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Prelude Ventures
Prelude Ventures

Mechanical Design Lead — Electric Powertrain System



Oakland, CA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Pyka is looking for a Mechanical Design Lead to oversee the design, testing, and manufacturing of Pyka’s electric propulsion system. In this role you will have the opportunity to build a team from the ground up that is responsible for ensuring execution of a broad range of projects with brisk timelines. Your team will be responsible for improving the reliability, manufacturability, and performance of Pyka’s existing propulsion system (batteries, motors, motor controllers, and propellers), as well as taking on new clean-sheet design work.

Candidates who thrive in fast-paced environments, have a passion for taking products from early stages of production through to scale, and enjoy working with a small dedicated team will love this role.

In the first six months you and your team will:

  • Develop the mechanical design of our next-gen Pelican Cargo battery enclosure and produce the first batch of prototypes

  • Evaluate options to remove thermal grease from our motor controller and replace with thermal gap pads in order to improve manufacturability and robustness

  • Work with our test team to increase the scope and cadence of our propulsion system endurance testing efforts

  • Oversee production of our first large batch of Pelican Spray batteries (~80 batteries)

  • Environmental testing of battery-to-bus bar interconnections

  • Work with propeller vendor on a next-generation folding propeller

About Pyka

Pyka’s goal is to provide society with a new form of fast, environmentally friendly, and accessible transportation enabled by autonomous electric aviation.

To get there, we’re taking a different approach than most. We're applying our technologies to every industry where electric aircraft can be useful, starting with the highest value and most dangerous jobs. In doing so, we're building useful, game-changing products manufactured at scale, while perfecting the safety, reliability, and capabilities of our autonomy engine and electric propulsion systems.

Today, we supply our aircraft to agricultural service providers and farmers as an autonomous tool that makes aerial crop protection safer, more targeted and less harmful to surrounding environments. Our vehicles are highly economical to operate and easy to deploy. What you work on at Pyka makes people’s lives better now and brings the future of electric aviation one-step closer each day.

We design, develop and manufacture an ecosystem of technologies including proprietary flight control software, avionics, high power density motors, motor controllers, batteries, and custom carbon-fiber composite airframes.

We foster a welcoming community within our company that promotes experimentation, asking questions, making simple solutions to complex problems, and expressing different views and opinions. We are a transparent company both internally and externally and do not believe in operating in “stealth mode.” Lastly, we don’t work 60 hour weeks, and don’t expect you to either. In this role you will have a great deal of responsibility, earn a competitive salary and benefits, and contribute to the development of groundbreaking technology.


  • Improve the reliability, manufacturability, and performance of existing propulsion system designs (batteries, motor controllers, motors, and propellers)

  • Lead the conceptual design, prototyping, testing, iteration and documentation of new propulsion system designs

  • Manage timelines and projects coordinating across teams at Pyka to ensure that key milestones are met and resources are efficiently utilized

  • Create 3D CAD, drawings and manufacturing documents with meticulous attention to detail

  • Work with our manufacturing teams as well as third party vendors to build tools and processes to facilitate accurate and consistent manufacture of subsystems

  • Build a team from the ground up to support design, testing, and manufacturing of Pyka’s propulsion system

Preferred Qualifications:

  • 8+ years of experience designing, testing, and deploying electric propulsion systems on robots or vehicles

  • Deep knowledge of the physics, failure modes, and design practices relating to batteries and power electronics

  • Experience supporting the manufacture of electric vehicle propulsion systems at scale (>100 units/year)

  • Proven record of taking ideas from napkin sketches to manufactured products

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

  • Experience designing and implementing test programs to improve hardware robustness

  • Uncanny attention to detail and ability to root cause complex hardware problems based on very subtle clues

  • Values simplicity and pace in both the way you design and the way you work

  • Past experience leading an engineering team in a fast paced R&D environment

  • Expertise in any 3D CAD package (Solidworks, NX, Inventor)

  • Experience using FEA and hand calculations to validate mechanical designs

  • Ability and excitement to be in a prototyping shop building things with your hand

  • Degree in Mechanical Engineering or related field

Company Perks

  • $150,000–$200,000 per year base salary + equity. Compensation will vary depending on location, job-related knowledge, skills, and experience. Salary ranges are subject to change.

  • Employer-sponsored health, dental and vision insurance, FSA with employer matching, and 401(k)

  • Paid time off, company holidays, and parental leave

  • Free catered lunch and plenty of snacks

Export Control Requirements

This position requires access to technology, software and other information that is subject to governmental access control restrictions, due to export controls. Employment in this position is conditioned on the continued availability of government authorization to authorize release of such items, to the extent required, including without limitation an export license, or other documentation required to establish authorization to receive access to such items.

Company may delay commencement of employment, rescind an offer of employment, terminate employment, and/or may modify job responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and/or access to Company facilities and information systems, as Company deems appropriate, in order to ensure compliance with applicable government access control restrictions.


We do not work with external recruiters; if you are an external recruiter, please do not reach out.