VLBA Specialist I-II (4430)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Mauna Kea, Hawaii


Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is recruiting a Specialist for our Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) Mauna Kea site on the Big Island of HawaiiThe VLBA Specialist is responsible for a wide range of installation, repairs, and maintenance at the VLBA Station located near the summit of Mauna Kea. The station is part of a 10-antenna array, spread across the US that captures radio astronomical data. The employee works with another Specialist, occasionally solo when schedule issues arise, and is on-call on alternating weekends. The Specialist must respond to emergency repair situations as dictated by the impact on the station's ability to perform intended functions.


The NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. Our retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay. No contribution is required of the employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.


Job Duties Summary

The position provides maintenance, inspection, testing, troubleshooting, repair, data delivery and other work on the Very Long Baseline Array Station, including the 25-meter Antenna and support equipment. The station includes Radio Frequency receiver and cryogenic systems, data and communications equipment, data recorders, recording media, servo control systems, mechanical drive equipment, and weather stations.


Routine duties include:

  • Using standard electronic test equipment, recording effects on unit performance, inspection, and adjustment and/or replacement of defective system components.
  • Performing scheduled maintenance, lubrication, mechanical and electronic inspections, and other preventive and corrective maintenance.
  • Monitoring and maintenance of all systems for proper operation. This includes the emergency power generating equipment, fire alarms, and HVAC systems.
  • Consultation with the other VLBA Specialist assigned to this site and with NRAO technicians and engineers located elsewhere in formulating and planning corrective actions.
  • Use of electronics test equipment such as digital multimeters, spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes, signal generators, and power supplies. Use of hand tools for mechanical work or repair.
  • Upkeep of the site and facilities.
  • Proactive compliance with all NRAO policies and procedures is required.
  • Other duties may be assigned.


Work Environment

The Specialist frequently works in high places, up to 100 feet, in outside weather conditions and workdays require work at an elevation of 13,796 feet. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate. The employee works near moving mechanical parts and is exposed to electrical hazards. These and other situations mean the employee is often responsible to perform lockout/tag out to create a safe work environment.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Associate of Science degree (A.S.) or equivalent in Electronics.


Preferred Education

Bachelor's Degree in a related field.


Minimum Experience

Three years of experience in the Electronics or Electrical fields. 


Preferred Experience

Five or more years of experience in the Electronics training or Electrical fields, with experience in technical support radio astronomy or telecommunications equipment and installations. Qualified candidates with five or more years of experience may be considered for the Specialist II classification.


Additional Requirements

The Specialist must maintain a current HI Driver’s License as the employee will be required to drive an Observatory vehicle.  Because work is performed at a high altitude (above 10,000 feet), the selected candidate, upon acceptance, must successfully pass a post-offer, pre-employment/pre-placement high-altitude medical exam.  Failure to pass the exam will disqualify the candidate from employment consideration; the high-altitude medical exam will be an annual requirement.


Competency Summary

Candidates must have the ability to work independently and reliably with minimal direct supervision. They must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing and operate a personal computer and common software. They must be able to solve technical problems and deal with a variety of situations where only limited documentation and standardization may exist. Candidates must have and maintain a current Driver's License and they may be required to drive Observatory vehicles.


Physical Requirements

The physical demands and the work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Work is performed at a high altitude.  While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to use hands to handle or feel objects, use tools or controls; reach with hands and arms. The employee must be able to negotiate vertical ladders to access service locations on the antenna; required to utilize fall arrest equipment. While in these locations the employee must balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl. The employee must frequently lift and move up to 50 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus. Normal hearing ability is required to receive directions from other employees located in other areas of the station.


Safety Sensitive

The selected candidate must successfully pass a post-offer, pre-employment/pre-placement drug screen.  Failure to pass the Screen will disqualify the candidate from employment consideration for a period of six months from the date of the results.


Application Instructions:


Select the “Apply” button below.  You will need to be prepared to upload your current CV/Resume and you will have the option to upload a letter of application that describes your interest and suitability for the position.


The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.