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Job Title:
IT Specialist (Solutions Architect), IS - 2210-14; $130,929 - $170,205 per year
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all qualified candidates. This is NOT a federal position.

Note:   First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening of this vacancy.

INTRODUCTIONSAO is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. Its programs range from ground-based astronomy and astrophysics research to space-based research, the engineering and development of major scientific instrumentation for space launch and use in large ground-based facilities, and research designed to improve science education. The research objectives of SAO are carried out primarily with the support of Government and Smithsonian Institution funds, with additional philanthropic support.  Government funds are in the form of Federal appropriations or the form of contracts and grants from other agencies. In contrast, Institution funds are available to SAO through grants from the Institution's Restricted Funds, Special Purpose Funds, Bureau Activities, Business Activities, and non-Federal contracts and grants.

PURPOSE OF THE POSITION: The Solutions Architect position is pivotal in designing, developing, and implementing complex information technology solutions that align with the organization's business strategies and technological goals. This position involves collaborating with various stakeholders, including project managers, developers, and system administrators, to create innovative and efficient solutions that address current and future needs.


  • Lead the design and development of high-level and detailed technical architectures for complex IT solutions, including large data consolidation solutions and hyperconverged infrastructure, ensuring they meet business requirements, security standards, scalability, and performance goals.
  • Evaluate and select appropriate technologies, platforms, and frameworks to build robust, cost-effective, multi-tenant architectures. Provide expertise in cloud architecture, integration patterns, data modeling, and application design.
  • Collaborate with other team members and stake holders looking to deploy CF sponsored solutions or programs such as MPC, ADS, and AstroAI  to understand needs, translate business requirements into technical specifications, and recommend suitable solutions.
  • Conduct a thorough analysis of existing systems, applications, and infrastructure to identify optimization, modernization, and enhancement opportunities.
  • Serve as a technical authority for design discussions, providing insights and best practices to programs and organizational leadership.  Expected to provide guidance, information, costing and recommendations on technology along with following through on implementation to ensure successful solution deployment. 
  • Create comprehensive architecture documentation, including diagrams, design patterns, guidelines, and standards to ensure clear communication and knowledge transfer for internal IT teams as well as programs.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams, including project managers, scientists, and developers, to ensure alignment and successful delivery of solutions.
  • Identify potential technical risks, challenges, and bottlenecks within proposed solutions and provide mitigation strategies. Ensure solutions comply with relevant industry standards, data privacy regulations, and security policies.
  • Develop PoCs and prototypes to validate new technologies, concepts, and design patterns before full-scale implementation.
  • Work with industry vendors such as Netapp, DellEMC, VMware, and Cisco to negotiate configurations and related pricing for complex solutions. Stay current with industry trends, emerging technologies, and best practices to drive innovation and improvement within the organization. 
  • Performs other related duties as assigned


For all positions individuals must have IT-related experience demonstrating each of the four competencies listed below.

Attention to Detail - Is thorough when performing work and conscientious about attending to detail.

Customer Service - Works with clients and customers (that is, any individuals who use or receive the services or products that your work unit produces, including the general public, individuals who work in the agency, other agencies, or organizations outside the Government) to assess their needs, provide information or assistance, resolve their problems, or satisfy their expectations; knows about available products and services; is committed to providing quality products and services.

Oral Communication - Expresses information (for example, ideas or facts) to individuals or groups effectively, taking into account the audience and nature of the information (for example, technical, sensitive, controversial); makes clear and convincing oral presentations; listens to others, attends to nonverbal cues, and responds appropriately.

Problem Solving - Identifies problems; determines accuracy and relevance of information; uses sound judgment to generate and evaluate alternatives, and to make recommendations.
In addition to the basic requirements listed above, candidates must possess a minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 13 in the normal line of progression for this occupation. Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as the major duties listed above.

Qualification requirements must be met within 30 days of the job opportunity announcement closing date. For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at

How You Will be Evaluated: Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

  • Expert knowledge and experience designing and implementing large data consolidation solutions and hyperconverged infrastructure.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, with the ability to think strategically while maintaining attention to detail.
  • Outstanding communication and presentation abilities, conveying complex technical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Expert knowledge of various operating platforms, including Windows Server, Unix and Linux (Redhat, Centos, Rocky) and their unique requirements, connection methods, and interfaces.
  • Mastery knowledge of IT disciplines, including network, virtualization, cloud, compute, storage, backup, and recovery.
  • Expert understanding of federal cybersecurity standards and regulations, including NIST (e.g., NIST SP 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework), FISMA, and other relevant guidelines.
  • Expert knowledge of authentication protocols, including Kerberos, SAML, and tokens.  Comprehensive experience with Active Directory design principles, group policy, connection methods and transport protocols.

Required Documents: To receive consideration, applicants must submit all of the following:

  • CV

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

Conditions of Employment: 

  • Successful completion of a pre-employment background investigation.                                                                   
  • A one-year probationary period is required.         

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

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