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Prelude Ventures
Prelude Ventures

Director of Hardware



Other Engineering
Oakland, CA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Pyka is looking for a Director of Hardware to grow and lead our hardware focused teams. You will initially manage a combination of managers and ICs, moving to managing a team of primarily managers within two years.

You will set the direction on key engineering systems. You will own complex trades, helping your teams weigh conflicting objectives like cost, performance, manufacturability, engineering time, etc. You will work directly with other managers as well as executive leadership in order to triage tasks and accomplish the company's objectives. You will oversee the refinement and scale up of our existing products and will take brand new products from conceptual design through to scaled production. Success in your role will meaningfully influence the rate at which our society transitions to electric aircraft.

At Pyka, we prioritize fostering a positive culture built on collaboration, transparency, and employee happiness. We're seeking a Director of Hardware who shares these values and is passionate about leading our hardware-focused teams in a supportive and inclusive environment.

This role will report directly to the CEO/CTO.

About Pyka

Pyka’s goal is to provide society with a new form of safe, clean, and cost-effective 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 autonomous electric aircraft can be useful, starting with the highest value and most dangerous jobs. In doing so, we're building game-changing products manufactured at scale, while perfecting the safety, reliability, and capabilities of our autonomy engine and electric propulsion systems.

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.

Today, we supply autonomous electric aircraft for cargo transport and crop protection to real-world customers across four separate continents and have secured industry-first regulatory approvals from the FAA.

Our cargo aircraft enables remote connectivity, enhances express delivery networks, and ensures fast and reliable shipping of critical supplies to areas in need. Our crop protection aircraft offers agricultural services providers and farmers an autonomous tool to make aerial application safer, more precise, and less harmful to surrounding environments. Both vehicles are highly economical to operate, easy to deploy, and significantly reduce CO2 emissions in their respective industries.

What you work on at Pyka makes people’s lives better now and brings the future of electric aviation one step closer each day.


  • Lead, manage, mentor and grow a world class team of mechanical engineers, hardware test engineers, and reliability engineers focused on all aspects of design and validation of complex hardware (aircraft structures, propulsion hardware, ground equipment)

  • Lead by example in promoting a positive and collaborative work culture

  • Ensure your team is equipped with the capabilities, tools and know-how to design, build and test hardware ranging from PLM to hardware bug tracking/resolution

  • Manage complex, frequently conflicting priorities, helping the team balance performance targets, cost targets, reliability targets, production targets, and schedule risk

  • Act as the primary interface with other key leaders within the company, helping unblock projects, manage conflicting priorities, predict future bottlenecks, etc

  • Develop and champion rigorous yet efficient design processes

  • Mentor team members from L2 to principal level engineers

  • Curate and maintain a small set of key metrics that track the performance of your team and report said metrics to the rest of the company in a way that inspires progress and, as required, course corrections

Preferred Qualifications

  • 10+ years of experience designing, testing, and deploying complex hardware systems (vehicles preferred)

  • Experience successfully taking a complex hardware system from prototype through to production (ideally >100x units/year with a product of similar complexity to our vehicle)

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

  • Deep understanding of engineering systems and the ability to implement right-sized systems as Pyka grows

  • Deep knowledge of the physics, failure modes, and design practices relating to complex electro-mechanical systems

  • Superb communication skills with the ability to deftly handle conflicting priorities and gain alignment across different departments

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

  • Have demonstrated principal level IC capabilities in your career

Company Perks

  • $220,000–$270,000 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

  • 401(k)

  • Paid holidays, generous PTO, and additional unpaid time off

  • Voluntary short-term disability, long-term disability, and life insurance

  • Pre-tax commuter benefits

  • 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.