HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 18-66
Opening date: August 15, 2018
Closing date: February 28, 2019

TITLE: Electronics Engineer, IS-855, grade 14; $113,929.00 to $148,108.00 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.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.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.

3. From conceptual design through project completion, provides leadership in design, 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.

4. May serve in Control Account Manager (CAM) role for electronics related tasks on larger projects in addition to other duties.

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

6.May fill multiple roles on smaller projects, including Project Engineer technical oversight, Project Manager (cost tracking, task estimation), System and Lead Design Engineer, and work directly with drafting design and technicians for building and testing hardware – through delivery.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Performs other assignments as required.


Candidates must possess one year of specialized experience at least equivalent to the grade 13 level. Specialized experience such as knowledge of electrical systems state-of-the-art to conceive, plan, and execute complex and varied assignments; translates scientific requirements into pioneering technology to be applied to the development of cutting edge astronomical/astrophysics instruments in support of the advance of Observatory scientific research objectives.

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.

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.


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