HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 17-71
Opening date: September 22, 2017
Closing date: December 15, 2017

TITLE: Electronics Engineer, IS-855, grade 13/14 $94,520.00 to $145,205.00 annually
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund (Non-Federal), Indefinite
DIVISION: - CE Central Engineering Division
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: All qualified candidates who are eligible to work in the United States.

Selection for this position will be made at either the grade 13 or 14. If selection is made at the grade 13, the selectee may be non-competitively promoted to the grade 14 upon recommendation of the Promotion Review Committee for Engineers (PRCE).

First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.


At the Grade 13 Level duties include the following:

Uses knowledge of state-of-the-art to conceive, plan, and execute complex and varied assignments in the electrical engineering required to develop cutting edge instrumentation for astrophysical and astronomical data collection; as well as for its associated test, calibration, and other ground support equipment.

Designs, and oversees development of complex state-of-the-art electrical/electronics systems, subsystems, modules, and components. Provides expert technical consultation to CfA scientists and other engineering staff in instrument electrical design.

Translates scientific objectives into achievable hardware that exploits or extends state-of-the art and advances current technology, and works with scientific investigators to establish the electrical/electronics requirements of new projects. Analyzes scientific data collection requirements, translates these requirements into instrument performance characteristics, and develops instrument concepts and preliminary systems diagrams.

Performs critical trade-off analyses of various methods of implementing designs. Makes and documents recommendations for optimum methods considering both known and anticipated operating environments.

Evaluates manufacturers’ performance capability data for discrete, hybrid, and integrated circuitry, components, and systems. Incorporates analysis results into design decisions.

Prepares cost and schedule estimates for hardware design, fabrication, test, and calibration; including supporting documentation.

Extensively documents work in technical memoranda, reports, test plans, and procedures.

Analyzes complex electronic systems problems encountered on CE projects, identifies and recommends solutions, and oversees their implementation.

Maintains a technical overview of the project in process. Provides technical leadership and direction to, and liaison with, hardware contractors and sub-contractors as required.

Makes both oral and written presentations to project scientists and technical representatives of contracting agencies and cooperating or affiliated organizations: Either singly or in collaboration with project scientists and other engineers, may write technical papers recording innovative design techniques and criteria, and present papers to technical symposia in the specialty field.

Travels, both domestically and internationally, to telescope sites, vendor facilities NASA centers, and the facilities of other associated organizations in support of proposal, design, calibration, test, integration, and mission operations activities.

At the Grade 14 level, duties include those at the grade 13 and:

Defends proposals to funding agency and/or scientific peer review panels in support of the Principal Investigator. Troubleshoots and analyzes complex technical problems encountered on CE projects, identifies and recommends solutions, and oversees their implementation.

From conceptual design through project completion, provides leadership in design and analysis and documentation. Maintains a technical overview of the project in process, and has ultimate responsibility for the design and test integrity of the contract or project end item. Chooses appropriate technologies, establishes technical priorities, and performs conceptual, systems level, and detail design. Prepares cost estimates, schedules, plans, technical reports, and engineering input to project proposals; supervises engineers, designers, and technicians assigned to the project; and maintains engineering budgets and schedules. Provides technical leadership and direction to, and liaison with, hardware contractors and sub-contractors as required.

Investigates, selects, justifies, and oversees procurement of critical electrical, electro-optical, and servo-mechanical components used in astrophysical instrumentation and its development.


For the GS-13 level - Candidates must possess one year of specialized experience at least equivalent to the grade 12 level. Specialized experience is analog and digital circuit design techniques, including low noise / low power analog, and digital to analog / analog to digital converter design with follow-up FPGA-based digital signal processing. Experience with space-level reliability design and system integration and test.

For the GS-14 level - Candidates must possess one year of specialized experience at least equivalent to the grade 13 level. In addition to GS-13 level, specialized experience includes experience deriving specifications for complex, electronics boards and subsystems by flow-down analysis from higher-level instrument requirements.

PART-TIME OR UNPAID EXPERIENCE: Credit will be given for appropriate unpaid work on the same basis as for paid experience. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. To receive credit for such experience you must indicate clearly the nature of the duties and responsibilities in each position held and the average number of hours per week spent in such employment.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS: Degree: professional engineering. To be acceptable, the curriculum must:

(1) be in a school of engineering with at least one curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum; or

(2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress- strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.


a combination of education and experience--college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. OR

Bachelor's degree in computer science or bachelor's degree with 30 semester hours in a combination of mathematics, statistics, and computer science. At least 15 of the 30 semester hours must have included any combination of statistics and mathematics that included differential and integral calculus. All academic degrees and course work must be from accredited or pre-accredited institutions. APPLICANT MUST LIST ALL COLLEGE COURSES.

In addition to meeting basic requirements, applicants must meet specialized experience. Specialized experience is defined above.

Basic qualification requirements can be found at and

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. For complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit: USAJOBS

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

Visit our SAO website.


Section Photo