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Job Title:
Computer Engineer, IS-0854, Grade 9; $62,639 to $81,432 annually
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-Federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:  This position requires access to export-controlled work. The candidate must be a U.S. person (citizen, permanent resident, approved asylee or refugee) or be a national of a country eligible to be approved on an export license.

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


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory asks the big science questions:

What do black holes look like?

How do stars and planets form and evolve?

Does life exist outside the solar system? 

At the SAO, engineers work collaboratively with scientists to develop instrumentation that will get us closer to answering these questions. From world-wide telescope arrays that can image black holes to space missions studying solar emissions, this is truly a fantastic place to work.  


Duties may include but are not limited to:

1. Function as a junior software engineer to work on the various astrophysics-based research, operational, and instrumentation projects that CE supports.
2. Collaborates with scientists and multi-disciplinary engineering staff to refine requirements and specifications.
3. Develops unit tests and applies continuous integration to both existing and new software projects
4. Identifies and recommends third party software frameworks and libraries for integration into the overall software system
5. Performs post-design support and troubleshooting of software using hardware and software debugging tools and methods
6. Participates in regular software planning and status reporting activities
7. Contributes to continuous improvement and upkeep of Central Engineering software development best practices
8. Performs other duties as assigned


(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.
(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.

In addition to the Basic Requirements, applicants must have specialized experience:

One year of professional experience  equivalent in difficulty and responsibility to grade 7 level work in the Federal service within or closely related to the position being filled.  Specialized experience for this position would typically be substantive contributions to a commercial or open source software projects.

This position has a mandatory education requirement; you must furnish a copy of your transcript of college work completed (unofficial copy is acceptable) or a copy of your degree certificate. Non-submission may result in you being rated ineligible for the position.
Applicants must meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of this announcement.

Basic qualification requirements can be found at and

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 .

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions.

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

Visit the SAO website at


Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website