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Job Title:
Engineering Technician (Supervisory), IS-0802, Grade 11; $71,987 - $93,588 annually
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-Federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:   Open to all qualified candidates eligible to work in the United States.


The purpose of this position is to provide oversight and coordination to the labs at Cambridge Discovery Park (CDP), to supervise machining and technician work and to provide expert mechanical technician fabrication support for the development of space and ground-based astrophysics instrumentation. The position is located in Cambridge, MA.


  1. Manages a technical lab, including laying out lab space and managing lab resources.
  2. Works with scientists and engineers to fabricate highly specialized mechanical parts and assemblies for state-of-the-art scientific instruments. Recommends design approaches and materials selection and works cooperatively with the cognizant design engineer to achieve a final product that best satisfies the technical, cost and schedule requirements of the projects.
  3. Assembles, aligns, tests, and calibrates mechanical sub-assemblies, assemblies, completed instruments and related laboratory support equipment to ensure conformance with the performance requirements of advanced scientific investigations.
  4. Oversees all aspects of in-house mechanical fabrication for CE projects. Analyzes projects’ requirements, prepares machining/fabrication estimates and assigns appropriately skilled technicians to perform the work.
  5. Estimates materials and labor requirements for all in-house machining work and ensures that procurements are made in a timely fashion such that project schedules are met. Makes recommendations for the use of external vendors when in-house resources are insufficient to satisfy project needs. Procures all required shop tooling.
  6. Provides estimates of instrument machining/fabrication budgets for PI’s and senior engineers for inclusion in proposals to NASA and other external funding agencies.
  7. Supervises the staff of the machining and mechanical assembly area. Directs workflow and ensures that all staff are fully assigned to funded work and project schedule and technical requirements are met. Develops effective performance appraisal plans for those he or she supervises and conducts performance reviews that are fair, timely, equitable and constructive. Works closely with safety staff to ensure that all SI/SAO/CE safety requirements for engineering assembly laboratory and machining areas are met and that all technicians receive appropriate training.
  8. Monitors overall SAO project’s requirements for machining and mechanical fabrication/assembly support, adjusting staffing levels as necessary and working closely with the Mechanical Engineering Lead to assure the optimum assignment. Recruits, selects, trains, and continually monitors the performance of supplemental contract technical staff as needed to ensure that the technical and productivity requirements of CE projects are satisfied. Institutes corrective action as necessary.
  9. Develops and implements maintenance and calibration plans for equipment and supports the Mechanical Engineering Lead in long range planning for equipment upgrade or replacement.
  10. Operates metal working machine tools to shape and fabricate precision parts and assemblies in a wide variety of materials including brass, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and other specialized materials as may be required for ground based or NASA space borne instruments. Capable of machining parts to precision tolerances.
  11. May be required to travel to NASA or contractor facilities or remote telescope locations in support of the installation and testing of constructed hardware. Provides hands-on assistance and makes recommendations on problems solving approaches in the field.
  12. Performs other related duties as required.


Qualifying experience for GS-11 includes one year of specialized experience comparable to GS-9 which is directly related to the work of this position and which has equipped the applicant with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position.  Specialized experience is experience that includes mechanical technician work within the industry, handling of chemicals, machining of complex components, programming of CNC machinery using Mastercam, and oversight of a machine shop.

Application Procedures:  We are only accepting online applications for this position. To apply please visit USAJOBS 

Conditions of Employment

You must be fully vaccinated for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.


Have an approved Reasonable Accommodation granting an exemption from vaccine requirements. Please see additional information regarding reasonable accommodations below.  

Additional Vacancy Language Regarding COVID-19

The Smithsonian Institution has a mandate requiring all employees (federal and trust), affiliated staff (including volunteers, interns, and fellows), and the contractors who work with us to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of the employee’s duty location or work arrangement (e.g., onsite, telework, remote work, etc.), subject to such exceptions as required by law. If selected, you will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination by November 22, 2021 or before appointment or onboarding with the Smithsonian Institution, if after November 22. The Smithsonian Institution will provide additional information regarding what information or documentation will be needed and how you can request a legally required exemption from this requirement. This requirement applies to employees, affiliated staff, contractors who are working on-site, and those teleworking in whole or in part. Limited exemptions to the Smithsonian Institution’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be considered on a case-by-case basis for selected candidates who inform the Smithsonian that they cannot be vaccinated because of a disability, including certain medical conditions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers contraindications to the vaccine, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Additional information and instructions regarding Smithsonian’s COVID-19 mandate will be provided at the time of selection.   

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



Learn more about SAO Human Resources

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