
  • Experience with software quality metrics (path coverage, static analysis, etc.)
  • Experience in real-time embedded systems, mission-critical software, or distributed system software 


  • This position will be located at First Mode’s headquarters in Seattle, WA and will be required to work in office >60% of working hours


  • To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) you must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State. Learn more about the ITAR here. 

Benefits & Perks

  • Competitive compensation and bonus structure
  • 100% employer-paid health insurance (medical, dental, vision)
  • Flexible PTO with 12 week supplementary paid parental leave
  • 401(k) retirement account with a discretionary employer match
  • Commuter benefits (parking and public transportation)
  • A culture that encourages professional growth with learning and development reimbursements
  • Open and collaborative workspaces with free office snacks and lunches
  • Hybrid work model


First Mode is an Equal Opportunity Employer; employment with First Mode 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.