Assistant Scientist or Software Engineer I-III (4408)

Computers/Software Charlottesville, Virginia Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:

Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (NRAO) mission is to enable forefront research into the Universe at radio wavelengths. In partnership with the scientific community, we:

  • Provide world leading telescopes, scientific software and algorithms and expertise,
  • Train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and
  • Promote astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society.

The NRAO is seeking to recruit a full-time (at-will) scientific staff member or Software Engineer I-III (as appropriate for educational qualification) to join their CASA team. CASA Software Engineers design, develop and maintain the code base for radio interferometer data reduction and analysis.  They are responsible for all aspects of the software engineering lifecycle from requirements derivation through design, development, and integration in to telescope operations. CASA Software Engineers must be capable of formulating complex technical solutions suitable for operational deployment from broad scientific objectives in a research environment.  They must possess both software engineering domain knowledge as well as the educational background and ability to understand the basic scientific concepts of radio interferometry.


The position will be based at either our headquarters in Charlottesville, VA on the grounds of the University of Virginia (; or at the Science Operations Center in Socorro, NM on the campus of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ( 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

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing new radio interferometer data reduction algorithm implementations as needed by new scientific objectives;
  • Maintaining existing algorithm implementations in support of ongoing telescope operations and research endeavors;
  • Evolving CASA code base to be modern, lean, efficient, and well understood;
  • Building and maintaining data processing and analysis software infrastructure necessary to load and store data reduction inputs and outputs;
  • Operating in a team environment with scientific staff;
  • Taking ownership of a subset of functionality and provide technical direction, decision-making, and subject matter expertise in that area with limited guidance or specific direction.


Work Environment

The position is located at the NRAO in Socorro, NM or Charlottesville, VA. Work is typically performed in a research or development environment. Must be able to operate a personal computer. May occasionally work at high altitudes. Must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.  Occasional travel will be required.


Position Requirements:

Minimum Education

Bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field; PhD in related field for consideration for Scientist appointment.


Preferred Education

Advanced degree and background that includes physics or mathematics is highly desired for consideration for the Software Engineer classification.


Minimum Experience

For the Software Engineer: no previous related work experience is required. Candidates with progressively more responsible experience will be considered for a higher-level position ranking.


For consideration for a scientific appointment, one year of relevant experience to include demonstrated experience in radio astronomical data processing and related scientific software development as port of PhD, postdoctoral, or similar level of work.


Preferred Experience

For the Software Engineer: at least one year of direct or related experience in software development commensurate with stated qualifications.


Competency Summary

  • Experience with large development projects in C++ and Python, and familiarity with UI frameworks such as Qt
  • Experience with scientific software development, numerical processing techniques, linear algebra, digital design signal processing concepts, and mathematical packages such as Python/numpy
  • Experience with software development in Linux
  • Familiarity with High Performance Computing and Big Data concepts including distributed data storage, parallel I/O, parallel processing, and memory caching
  • An understanding of formal software engineering principles including design, documentation, ticketing systems, version control, testing frameworks, and requirements traceability
  • Ability to learn new scientific concepts and apply learning to engineering implementation, specifically in radio astronomy and interferometry


Application Instructions:

Software Engineer Applicants:

Please upload your cv/resume with the ADD RESUME button and your cover letter with the ADDITIONAL FILES button at the beginning of the application process.


Assistant Scientist Applicants:

You will need the following materials, combined in a single PDF file to upload using the ADD RESUME button at the beginning of the application process:

  1. Cover letter stating why you are interested in this position – the letter should describe how you match the position and qualifications summarized above (no more than 3 pages).
  2. Curriculum vitae including publications list.
  3. Summary of past technical and observational experience relevant to the position (2 pages).
  4. Summary of past research (2 pages).
  5. Plan for future research describing specifically use of, and synergies with, NRAO facilities and observatory goals and priorities (3 pages).


Each applicant submitting for the scientific classification should arrange for letters of reference to be submitted by three individuals familiar with their scientific abilities directly to Candice Waller at Applicants are responsible for ensuring that letters of reference have been sent. All required application documents, with the exception of reference letters, should be combined into a single file and uploaded when the application is submitted.


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.