Prototype Engineer

Archived (Posted on 02.14.2024)

The Prototype Engineer will design and implement backend systems while collaborating with a diverse team to develop innovative software prototypes to promote constructive dialogue and bridge divides.


A unique aspect of the Center is the focus on deployed long running research prototypes that people can put to use in real world contexts. This provides opportunities to apply cutting edge technologies to research frontiers, and enable experimentation with a rich ecosystem of data and infrastructure. We do much of this work in cooperation with Cortico, a non-profit that works closely with the Center and is a key collaborator for deploying validated prototypes.

The Center is looking for a Prototype Engineer with experience designing and implementing backend systems, with an openness to engage in frontend development as necessary. In our small, dynamic development team, a devops mindset is crucial for empowering both our immediate team and our fellow researchers. This role involves not only developing lightweight experimental software but also building and maintaining the necessary infrastructure to support these deployments. The successful candidate will be pivotal in enabling the deployment of prototypes at all stages of development, contributing to a culture of innovation and collaboration within the Center.


Fostering collaborations across the MIT campus and beyond, the MIT Center for Constructive Communication (CCC), based at the MIT Media Lab, leverages data-driven analytics to better understand current social and mass media ecosystems and designs new tools and communication networks to foster constructive dialogue, listening, and bridging across divides. To achieve this, CCC brings together researchers in AI, computational social science, digital interactive design, and learning technologies with software engineers, journalists, political scientists, designers, and community organizers. An important aspect of the center is its commitment to design new models for more trusted and less toxic social networks.


Application Development (60%)

  • Independently scope, design, and develop a range of lightweight applications and software prototypes aligned with research needs.
  • Participate in agile development practices, including planning, stand-ups, and retrospectives, to ensure timely delivery of iterations and responsiveness to feedback and changing requirements in a mixed research and production setting.
  • Ensure the reliability and quality of prototypes by following best practices in developing software prototypes, including documenting code and conducting code reviews.
  • Investigates the feasibility of new research directions and technologies.

Cloud & Data Infrastructure Engineering (20%)

  • Utilize in-depth knowledge of AWS products to optimize infrastructure and data pipelines for performance, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Build and maintain AWS serverless infrastructure for streamlined prototype deployments, including server setup, database management, and technology integration.
  • Design, implement, and maintain data pipelines, ensuring efficient data flow and storage.
  • Interprets and implements research methodology based on the outcome of the analysis.
  • Implement monitoring solutions to assess system performance and data pipeline health, and set up alerting for system issues.
  • Oversees development of data collection and instruments.

Communication & Coordination (20%)

  • Collaborate with researchers and engineers to align prototype development with evaluation criteria. This includes participating in interdisciplinary meetings and brainstorming sessions.
  • May train other research or technical personnel on advanced techniques and methods.
  • Excellent and flexible communication skills, whether with members of an engineering team, non-engineering coworkers, or researchers.
  • Participate in planning projects at different stages of development, prioritizing tasks, and communicating status.

Qualifications and Skills

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in computer science or related field
  • 4+ years of experience in a full-stack software engineering role.
  • 2+ years experience in a data engineering role.
  • Experience in Python, particularly with frameworks like Flask or Django.
  • Experience in JavaScript, particularly in frameworks like React and React Native.
  • Experience setting up and maintaining software systems, including deployments, monitoring, and troubleshooting, using cloud services such as AWS and Terraform.

Preferred Qualifications

  • An interest in both cutting edge developments in AI and how they can be used safely and responsibly.
  • Experience working with researchers, designers, software developers, and data scientists.
  • Experience working in the civic tech space.
  • Ability to work effectively in a fast pace, uncertain environment, pivoting as research needs develop.

Employment is contingent upon the completion of a satisfactory background check.
This position is based in the Cambridge, MA area.