Lead Controls & Automation Engineer - New Development


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Houston, TX
Third Shift

Job Description

As posted by the hiring company

Job Overview:

Patterson-UTI Drilling

The New Standard for Drilling Performance
Drill safer, smarter and faster with Patterson-UTI Drilling’s comprehensive fleet of pad-capable rigs featuring advanced walking systems to enhance your operations so you can reach your apex.


Patterson-UTI’s Drilling Automation team is a growing group of energetic, passionate individuals working to improve our operations through automation. The Lead Controls and Automation Engineer will lead a small team of engineers responsible for the conception, design, development, and maintenance of drilling rig control system(s) software and hardware. The preferred candidate should have a good knowledge of variable frequency drives, drilling rig equipment, and control system software. They will also be responsible to take operational feedback and change requests and make design modifications to optimize performance and functionality of new technologies.


Some example projects that we are developing, testing, and deploying include:

  • Designing drilling advisory systems to improve drilling efficiency
  • Automation of repetitive multistep mechanical tasks in the drilling process such as connections, reaming, and tripping
  • Integration of third-party applications into the control system such as battery energy storage and managed pressure drilling systems 


The successful candidate will set high standards of performance for themselves and their projects, maintain a professional demeanor in written and verbal communications while developing innovative solutions. The candidate will be a technical lead and manage a small group of development engineers.

This role will report to the Senior Manager of Controls and Automation.


Detailed Description:

  • Lead a team developing control algorithms, system architecture and compiling software for PLC/PAC/SBC based systems, HMI design/implementation, data logging, and communication interfaces related to the drilling industry
  • As a ‘player-coach’ be able to provide feedback and guidance to team members and organize employee performance and evaluations for direct reports
  • Provide accurate system diagrams, loop diagrams, block diagrams, and network diagrams for new or existing software systems
  • Generate design documentation, drawings, operation manuals and related material for systems code and hardware
  • Perform as lead engineer on the solutions developed by the team; understand and ensure compliance with the functional descriptions
  • Mine large sets of data to diagnose and resolve dysfunctions within drilling rig control systems
  • Generate work tasks, organize the ordering and delivery of equipment and materials, and oversee the efficient installation and commissioning of software and equipment
  • Work directly with third party contractors, Operations, Technical Services, and HSE management and rig crews to assist with the execution of a wide variety of company goals including, but not limited to, drilling system controls, R&D projects, etc.
  • Provide technical support to field personnel as required to assist with troubleshooting PLC and control system issues
  • Enforce all processes for software change control to ensure that changes are introduced in a controlled and coordinated manner, including documentation and version management


Job Requirements:

  • Ability to lead of a team, managing multiple tasks and working on multiple projects simultaneously to meet challenging deadlines
  • Demonstrate clear written and verbal communication skills and the ability to promptly give, and follow directions
  • Ability to safely navigate the yard and shop work sites with occasional walking, climbing, standing, stepping, etc. during normal operating conditions (day/night, outdoor hot/cold weather)
  • Ability to safely navigate drilling rig work sites including regular walking, climbing, standing, stepping, etc. during various weather conditions (day/night, outdoor hot/cold weather)
  • Ability to proficiently use MS Office Suite to develop presentations, correspondence, reports, and schedules (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Physical ability to:
    • Lift and carry 50 pounds independently while walking on uneven surfaces
    • Bend, stoop, kneel, twist, and crawl occasionally during visits to the field and operational work areas
    • Listen for unusual noises that signify equipment and or machinery problems
    • Stay alert and focused including during occasional extended work periods
    • Maintain spatial orientation and awareness to safely move around the work environment with many moving objects including overhead machinery
    • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all designated times
    • Ability to regularly travel as needed to visit worksites and support business units; may require extended travel to remote locations and/or overnight stay(s) outside normal office area
    • Ability to work on weekends and be on call after hours as needed


Demonstrated ability in the following leadership competencies:

  • Builds and Maintains Effective Relationships
  • Develops Self and Others
  • Builds Effective Teams
  • Courageous Leadership
  • Managing Vision and Purpose
  • Business Acumen
  • Drive for Results
  • Customer Focus
  • Decision Quality


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline or related field not limited to Electrical / Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics, Controls and Automation
  • Proven experience in ladder logic design and implementation
  • 5+ years of HMI development
  • 5+ years of proven experience with PLC/PAC/SBC programming and HMI development
  • Experience with standard communications protocols (Ethernet/IP, Profibus, Profinet, CANBUS, OPC UA, etc.)


Preferred Qualifications                                                                                                     

  • Experience working in a multi-developer environment
  • Proven experience with PLC/PAC/SBC programming related to drilling controls and automation
  • Experience in HMI development using Wonderware / WinCC
  • Experience in Omron PLC programming using CX-One software
  • Experience in deploying solutions using Labview
  • Working knowledge of VFD drives, and related equipment used in the drilling industry, preferably Converteam and Yaskawa VFDs

Certifications: None

Supervisory Responsibilities: Yes


Additional Details:

This position requires the person to be able to work in a time sensitive, high visibility role and regularly travel as needed to support business units and to visit work sites. It may also require extended travel to remote locations and/or overnight stay(s) during variable hours. Variable work hours include hours worked on the weekend, on holidays, and hours to travel within and outside of the assigned region. The Engineer must work with an emphasis on planning, multitasking, and prioritization to maximize efficiency of the team. Must be able to work closely with others and manage customer interaction in a professional manner. Ability to safely navigate work sites with occasional walking, climbing, standing, stepping, working at heights, etc., during normal operating conditions (day/night, outdoor hot/cold weather) and while utilizing designated personal protective equipment (PPE).