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Job Title:
Mechanical Engineer, IS-0830, Grade 13; $110,798 to $144,034 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 who is eligible to work in the US. First consideration may be made 14 days from the opening date of this vacancy.


The purpose of the position is to support the Observatory’s scientific investigations by providing mechanical engineering expertise to the development of ground-based instrumentation for astronomical/astrophysical data collection.


1. Designs and develops mechanical aspects of cutting edge scientific instruments for ground based astronomical/astrophysical data collection or laboratory experiments that will include highly complex, precise, large-scale assemblies with multiple components, their support structures, and associated mechanisms and test equipment. Carries designs from initial concept through fabrication, integration, test, debugging, and final assembly to instrument delivery, working cooperatively with engineers from other disciplines such as electrical, structural, and software. Assignments will include the development of precision mechanisms and mechanical packaging for large wide-field optical instruments.

2. Serves as the project Mechanical Group Leader. Organizes and oversees mechanical aspects of assigned hardware from conception through fabrication, assembly, test, and integration. Maintains a technical overview of the task in process and is responsible for the design and test integrity of the resulting hardware. Prepares labor and materials cost estimates, schedules, plans, and technical status reports. Coordinates the work of other engineers, designers, and technicians assigned to detail design and integration activities; and maintains associated engineering budgets and schedules.

3. Conducts engineering analyses, including trade-off analyses, in support of the development of the mechanical aspects of assigned instrumentation to achieve the best compromise between cost, schedule, and performance.

4. Investigates, selects, justifies, and procures critical mechanical, servo-mechanical, and electro-optical components required for instrument development. Conducts vendor surveys and prepares procurement specifications for selected components. Both independently and in cooperation with SAO Product and/or Quality Assurance, reviews hardware and components received to assure compliance with specifications and monitors subsequent assembly and/or installation.

5. Extensively documents work in technical memoranda, reports, test plans, and procedures. Maintains cognizance of, and observes, all CE/SAO Configuration Management policies and procedures that are applicable to the assigned project. Makes both oral and written presentations to CfA scientific and technical personnel, and the staff of cooperating and contracting agencies and organizations. Participates in project design reviews.

6. Provides technical direction to, and both technical and schedule coordination with, other project team members such as machinists, technicians, other ME’s, and engineers in other disciplines; and with technical vendors and/or sub-contractors.

7. Directs mechanical fabrication, assembly, and test activities, both in SAO laboratories and at telescope sites.

8. Performs other related duties as assigned and travels as required to support project activities.


Candidates must possess one year of specialized experience at least equivalent to the grade 12 level. Specialized experience includes experience working to conceive, plan and conduct a wide range of technical investigations in areas relating to the structural systems of space-borne and ground based state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation.

PART-TIME OR UNPAID EXPERIENCE: Credit will be given for appropriate unpaid work on the same basis as for paid experience. Part-time experience will be credited on the basis of time actually spent in appropriate activities. To receive credit for such experience you must indicate clearly the nature of the duties and responsibilities in each position held and the
average number of hours per week spent in such employment.

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 will result in you being rated ineligible for the position.


BASIC REQUIREMENTS: 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.


a 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. OR

Bachelor's degree in computer science or bachelor's degree with 30 semester hours in a combination of mathematics, statistics, and computer science. At least 15 of the 30 semester hours must have included any combination of statistics and mathematics that included differential and integral calculus. All academic degrees and course work must be from accredited or pre-

In addition to meeting basic requirements, applicants must meet specialized experience. Specialized experience is defined above.

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

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