Director of Active Microwave Circuits


Isotropic Systems is seeking world class candidates to join a fast-paced, proven team working on cutting edge technology in a successful startup company that brings significant opportunity for the right candidate. 

We are pioneering the introduction of innovative and disruptive low-profile multiple-beam satellite communications terminals for mobile and fixed applications. These highly integrated terminal systems combine elements of new advances in microwave lens optics, phased array antenna technology, and dynamic beam pointing control systems using analog and/or digital signal processing. Our terminal designs operate as fully electronic beam steering systems. Our IP has applications across a wide range of market sectors including: aeronautical, land mobile, maritime, and 5G, providing broadband, multi-beam, two-way communications with dynamic tracking of geostationary and non-geostationary satellites or terrestrial nodes.


Isotropic is seeking an experienced Director of Active Microwave Circuits to manage the design and implementation of the active antenna subsystems of its mobile and fixed tracking antenna terminals, including the specification, design, analysis, and implementation of the transceiver architecture, signal processing, amplification and mixing stages, signal distribution and combination, COTS and custom MMIC specification and development, and integration of the selected circuits into a cost- and power-effective product. The position reports to the Senior Vice President of Engineering. Responsibilities will include designing and simulating beamforming circuit networks, evaluating MMIC technologies, processes, and vendors, designing and testing prototype RF-PCBs, and design for high volume and low-cost manufacturing. The role will also be involved in customer and vendor interactions. The candidate should have a proven track record of microwave circuit design experience in Ku-band and K/Ka-band.

This role will be responsible for all aspects of processing the signals within the satellite antenna terminal with emphasis on power consumption, noise figure and system noise temperature, total output power and antenna EIRP. The Active Microwave Circuits team will work closely with the other technical teams to design, implement, and produce a complete SATCOM terminal. Specifically, the Active Microwave Circuits team will interface with individual antennas, filters, and array layouts developed by the Passive Microwave Circuits team and will work closely with the Terminal Management team to ensure that the control and calibration systems built into the chips and circuitry can properly interact with the control hardware and software. Heat dissipation of the relevant ICs will be managed by coordination with the mechanical engineering team, as will the packaging and environmental considerations and mitigations. With Systems and Passive Microwave Engineering, the Director of Active Microwave Engineering is responsible for maintaining product noise, power, and link budgets.

Of particular importance is the candidate’s appreciation of and proven performance history for high-efficiency and cost-conscious microwave circuit design, simulation and testing. The selection of microwave components that maximize antenna feed network efficiency and provide the multiple-beam coverage over wide fields of view while minimizing costs for new products that are intended to be low cost disruptors into the Satcom markets is critically important. The successful candidate will have a good understanding of phased array beamforming networks with passive and integrated components, both analog and digital. The candidate will be expected to contribute to the design, development, and implementation of module- and terminal-level calibration processes and procedures in prototype and production. Experience in modeling circuit layouts including tolerance information and transitioning the designs to PCB and IC implementations is highly important. Understanding the selection of PCB materials and the cost and performance trades available from different manufacturers, vendors, and material grades is key.

Background in MMIC design and specification is critical to successful completion of our product goals. A strong understanding of the relative performance, cost, and capability trades available between foundries, processes, and implementation methods is necessary.

The Director of Active Microwave Circuits, along with the other Engineering Directors, will be jointly responsible to the SVP Engineering for ensuring that the product vision is realized through excellence in execution such that product lifetime quality metrics, manufacturable cost and performance goals are all met, in programs that are delivered within the project budget and on schedule.

The candidate should have a good understanding of design for manufacturability and cost-effective designs for a wide range of applications from high end aeronautical to low cost consumer broadband terminals.

A strong background in overall communication systems architecture is essential to be able to organize and oversee a multi-disciplinary flow-down of functional subsystem requirements to individual components, MMICs, and circuits. Experience with design, control, calibration, pointing and tracking, and productization of electrically-steered communication terminals is a strong qualifying factor.

The successful candidate will have demonstrated experience in leading a team in the development of active antennas, with strong managerial and technical capability. The Director of Active Microwave Circuits is expected to bring a high degree of creativity and problem-solving capability to search outside the box for new solutions to questions in the design, implementation, and operation of a cost-effective Satcom terminal. In addition, technical leadership is expected in the areas of analysis of complex Antenna systems for all-electronic antenna systems and motion-controlled stabilized platforms, and monitoring and maintaining trends of performance across multiple product lines and customer development projects.

