HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 18-14
Opening date: March 9, 2018
Closing date: April 23, 2018

TITLE:Computer Engineer, GS-0854, Grade 13; $96,411 - $125,335 /yr
TYPE OF POSITION: Federal Career/Career-Conditional
LOCATION: Cambridge, MA
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to current and former Federal employees with permanent status or reinstatement eligibility. Individuals who are eligible for a special appointing authority may also apply; such as applicants with a disability, former Peace Corps volunteers, certain military spouses, veterans seeking a VRA/VEOA appointment, or veterans who have been separated from armed forces under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of continuous active service.


The Submillimeter Array (SMA) is a pioneering radio interferometer located on the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii, capable of astronomical observations in the submillimeter band at frequencies from 180 GHz to 420 GHz that address a diverse array of astrophysical questions. The SMA is a joint project of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA). SMA staff and operations are located at multiple sites: SAO in Cambridge, Massachusetts; ASIAA in Taipei, Taiwan; the SMA support facility in Hilo, Hawaii; and the observatory facility on Maunakea.

The SMA is a major scientific facility in continuous operation and under continuous development to take advantage of new technology to upgrade its performance. Currently, work is underway to increase the bandwidth of the receivers, increase the capacity of the data transmission system, upgrade the digital correlator, and extend the SMA’s polarimetry capability. Longer-term, the SMA has embarked on a major upgrade, the wSMA, which will further extend its capabilities. These upgrades to the SMA include a substantial computer hardware and software systems development effort.


The duties of this position include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Develop new software to enhance the SMA’s observing efficiency and to add new observing modes, and assist in migration of existing software from legacy proprietary operating systems such as LynxOS to open source Linux-based systems.

* Write and debug software that controls and synchronizes concurrent real-time processes running on diverse distributed hardware systems, including telescope pointing and tracking, instrument configuration, signal processing, data acquisition, and data storage.

* Write and debug parallel code for data acquisition and offline processing, including code that interacts with stream processing data acquisition hardware. Write and maintain device drivers.

* Develop software for web-based monitoring of real-time systems, and other software for visualizing operational and astronomical data from radio telescopes.

* Devise and maintain regression tests for real-time and offline SMA software.

* Perform other assignments as required.


In addition to the Basic Requirements, applicants must meet the following:

Specialized experience for this position would typically include work with microwave electronics, submillimeter astronomy, signal processing, signal transmission, systems engineering of complex systems, and supervision of technical workgroup.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

Part-time and/or unpaid experience related to this position will be considered to determine the total number of years and months of experience. Be sure to note the number of paid or unpaid hours worked each week.

Education cannot be substitute at this grade level.



(A) 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. OR

(B) 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.

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