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Job Title:
Engineering Technician (Mechanical), IS-0802, Grade 9; $61,268 to $79,650 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.


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


This is the position of Engineering Technician (Mechanical), Central Engineering Department (C.E.), Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The purpose of the position is to provide support to the engineering and scientific staff engage in the development of optical instruments, predominantly in the areas of mechanical assembly and design support.


1. Assists in the overall assembly, alignment, and test of mechanical assemblies to ensure conformance with performance requirements.

2. Assists in the operation and calibration of laboratory support equipment used in assembly and alignment. Disassembles, cleans, lubricates, and reassembles optical stages and other precision equipment. Operates and maintains laboratory cryogenic and high vacuum systems.

3. Performs necessary operations for mechanical assembly, including precision cleaning of parts and assemblies to Class 100 and 1000 standards and mixing of project-specified epoxies. Assists in cleanroom operations.

4. Working from drawings, CAD models and detailed procedures, reviews designs for ease of assembly and machinability. Recommends design and procedural modifications to satisfy these criteria, and works cooperatively with the design engineer to achieve a design that best satisfies the technical, cost and schedule requirements of the project.

5. May be required to travel to customer/contractor facilities or remote telescope locations to support the installation and testing of hardware. Provides hands-on assistance and makes recommendations on approaches to resolve assembly problems that may arise in the field.

6. Assists lab manager with maintaining and configuring the general laboratory environment using cranes, pallet jacks, and other material handling equipment. Also assists with maintaining laboratory thermal ovens and high vacuum equipment.

7. Performs other duties as required.


One year of full-time experience at the GS-8 or equivalent that is close or similar to the work of this position. 

Basic Requirements:

Specialized Experience

Examples of qualifying specialized experience include technical work in: drafting, surveying construction estimating, physical science, mathematics, aerospace, architecture, chemicals, electrical or mechanical systems, mining, petroleum, or nuclear systems.

Experience in a trade or craft may be credited as specialized experience when the work provided intensive knowledge of engineering principles, techniques, methods, and precedents. Examples are trade positions with substantial developmental, test, or design responsibilities such as:

  • Planner and estimator who analyzed designs for production purposes.
  • Instrument maker or model maker who performed design or development work on devices fabricated.

Education: Graduate education or an internship meets the specialized experience only in those instances where it is directly related to the work of the position. Two full years of graduate education or a master's degree meets the requirements for GS-9.

Equivalent combinations of successfully completed graduate education and experience are also qualifying.

For information on qualification requirements, see

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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