Job

Research Software Engineer, Lifelong Kindergarten

by Jessica Sisavath

Dec. 15, 2020

Job Description

The Lifelong Kindergarten (LLK) group at the MIT Media Lab is seeking to hire an experienced software engineer to lead the development and contribute to research of new programmable applications to expand creative and playful learning opportunities for children internationally. 

Background:

The Lifelong Kindergarten group (LLK) at the MIT Media Lab develops new technologies, activities, and communities to engage young people, from all backgrounds, in creative learning experiences. Our work interweaves research, practice, and outreach. We are deeply committed to improving the lives of young people, especially those from communities that face systemic inequities and injustices.

With Scratch (scratch.mit.edu), children create interactive stories, games, and animations and share their projects in a dynamic online community. Scratch is provided free of charge and is used by millions of young people in homes, schools, and community centers around the world. The Lifelong Kindergarten team led the first 12 years of development of Scratch and continues to collaborate on research and new initiatives in collaboration with the Scratch Foundation. 

Position Overview: 

The Research Software Engineer will be an integral part of the research team developing and studying a new generation of mobile-phone apps that enable young people to express themselves creatively with code, building on the success of the Scratch programming language. The Research Software Engineering will lead the iterative development of these apps, working closely with other members of the team on experimenting, testing, and studying the use of the apps in a variety of different contexts. A major goal of this work is to expand creative and playful learning opportunities for young people around the world, especially for those who do not currently have access to Scratch or other creative coding tools. 

The individual in this position will work closely with researchers, educators, and graduate students in the LLK group, and also collaborate with our educational partners, including the interdisciplinary team at the Scratch Foundation. 

Responsibilities

  • Lead the planning, prototyping, and development of creative coding apps for mobile phones
  • Conduct research on apps through experiments and field testing  
  • Lead effective product-engineering development practices
  • Brainstorm project design in collaboration with other members of the LLK group
  • Set short-term and long-term technical direction and scope for new learning technology projects
  • Prioritize project plans in alignment with group goals
  • Ensure engineering resources are dedicated appropriately
  • Select and implement server technologies to support mobile app projects
  • Help guide and incorporate feedback from playtests 
  • Communicate and collaborate with the Scratch Foundation and other partners
  • Manage ongoing troubleshooting and maintenance of applications

Reports to Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab

This is a one-year full-time appointment with the possibility of extension based on the course of research and funding. 

Qualifications

REQUIRED:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science/computer engineering, or related fields
  • Experience leading software production from conception to deployment 
  • Experience managing iterative software development process
  • Experience working as part of a university research team
  • Minimum of 5 years experience as a professional software developer
  • Experience developing, instrumenting, debugging and optimizing front-end applications (e.g., Javascript)
  • Experience developing apps for iOS and Android platforms.
  • Comfortable with a variety of programming paradigms, including server-side technologies.
  • Passionate about learning new technologies and building delightful user experiences
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills
  • Interest and experience working with people from diverse backgrounds

PREFERRED:

  • Masters degree in computer science/computer engineering, or related fields
  • Experience developing educational software 
  • Experience developing creative software
  • Experience developing programming language interpreters
  • Experience creating software that runs on a wide variety of hardware, including low-cost/legacy mobile phones
  • Experience with Scratch code base, including Scratch VM and Scratch 3.0 blocks
  • Experience with localization / translation workflows

US work authorization is required. The position is based at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA.

To apply, go to https://hr.mit.edu/careers and search for job ID# 19168.

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