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Mechanical Engineer/ 3D Sensor evaluation

Position Description:

The Intelligent Systems Division at NIST is investigating the performance of 3D machine vision systems for various manufacturing applications. The research will focus on conducting experiments and analyzing data in relation to understanding the performance of 3D machine vision systems to support the development of standards for measuring the depth error and depth resolution of these systems, as well as for measuring the performance of systems used for bin picking applications.


The duties will be tailored to fit the applicant’s qualifications and the applicant will be trained on the use of certain systems needed for the following possible duties:

  • Research whether the distribution of the depth error across a single image at a certain distance is “the same” as the distribution of the depth error across a single image taken from a significantly different distance.
  • Research the effects of various factors (part color, part surface properties, bin color, bin depth, ratio of part size to bin size, part distribution in a bin) on bin picking performance (e.g., cycle time, pose uncertainty, etc.).
  • Collect data from various 3D imaging systems.
  • Program collaborative robot arms for conducting various tasks.
  • Use metrology systems (e.g., laser trackers, CMMs, etc.) for establishing reference measurements.
  • Use analysis software (e.g., MATLAB, Spatial Analyzer, Polyworks, Excel, etc.) to interpret results and produce visualizations.
  • Write reports and contribute to peer-reviewed publications.


Not all of the qualifications below are required.

  • Programming experience in one or more of the following computer languages: C++, Python, Java
  • Experience with CAD software such as SolidWorks
  • Experience using MATLAB
  • Experience using 3D printers
  • Basic understanding of robot control theory (DH parameters, kinematics, etc.)
  • Basic understanding of 3D sensors such as LiDAR or RGBD cameras
  • Basic understanding of the Unix/Linux operating systems
  • Basic understanding of programming robot forward and inverse kinematics
  • Working knowledge of 3D point cloud data processing techniques using Point Cloud
  • Library (PCL -, CloudCompare, or other similar tools

Cover letter:

Please include your availability in the cover letter, including approximate dates and hours (full-time or part-time).

What is PREP? 

This position is part of the National Institute of Standards (NIST) Professional Research Experience (PREP) program. NIST recognizes that its research staff may wish to collaborate with researchers at academic institutions on specific projects of mutual interest and thus requires that such institutions be the recipients of a PREP award. The PREP program requires staff from a wide range of backgrounds to work on scientific research in many areas. Employees in this position will perform technical work that underpins the scientific research of the collaboration.  A candidate hired for this position will be through the university that is associated with the NIST PREP program and will be an employee of that University. For example, see  Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) | Professional Research Experience Program (PREP) (