California Institute of Technology

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Technical Project Manager

at California Institute of Technology

Posted: 10/8/2019
Job Reference #: 4802

Job Description

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.


Job Summary

Caltech Optical Observatories (COO) is inviting qualified candidates to apply for the position of Project Manager within its Optical and Infrared (OIR) Instrumentation Group. The OIR Group develops innovative visible and infrared astronomical adaptive optics systems, imaging cameras, and spectrographs for the Palomar, Keck, and Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatories, as well as for other facilities and flight missions in support of Caltech faculty and student research.

Applicants are expected to have a demonstrated record of successfully delivering astronomical or experimental physics instrument systems for large telescopes, astronomical software systems, or equivalent technical and managerial experience.

The successful candidate will support instrument development proposals in close collaboration with the Associate Director for Instrumentation Development and Caltech faculty sharing similar scientific interests. 

Job Duties

The successful Technical Project Manager is expected to:
– Manage multiple instrumentation projects within the Caltech Optical Observatories development portfolio, including organization, planning, execution, validation, and risk management
– Develop and maintain budgets and schedules in concurrence with science performance goals throughout instrument lifecycles, including proposal preparation and submission, site visits, external reviews, and commissioning
– Communicate effectively with all project stakeholders, including cross institutional and international partners, to coordinate efficient resource deployment and minimize critical path
– Prepare internal and external reporting to public and private project sponsors, university administration, observatory management, and faculty
– Working with an Instrument Scientist, Instrument Engineer, and/or Systems Engineer, support instrument architecture and performance trade studies to optimize capability and stakeholder value
– Support instrument development through occasional technical contributions in one or more core instrumentation sub-disciplines: systems engineering, optics, mechanics, electronics, software development, configuration management, quality assurance, and/or data science
– Working with the COO Business Manager, focus on continuous improvement of business and financial reporting functions in support of project needs
– Working with the COO Associate Director for Instrumentation, identify and review new instrument opportunities, concepts, and research directions
– Demonstrate strong written and verbal communication skills, often with international partners
– Demonstrate strong analytical, problem-solving, and conceptual skills, with an ability to express complex technical concepts to non-experts

Basic Qualifications

– B.S. in astronomy, physics, engineering, or related field with a minimum of 6 years’ experience in project management or entrepreneurship, or equivalent
– Enthusiasm to make impactful contributions, individually and within instrumentation teams, to human knowledge and understanding
– Excellent written and verbal communications skills and ability to lead technical peers and work collegially with astronomical faculty
– Recognized technical excellence in one or more of the following instrumentation sub-disciplines: optical, photonic, mechanical, electrical, or detector engineering; cryo-vacuum systems; adaptive optics; controls systems; software engineering; or robotics
– Familiarity with effective systems engineering disciplines including requirements engineering, error budget analysis and requirements flow-down, formal interface control, and risk assessment and mitigation strategies
– Leadership of instrument and/or data pipeline software development teams, with emphasis on efficiency, automation, maintainability, and extensibility
– Broad knowledge of experimental physics and multidisciplinary engineering principles
– Occasional travel and work at high altitudes (14,000 ft.) is required, including both daytime and occasional nighttime schedules, often in low light level conditions
– Successful pre-employment physical, DMV check, and criminal background check

Preferred Qualifications

– M.S. in astronomy, physics, engineering, or related field. M.B.A. in project management or entrepreneurship, and 4 years’ experience, or equivalent
– PhD in astronomy, physics, engineering, or related field and 2 years’ experience
– Expertise in adaptive optics systems design and performance optimization, high-contrast imaging techniques and/or high-resolution spectroscopy
– Strong record of successful delivery of astronomical instrumentation and international recognition of achievements. Experience working with astronomy, astrophysics, or physics faculty is preferred
– Expertise with management of the software development process for technical, prototypical instrumentation
– Proven publication record in advanced optical / photonic instrument component development for new generations of spectrographs and adaptive optics systems

Required Documents

– Resume
– CV
– Cover Letter