Principal Quality Engineer

Job Ref: 2832918 | Type: Permanent / Full Time

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About The Role

Founded in June 2006 as a center for advanced space systems, Rocket Lab’s goal is to remove the commercial barriers to space by providing frequent launch opportunities to low orbit Earth.
Rocket Lab is rapidly expanding to meet the global demand for our commercial launch service. The Huntington Beach facility is seeking passionate, highly-skilled individuals who are comfortable working in a dynamic, technically challenging environment where they will be given ownership of processes from start-to-finish. We believe that an empowered and motivated workforce has been the cornerstone of our success and will be essential to our long-term growth as we redefine how the world accesses space.

The Principal Quality Engineer will ensure the reliability of flight components and assemblies. This individual will evaluate product and process output data to drive improvements in manufacturing quality, and actively represent quality objectives in design and development teams.

  • Bachelor’s degree in electrical, manufacturing, mechanical or material sciences engineering.
  • 10+ years in a quality, manufacturing, or design engineering role.
  • Developed and recruited a quality department team.
  • Knowledge of quality tools such as Lean principles, Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis and Corrective Action, Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP), Metrology, Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (P-FMEA), Control Plans, and various problem solving approaches.
  • Conducted complete system capacity analysis.  
  • Proven track record of year-on-year process improvement activities.
  • Able to identify new technologies and develop to real shop floor solutions.
  • Has lead major improvement projects. Including Capex, People and process design.
  • Dedicated to adopting a Lean approach to quality without compromising safety or reliability.
  • Developed and maintained budgets and forecasts for a major production area of several years.
  • Conducted both process and design FMEAs resulting in substantial reduction of risk and design changes.
  • Supported production of complex electro-mechanical, mechanical, or composites systems in high-volume work centers and/or during production ramp-up.
  • Able to identify technical solutions to bottlenecks including specification, assessing alternatives, ROI analysis and successful justification in Finance/CAPEX approval process.
  • Successfully introduced new product to shop floor and was part of the pre-development design for manufacture process.


Design for Manufacture
  • Participate in Preliminary Design Review (PDR)/Critical Design Review (CDR) to ensure design for quality (DFQ), design for manufacturability (DFM), risk quantification and mitigation, and that appropriate test validation methods and inspection techniques, including nondestructive evaluation methods, have been considered.
  • Hands-on development of design for manufacturability through ensuring identification of key characteristics, prototype testing for manufacturability, First Article and Detailed Inspection planning, evaluation of previous non-conformances and lessons learned, and other manufacturing and quality tools as required.
Inspection and Test Process
  • Lead inspection planning for new products through identification of features and gages, and integration with planned operations.
  • Design or procures new measurement methods as required and integrates with existing processes.
  • Validate new and existing measurement and tests methods using process capability and measurement systems analysis (MSA) statistical tools. Proposes solutions to remove the need to verify product conformance through measurement, e.g. poka-yoke.
  • Work with Production Quality inspectors to understand inspections with subjective criteria or those that need improvement.
First Build Reviews and Walk downs
  • Coordinate, schedule and facilitate objective First Build Reviews to ensure transparency of design intent, design requirements, design and manufacturing risks, and manufacturability of design.
  • Develop and maintain engineering walk down criteria for major product milestones to provide clear guidance to Production on engineering intent and acceptance criteria.
  • Identify photo closeout requirements for complete as-built documentation.
Evaluate and Analyze Production Quality Landscape
  • Use data to make landscape transparent and drive project prioritization. Responsible for ensuring that issues related to product reliability are primary focus.
  • Drive achievement of quality targets through a review hierarchy with appropriate levels of management.
  • Ensure controls in place to prevent reoccurrence.
Root Cause and Corrective Action Investigations
  • Lead, facilitate, and participate in root cause investigations in their respective area.
  • Deep dive using appropriate quality or analysis tools as required.
  • Ensures documentation of cause and corrective action is captured appropriately.
  • Ensures appropriate actions to prevent recurrence.
  • Lead activity to support containment of all suspect product.
  • Communicate status of evaluation and disposition to production leadership on a regular basis.
  • Guide quality inspectors, techs., and shop supervisors to assist in quarantining of all suspect product.
Problem Review/Audit/Closure
  • Support review of all quality issues in respective area.
  • Ensure rationale and documentation of design deviation is captured.
  • Lead and coordinate the management of non-conforming hardware.
Review of Engineering Masters, Work Orders and drawings (requires MRP)
  • Review and approve Engineering Orders (EO’s), Engineering Masters (EM’s), Work Orders (WO’s), specifications, and product introduction and build documentation for completeness, accuracy, regulatory compliance, and quality objectives.
  • Validate that drawing captures all requirements needed to build and inspect hardware.
  • Develop Inspection plans and modify as required for process or design changes. Ensure inspection/test criteria are objective with clear pass/fail criteria.
Production Process Audit/Improvement
  • Assess new processes for safety and product risks.
  • Ensure adherence to QMS policy and procedures within their work center.
  • Develop criteria and builds audits to identify process weaknesses.

  • Ability to work extended hours, weekends, and offsite as needed.
  • International and domestic travel will be required.

Important Information:
To conform to US Government space technology export regulations, applicants must be a US citizen, lawful permanent resident of the US, protected individual as defined by 8 USC 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorization from the US 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.

For security reasons background checks will be undertaken prior to any employment offers being made to an applicant.  These checks will include nationality checks as it is a requirement of this position that you be eligible to access equipment and data regulated by the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Under these Regulations, you may be ineligible for this role if you do not hold citizenship of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the European Union or a country that is part of NATO, or if you hold ineligible dual citizenship or nationality. For more information on these Regulations, click here.

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