Principal Engineer, Instrument

University Of Arizona Tucson , AZ 85704

Posted 4 months ago

Position Details

Position Information

Title Principal Engineer, Instrument Department MMT Observatory (0438) Location Main Campus Position Summary

The MMT Observatory (MMTO) seeks an Instrument Engineer to join the MMTO team to support the operation of a modern world-class optical/infrared astronomical observatory. The MMTO, a joint venture of The University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution, operates a 6.5-meter telescope located on the summit of Mt. Hopkins (elevation 8550 ft), approximately 40 miles south of Tucson, AZ. Additional details regarding the telescope and its instrumentation can be found at

We are seeking a self-motivated, hands-on engineer with both practical skills and a knowledge of cutting-edge technologies. The successful candidate will become the group lead for the MMTO's newly formed Instrument Support Group (ISG). He/she will coordinate and participate in a wide variety of instrument related activities with the goal of maximizing the reliability and optimizing the performance of the MMTO's astronomical instrumentation. This instrumentation includes imagers, spectrographs, adaptive optics systems, wavefront sensors, and calibration units. In addition to working with the engineering and scientific staff at the Observatory, the successful candidate will also collaborate with staff and scientists at the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

The duty station for this position is located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson. However, the responsibilities of this position will require that the Instrument Engineer work at the telescope site a few to several days per week. The position will require a somewhat flexible work schedule with occasional weekend and evening/nighttime shifts to support instrument changes and the preparation, startup, and checkout of instruments. Some demanding projects will require additional time at the telescope.

Outstanding UA benefits include health, dental, and vision insurance plans; life insurance and disability programs; paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays; UA/ASU/NAU tuition reduction for the employee and qualified family members; state and optional retirement plans; access to UA recreation and cultural activities; and more!

The University of Arizona has been recognized for our innovative work-life programs. For more information about working at the University of Arizona and relocations services, please click here.

The University of Arizona is in the process of creating a new classification and compensation architecture. This University Career Architecture Project (UCAP) will revolutionize the way we think about professions and manage compensation at the UA. It is a two year initiative that will replace the current classified staff and appointed professional categories of employment with market-based job functions and families. As an applicant, UCAP will create clearer career paths and opportunities and will help you make more informed pay decisions. To learn more about this project, please visit

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Lead and manage the MMTO Instrument Support Group.

  • Coordinate and participate in instrument handling, preparation, troubleshooting, maintenance, repair, and upgrades.

  • Prioritize instrument related activities and coordinate those activities with the other group leads.

  • Work with the instrument teams at the UofA and/or SAO for training, operational improvements, on-site maintenance and repair, and upgrades.

  • Organize and maintain instrument related documentation including mounting and removal procedures.

  • Interact with astronomers to get feedback on instrument efficiency and performance.

  • Identify instrument upgrades that could result in improved reliability and/or efficiency.

  • Identify improvements in procedures or hardware that could result in more efficient and safer instrument handling.

  • Identify and support the development of future instrumentation.

  • Be a contributing member of the MMTO team in the resolution of technical issues with other observatory systems.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities Minimum Qualifications

  • A Bachelor's degree in an engineering or related field OR seven years of engineering related experience.

  • The ability to resolve technical problems using engineering principles and techniques.

  • The ability to communicate effectively including the preparation of comprehensive technical reports and presentations.

  • A demonstrated ability to lead a technical team.

  • A commitment to the safety of personnel and equipment.

  • The ability and willingness to work at elevations of up to 8550 ft. in occasional severe weather conditions.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with precision instrumentation.

  • Experience with motion control hardware.

  • Experience with opto-mechanical systems.

  • Experience with vacuum systems and cryogenics.

  • Training in electrostatic discharge control.

  • Experience with electrical noise reduction and isolation.

  • Experience working at an astronomical observatory and/or supporting astronomical instrumentation.

FLSA Exempt Full Time/Part Time Full Time Number of Hours Worked per Week 40 Job Category Computer, Engineering and Technical Benefits Eligible Yes - Full Benefits Posted Rate of Pay DOE Type of criminal background check required: Name-based criminal background check (non-security sensitive)

Posting Detail Information

Posting Number A23986 Number of Vacancies One Desired Start Date 11/18/2019 Position End Date (if temporary) Limited to Current UA Employees No Contact Information for Candidates

Barbara Russ

Open Date 08/19/2019 Close Date Open Until Filled Yes Review Begins On 09/16/2019 Special Instructions to Applicant Diversity Statement

At the University of Arizona, we value our inclusive climate because we know that diversity in experiences and perspectives is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and creating an inclusive academic community. As an Hispanic-serving institution, we translate these values into action by seeking individuals who have experience and expertise working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituencies. Because we seek a workforce with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we provide equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. As an Employer of National Service, we also welcome alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service programs and others who will help us advance our Inclusive Excellence initiative aimed at creating a university that values student, staff and faculty engagement in addressing issues of diversity and inclusiveness.

Quick Link for Internal Postings

Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

  • Where did you first learn about this position?

  • Arizona Daily Star

  • Arizona Republic



  • Chronicle of Higher Education

  • Department of Economic Security (DES)

  • Diverse Issues in Higher Education


  • Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education



  • Jobing.Com

  • LinkedIn

  • Local Job Banks

  • Pima County One-Stop

  • Professional Conference

  • Professional journal/publication

  • Referred by UA Employee

  • Invited by Dept to Apply

  • UA Website

  • Other

  • Do you have a Bachelor's degree in an engineering or related field OR seven years of engineering related experience?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Do you have the ability to work for extended periods of time in occasional severe cold weather conditions at elevations of up to 8550 feet?

  • Yes

  • No

Documents Needed to Apply

Required Documents

  • Resume

  • Cover Letter

Optional Documents

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Principal Engineer, Instrument

University Of Arizona