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Caltech Optical Observatories (COO) is seeking a talented senior mechanical engineer to join its Optical and Infrared (OIR) Instrumentation group. The OIR group designs, fabricates, and commissions astronomical instrumentation systems for Palomar, Gemini, Keck, and the planned Thirty Meter Telescope Observatories, while fostering a community of respect, learning, and individual growth. The qualified mechanical engineer will lead instrument and mechanical subsystem conceptualization, detailed design, mechanical fabrication, system integration, testing, and commissioning of state-of-the-art instrumentation pushing back the frontiers of planetary science, astronomy, and cosmology.
This position is based on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California, but requires occasional travel to Palomar Mountain, San Diego, California and Maunakea, Hawaii. COO encourages a healthy work-life balance, with work schedule flexibility and results-oriented performance evaluation and mentorship.
The Successful Candidate Will:
Demonstrate Customer Focus: Demonstrate a concern for the needs and expectations of customers (internal or external); focus efforts on identifying and meeting the needs of customers; use an understanding of customer needs as the basis for decision-making and organizational action; build strong relationships of trust with customers
Make Good Decisions: Apply logic and practical thinking to decision making; gather necessary input and data from multiple sources to inform decisions and make decisions based on one's best thinking given time available; draw correct and reasonable conclusions based on data and information; make decisions in a timely manner regardless of pressure or uncertainty; make decisions quickly when called to do so; consider budgetary impact of decisions
Plan / Organize: Determine objectives and strategies required to deliver results; allocate resources according to organizational priorities; determine how to use resources efficiently to accomplish a task or project; consider budgetary impact of decisions
Demonstrate Technical Knowledge and Skills: Apply technical and professional skill or knowledge in position-related areas; keep up with current developments and trends in areas of expertise
Build Trusting Partnerships: Develop and leverage collaborative relationships with internal and external colleagues based on mutual trust to facilitate the accomplishment of work goals; work cooperatively with stakeholders to identify and meet mutual goals
Clearly Communicate: Clearly and succinctly convey information and ideas to individuals and groups; shape communication to the needs of the audience; convey ideas and opinions clearly to others; share relevant information and expectations openly, honestly and in a timely fashion; listen attentively to others
Actively Learn: Demonstrate zeal for new information, knowledge, and experiences; regularly seek and capitalize on learning opportunities; quickly assimilate and apply new information
Demonstrate Agility / Flexibility: Be open to changing conditions; adjust one's own behavior in light of changing conditions; adjust effectively to work within new work structures, processes, requirements, or cultures
Essential Job Duties
Provide and coordinate mechanical engineering support of Caltech's astronomical instrumentation program, from conceptual design to commissioning, of highly sophisticated research instruments on major astronomical telescopes
Perform mechanical systems engineering, including capture and flow-down of intricate mechanical requirements, and development of critical performance budgets and detailed cost estimates
Perform advanced mechanical design, component specification, tolerancing, drawing, procurement, and fabrication oversight of state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation
Conduct detailed finite element and thermal performance analyses of ambient and cryogenic opto-mechanical systems accurately and efficiently
Coordinate mechanical assembly, integration, and verification of sophisticated optoelectromechanical subsystems with emphasis on safety, efficiency, reliability, and quality
Develop, execute, and deliver instrumentation documentation, including technical notes, quantitative analyses, design documentation, alignment and test plans, verification results
Guide the development of new/enhanced measurement techniques and manage the collection of metrology equipment, including calibration and troubleshooting when needed
Direct the testing and validation of instrument optomechanical performance across thermal and environmental use cases
Consult with and advise researchers and/or students with the design, set-up, or modifications of experiments and independent projects
Participate in strategic planning, conceptualization, and proposal preparation for new instrument concepts alongside Principal Investigators
Perform other related duties as assigned
M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent
8+ years' experience, including demonstrated independent design responsibility for precision mechanics, optomechanics, and cryogenic and/or vacuum systems
Fluency with modern solid modeling software, rapid prototyping, traditional part and assembly drawing, and reduced dimensioning fabrication techniques
Demonstrated leadership creating manufacturing drawing packages, interface control specifications, and supporting documents
Excellent oral and written communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills are essential
Must work well within technical and scientific teams
Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines and execute complex quotations and procurement efforts
High-level proficiency in a significant number of the following technical areas: static and dynamical load analyses, FEA, mechanism design, GD&T, PDM tools, quality assurance, thermal analysis and design, structural engineering, thermal and flexure compensation, mounting of large and precise optics, vacuum systems, machining operations, EDM, additive manufacture techniques, and/or robotics
Occasional travel and work assignments at high altitudes and in limited light environments; requires a successful pre-employment physical, including vision screening
Possess a valid driver's license and maintain it throughout the course of employment
Ability to lift at least 20 lbs.
M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering
8+ years' experience with complex SolidWorks assemblies, hands-on experience with optical instrumentation, infrared camera systems, and/or cryogenic vacuum systems, or equivalent work or military experience
Superior knowledge of optomechanical and thermal design principles and analysis techniques
Detailed understanding of manufacturing processes and experience working closely with machine shops and fabricators
Strong collaborative communication skills working within a diverse, multicultural, and international teaming environment
Superior knowledge of analysis/FEA tools (e.g., CosmosWorks or ANSYS)
Professional experience with commercial optical design tools (e.g., ZEMAX, CODE V)
Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
Caltech Optical Observatories (COO) is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Caltech supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to broaden participation and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce.
We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.
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