Workplace Diversity
Senior Composites Engineer, Automated Fiber Placement

Senior Composites Engineer, Automated Fiber Placement

companyRocket Lab
locationMiddle River, MD, USA
PublishedPublished: 5/25/2024
Full Time


Rocket Lab is a global leader in launch and space systems. The rockets and satellites we build and launch enable some of the most ambitious and vital space missions globally, supporting scientific exploration, Earth observation and missions to combat climate change, national security, and exciting new technology demonstrations. Our Electron rocket has provided reliable access to orbit since 2018, becoming one of the most frequently launched rockets in the world. Neutron will be our next rocket on the launch pad, an advanced 13-tonne payload class, reusable rocket to launch the mega constellations of the future. Our space systems business includes our extensive line of satellites and components that have enabled more than 1,700 missions including the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA Psyche Mission, Artemis I, Mars Ingenuity helicopter, and more.  

Join our pioneering team and launch your career to new heights!


Neutron is a medium lift launch vehicle designed to deliver the mega constellations of tomorrow, high assurance payloads, with the potential for human spaceflight too. As a reusable launch platform, Neutron will deliver a highly cost-effective and reliable launch solution leveraging Rocket Lab’s proven execution history with the Electron program. If you’re interested in joining a high performing team, pushing the boundaries with a clean sheet development of reusable liquid launch vehicle, this is your opportunity!


Rocket Lab is installing the world’s largest post-style automated fiber placement machine (AFP) at our Space Structures Complex in Middle River in order to build large scale components for our new Neutron Launch Vehicle.  As a Senior Composites Engineer you’ll get to build some of the largest carbon fiber composite fuselage structures ever made using cutting edge technologies and space grade materials.   


  • Manage final installation and qualification of AFP machine, supporting equipment, and environmental enclosure. 
  • Become the subject matter expert for the AFP process within Rocket Lab. 
  • Interface with equipment supplier and be the primary point of contact for troubleshooting and upgrades 
  • Learn how to program the AFP machine 
  • Develop production processes and ensure they are accurately and clearly documented, including testing procedures, health and safety requirements and supervisor sign-offs 
  • Design, develop, and implement tooling and equipment for use in a production environment where reqluired to achieve safety, quality, delivery and cost requirements 
  • Lead problem containment and structured root cause & corrective action investigations 
  • Quickly analyze and resolve manufacturing discrepancies and non-conformances 
  • Introduce automation where appropriate and ensure equipment data links directly to MRP and quality systems 
  • Develop and mentor less experienced engineers and technicians daily   


  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical, aerospace, or manufacturing engineering, or other technical degree. 
  • 5 + years of composites experience.  
  • Experience in the selection, procurement, and installation of composite manufacturing equipment.   
  • Experience working with and/or programming heavy equipment (robot, CNC, etc) 


  • Experience with Automated Fiber Placement 
  • Experience with capacity modeling, process mapping, Lean/Six Sigma and value stream mapping.  
  • Strong foundation working with CAD (We use NX).  
  • Experience both Autoclave and Out-of-Autoclave composite manufacturing techniques.  
  • Experience with Non-Destructive Testing/Inspection of composite components.  
  • Experience in qualification and acceptance testing of composite structural components.  


  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to focus.    
  • Regularly required to sit, use hands and fingers, operate computer keyboard and controls, and communicate verbally and in writing.   
  • Must be physically able to commute to buildings  
  • Occasional exposure to dust, fumes and moderate levels of noise.  


We’re on a mission to unlock the potential of space to improve life on Earth, but that’s not an easy task. It takes hard work, determination, relentless innovation, teamwork, grit, and an unwavering commitment to achieving what others often deem impossible. Our people out-think, out-work and out-pace. We pride ourselves on having each other’s backs, checking our egos at the door, and rolling up our sleeves on all tasks big and small. We thrive under pressure, work to tight deadlines, and our focus is always on how we can deliver, rather than dwelling on the challenges that stand in the way.   

Important information:


To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Rocket Lab Employees must be a U.S. citizen, lawful U.S. permanent resident (i.e., current Green Card holder), or lawfully admitted into the U.S. as a refugee or granted asylum, or be eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State and/or the U.S. Department of Commerce, as applicable. Learn more about ITAR here.

Rocket Lab provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment at Rocket Lab, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for the application/interview process for a job in the United States should contact Giulia Biow at dedicated resource is intended solely to assist job seekers with disabilities whose disability prevents them from being able to apply/interview. Only messages left for this purpose will be considered. A response to your request may take up to two business days.


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 ITAR Regulations.