VLBA Lab Technical Specialist I-III (4453)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory announces an opportunity for a Technical Specialist to support the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).  The VLBA Lab Technical Specialist is responsible for supporting group coordination and repairs, maintenance, module assembly and testing, and upgrades to VLBA systems. This mostly includes bench and computer work but also requires occasional travel to install or maintain equipment on VLBA antennas. Work performed is often considered independent. This is a “Safety Sensitive” position as described in the Position Requirements below.


The position is based at the Science Operations Center in Socorro, NM on the campus of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (www.nmt.edu). Socorro is a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque. In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. NRAO’s 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

Under general to minimal supervision and as part of a diverse and active team located in the Socorro, NM Electronics lab, the Specialist fabricates, assembles, delivers, and repairs electronics equipment and related hardware for use on VLBA radio telescopes. This equipment typically includes Radio Frequency (RF) feeds and receivers, synthesizers, data and communications equipment, power supplies, and computing hardware. The Specialist is also responsible for managing the logistics of equipment or parts shipments to and from VLBA sites. The Specialist also provides back-up supervision and coordination of VLBA site activities in support of the VLBA Group Lead. Other duties may be assigned, including similar support on projects or maintenance areas.


Routine duties include:

  • Support of VLBA group coordination and logistics.
  • Assembly, installation, calibration, troubleshooting, and repair of VLBA Electronics hardware.
  • Use of standard electronic test equipment, such as digital multimeters, spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes, signal generators, and power supplies, to record unit performance, for inspection, adjustment, and/or replacement of defective system components.
  • Monitoring of equipment for proper operation during operations or during the verification of equipment in lab or on antennas, including documentation of results.
  • Use of hand tools for mechanical work or repair.


Additional duties include:

  • Writing technical reports and developing charts, graphs, and schematics to describe equipment’s operating characteristics, malfunctions, deviations from design specifications, and functional limitations. This includes documentation of work performed.
  • Consultation with group supervisor, other NRAO technicians and technical specialists, and engineers as part of formulating and planning corrective actions.
  • Recommendation of changes required to achieve functional requirements of the units.
  • Proactive compliance with all NRAO policies and procedures.
  • Emergency call-outs to support VLBA antennas during inclement weather, late night and or early morning hours.
  • Other duties may be assigned.


Competency Summary

Candidates must have the ability to accomplish the job duties independently and reliably with general to minimal direct supervision. They must be able to read and interpret schematics, operating and maintenance manuals, and other documentation. An understanding of analog and digital circuits is necessary to support the construction and troubleshooting of equipment. The candidate must also communicate effectively verbally and in writing and operate a personal computer and common software. As part of the job, 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.


Work Environment

Work is typically performed in a research & development laboratory environment, but employees may be occasionally required to work outdoors including on VLBA antennas at elevations up to 100 feet, in outside weather conditions. May need to work near moving mechanical parts and/or energized electrical equipment with proper personal protection equipment. Occasionally required to climb or balance; and stoop, kneel, and crouch. May occasionally work at high altitudes. Will be responsible to perform lockout/tag out for antenna power and all other NRAO safety requirements.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Associate of Science degree (A.S.) or equivalent in Electronics or related field; a High School diploma or GED and combination of education and experience equivalent to a degree may be sufficient.


Preferred Education

A Bachelor’s degree in Engineering or a related field.


Minimum Experience

A minimum of three years of Electronics, Electrician, or related experience.


Preferred Experience

More than ten years of experience in radio frequency electronics design, assembly, and testing, and/or experience installing and repairing fiber optic equipment or other experience in technical support of radio astronomy or telecommunications equipment and installations. Candidates with preferred experience and education may be given a higher job title and salary grade.


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. 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 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.


Additional Requirements

  • Must be available for after-hours call out.
  • Must maintain a current Driver's License.
  • May be required to drive Observatory vehicles.


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.  Please be prepared to upload your current CV/Resume and a letter of application describing interest and suitability for the position.


 Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:


AUI is an equal opportunity employer.  Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply.  To view our complete statement, please visit http://jobs.jobvite.com/nrao/jobs.  If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to resumes@nrao.edu.



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