The Director of Active Microwave Circuits will act as an individual contributor towards the development of the terminal, and will also be required to build and manage the daily activities of a world-class product development team including electrical engineering, embedded systems, control systems engineering, PCB design and layout, firmware development, and software development skillsets in-step with product development activities that dovetail into the overall company objectives.

This includes the development of appropriate internal and external procedures and processes that self-manage the design activities in a formal framework of verifiable and accountable reporting.

Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Build an Active Microwave Circuits team that facilitates scale and growth in line with company objectives

  • Manage and report on the daily activities of the Active Microwave Circuits team to deliver designs and products on time and on budget

  • Design approval for all antenna RF circuits, MMICs, and subcomponents

  • Deliver technology and products that meet performance, cost and quality metrics

  • Manage the selection of all microwave components for all products

  • Manage all custom MMIC development activity, including vendor selection and interaction, process selection, specifications, requirements, implementation, testing, acceptance, and production scale-up.

  • Responsible for maintaining BOM contributions of RF boards and components to terminal BOM

  • Lead RF PCB design selection of vendors, materials, processes, and tolerances

  • Lead the procurement of prototype and production PCBs locally and overseas

  • Manage lab and live testing and calibration of the terminal components

  • Manage the design and development of transceiver architecture, MMIC specifications and implementation while satisfying link, cost, and power budgets, signal combination, signal conditioning, up- and down-conversion, and multi-beam beamforming.

  • Drive continuous improvement initiatives in the areas of analysis, design, and performance of the RF performance and cost within our terminal products

  • Support the certification of products under electrical, regulatory, and operational standards

  • Manage multiple programs/products simultaneously and able to manage through times of conflicting and dynamic priorities

  • Provide effective and efficient design support during the conceptual design, detailed design, integration, and test phases of a product development program, with the goal of achieving on-time and budget completion of assigned tasks

  • Drive the specification, selection, and use of relevant software and hardware tools to support design, development, and production activities.

  • Prepare and present design and analysis summary material during internal and external design reviews

  • Contribute towards Company design procedures and corporate policies

  • Other tasks, as assigned from time to time

Skills and/or Needed Experience:

  • BS, MS, or Ph.D. in Electrical, Communications, Microwave, or related Engineering discipline

  • 10+ years of experience in the fields of Microwave Circuits, MMIC Development, Antenna Design, Phased Arrays, Signal Processing, Systems Engineering, RF engineering, and Engineering Management

  • Exceptional leadership ability

  • Background in control systems engineering with associated hardware and software development

  • Understanding of requirements and process of satellite antenna tracking

  • Translation of system requirements into detailed subsystem, software, and component specifications, accounting for the environment in which the product is to operate

  • Extensive experience in working with industry standard software and hardware design, integration, testing, and troubleshooting

  • Experienced in writing analysis reports and summaries

  • Thorough knowledge of the available foundries, processes, architectures, and costs available for MMIC devices meeting the product requirements

  • Experience with microwave circuit simulations simulation tools such as HFSS

  • Experience with circuit layout and modeling tools such as Altium

  • Experience with RF-grade PCB procurement for prototype and production, including cost expectations for global production

  • Understanding of the trades inherent to designing a mass-manufacturable PCB, including material and process selection

  • Understanding of PCB and MMIC testing and qualification steps and requirements, in prototype and production

  • Technically proficient in MS Office products

  • Must have substantial problem-solving abilities

Other Abilities:

  • Background in phased array development highly desirable

  • Background in satcom terminal design and commercialization highly desirable

  • Ability to communicate calmly in a well thought out response, verbal and written

  • Experience in Avionic component development and release process, including implications of certification processes such as ARINC and DO-160 (Desirable)

  • Proficiency with standard scientific computing toolkits, languages, and packages, such as Matlab/Python etc. (Preferred)

  • Understanding of industry-standard design, modeling, and manufacturing preparation tools (PCB schematic capture/layout, CAD/CAM)

  • Interpersonal skills to effectively work with Isotropic staff internally as well as working effectively with suppliers and customers

  • Ability to effectively present information in team meetings and design reviews as needed

  • Experience in development of SATCOM terminals (Desirable)

  • Ability to travel on request (not expected to exceed 20%)

Job Details:

  • Full-time

  • Location: Linthicum, MD or United Kingdom

  • Isotropic Systems offers a highly competitive compensation package (salary and equity), excellent benefits (including comprehensive medical/dental/vision benefits in the US, paid vacations, US 401k plan option and UK pension contributions, stocked pantries, fridges and coffee) and an environment that recognizes and rewards your contributions.


Isotropic Systems is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, non-disqualifying disability, or any other basis covered by applicable laws. We base all hiring decisions on candidate qualifications and business needs.

John Finney