Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.
Caltech Optical Observatories (COO) is seeking a talented mechanical or opto-mechanical engineer to join its Optical and Infrared (OIR) Instrumentation group. The OIR group designs, fabricates, and commissions advanced astronomical instrumentation for the Palomar, Keck, Thirty Meter Telescope, and other forefront Observatories while fostering a community of respect, learning, and individual growth. The qualified mechanical engineer will contribute throughout project life cycles including conceptualization, detailed design, integration, testing, and commissioning, as a key member of interdisciplinary teams pushing back the frontiers of planetary science, astronomy, and cosmology.
This position is based on the Caltech university 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 evaluation and mentorship.
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.
B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent and 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.
The successful candidate will demonstrate enthusiasm and initiative in a fast-paced multidisciplinary research environment. One must also possess a demonstrated ability to meet deadlines and execute complex quotations and procurement efforts.
Occasional travel and work assignments at high altitudes and in limited light environments; requires DMV check and successful pre-employment physical, including vision screening.
Ability to lift 20 lbs.
Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
M.S. degree plus 4+ 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.
Mastery of opto-mechanical 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).
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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The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, where extraordinary faculty and students seek answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation, and transform our future.