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Job Title:
Computer Engineer, IS-0854, Grade 13; $105,654 to $137,348 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? 

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. The position is in Cambridge Mass.


PURPOSE OF THE POSITION: Provide support to the engineering and scientific staff, predominantly in the area of software development.

1. Function as a lead software engineer to provide innovative solutions to complex technical problems related on the various astrophysics-based research, operational, and instrumentation projects that CE supports.
2. In cooperation with software engineering and technical staff, develops and executes plans for the testing of software interfaces to relational databases. Collaborates with scientists and multi-disciplinary engineering staff to refine requirements, specifications, schedules and budget constraints.
3. Provides work assignments and instruction, sets deadlines and priorities and monitors costs and schedules. Prepares cost estimates for design, construction, and testing activities.
4. Documents work in technical reports, memoranda, and/or scientific papers or presentations. Ensures that final documentation accurately reflects modifications made in the field when applicable.
5. Maintains currency with the evolution of software, computer, and hardware to verify that the most appropriate technologies are applied to instrument software peripherals.
6. Develops unit tests and applies continuous integration to both existing and new software projects.
7. Performs post-design support and troubleshooting of software using hardware and software debugging tools and methods.
8. Participates in regular software planning and status reporting activities.
9. Contributes to continuous improvement and upkeep of Central Engineering software development best practices.
10. 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 12 level work in the Federal service within or closely related to the position being filled.  Specialized experience for this position would typically include experience with building and configuring high speed networks and data storage systems, and developing low level I/O software for optimal data storage rates; experience in developing and maintaining monitor and control software; experience in advanced software project management; experience being a responsible software project lead involving other team members where project was executed to successful completion.

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

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

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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