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Job Title:
Supervisory Electrical Engineer, GS - 0850, Grade 13; $95,012 - $123,516 annually
Type of Position:
Federal, Permanent
Job Location:
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:


The Submillimeter Array (SMA) is comprised of eight relocatable antennas and associated instrumentation, the SMA is an interferometer array for astronomical observations at submillimeter wavelengths, between 180 GHz and 420 GHz. A new generation of instrumentation is now under development in labs at SAO (Cambridge) and ASIAA (Taipei) to enhance the SMA’s scientific capabilities. The SMA is a technically specialized scientific research facility in continuous operation, 24 h per day. 

Clarification from the agency

This position is open to all U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals. Note: Federal employees with permanent status or individuals eligible for special appointing authorities may also apply to Job Announcement JP 22-09.


The employee is responsible for providing professional electrical engineering leadership to SMA technical staff in the design, development, deployment, evaluation, testing, and maintenance of the specialized systems comprising the telescope.

  1. Provide professional electrical engineering leadership to SMA technical staff in the design, development, deployment, evaluation, testing, and maintenance of existing and future antenna systems, with particular emphasis on the electronically controlled servomechanical drives. Track the status and ongoing performance of SMA antennas and subsystems. Oversee maintenance activities to sustain array performance and readiness. Implement a maintenance schedule coordinated with resource availability and with staff schedules. Balance deployment of new equipment with ongoing science observations using existing systems. Oversee array reconfigurations. Maintain an inventory of critical spares to ensure minimal disruption of operations in case of component failure. Prepare associated documentation in accordance with SMA standards. Disseminate status and performance information through oral presentations and written reports.
  2. Provide professional general engineering leadership for the design, development, deployment, evaluation, testing, and maintenance of existing and future SMA facility systems, including electrical distribution systems; HVAC, chillers, and other mechanical systems; mechanical assemblies; and hydraulic powered machinery.
  3. Engage and supervise contractors and consultants as necessary. Prepare technical specifications and statements of work. Conduct market research and gather cost estimates and quotes.
  4. Supervise a portion of the SMA technical staff. Assign projects and tasks; prepare performance plans and perform performance appraisals; approve work schedules, leave, and overtime; resolve conflicts and take disciplinary action when required; nominate staff for awards to reward exceptional performance; give advice, counsel, or instruction to staff on both technical and administrative matters; determine training needs and arrange training as appropriate; and interview and hire new staff when vacancies occur.

Basic Requirements for Electrical Engineer:
Degree: Engineering. 
To be acceptable, the program must:

(1) lead to a bachelor's degree in a school of engineering with at least one program accredited by ABET; 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.


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 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.

The adequacy of such background must be demonstrated by one of the following:

1. Professional registration or licensure -- Current registration as an Engineer Intern (EI), Engineer in Training (EIT)1, or licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board's eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.

2. Written Test -- Evidence of having successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE)2 examination or any other written test required for professional registration, by an engineering licensure board in the various States, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico.

3. Specified academic courses - Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and that included the courses specified in A above. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of an engineering program.

4. Related curriculum - Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in an appropriate scientific field, e.g., engineering technology, physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance. Ordinarily there should be either an established plan of intensive training to develop professional engineering competence, or several years of prior professional engineering-type experience, e.g., in interdisciplinary positions.


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

One year of specialized experience which includes work with electromechanical servo systems, electrical distribution systems, mechanical facility systems, submillimeter astronomy, systems engineering of complex systems, and supervision of a technical workgroup.

You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience. Your resume must clearly describe your relevant education and experience.

Conditions of Employment

You must be fully vaccinated for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with a 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.  

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.   

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


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