Mechanical Engineer III - IV, Engineering Lead (4657)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:


Position Summary

In general, the Engineering Lead will provide managerial and operational support for the Very Large Array (VLA) engineering group.  The Engineering Lead has broad overview responsibility for VLA site. Executes a maintenance program for repairs, routine preventative maintenance procedures and to identify and track patterns of failure. Takes a leadership role in establishing and guiding safe procedures, recognizing and correcting unsafe practices, enforcing the use of PPE, reporting incidents/accidents, establishing and maintaining a JSA program and complying with the NRAO safety plan.


Provides engineering support to the VLA, Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA), and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). Responsible for the overall management, coordination, scheduling, budgeting, training and supervision of a small engineering team. Provides technical guidance to the antenna mechanics, painting, electrical and electronic equipment, HVAC, computer hardware and software, automotive mechanics, railroad maintenance, plumbing, carpentry and facilities maintenance.


The position is based at the VLA radio telescope site, 50 miles west of Socorro, NM. Socorro is a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque. In addition to competitive pay, 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 essential duties and responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

  • Responsible for the overall management, coordination, scheduling, budgeting, training and supervision of the VLA mechanical engineering group, machine shop and electrical engineer.
  • Responsible for organizing the approach to solving complex and unique engineering problems.
  • Responsible for engineering analysis, design, and execution of major projects and systems.  Makes decisions and determinations in design, procurement, manufacture, erection, testing, and some degree of initial operation.
  • Uses computer assisted engineering and design software and equipment to design equipment, components, systems or structures for radio telescopes and related systems.  Modifies existing software and hardware to add new features and improvements, or correct original design problems. 
  • Directs other engineering and technical personnel in the fabrication and testing of equipment, and determines methods, procedures, and conditions for testing.  Ensures manufacturing, construction, installation, and operational testing conform to functional specifications and requirements.
  • Works with engineers, technical specialists and scientists to identify and solve problems.  Determines repair and maintenance needs.  Coordinates and directs operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment, systems, and structures.
  • Makes recommendations for procedures, equipment purchases, and other improvements.
  • Supervise other Engineers, Technical Specialists, Technicians, cooperative education students and/or summer students including hiring, training, planning, assigning, and directing work, addressing complaints, and resolving problems.
  • Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the Observatory’s policies and applicable law.
  • Proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures in own work area is expected.
  • Other duties as assigned.


Work Environment

Work is will be split 50/50 between in office design and engineering and in the field working with radio antennas and support equipment. The successful candidate may be required to travel domestically and internationally by air carrier and travel by car between NRAO sites.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

BS in Engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical)


Preferred Education

Advanced degree in an engineering discipline or a related field


Minimum Experience

Five years of experience in engineering with increased responsibility and demonstrated engineering leadership as evidenced by an advanced degree, professional license, publications or original work. Must have a successful record of completing projects on schedule and within budget.


Preferred Experience and Certification

Experience with Radio telescopes preferred. 


Competency Summary

Must possess capabilities of responsible engineering leadership.  Must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. Must be proficient with Microsoft Office programs and engineering management software tools. A working knowledge of 3D modeling CAD is required.  Must possess a valid driver’s license.


Physical Demands

Engineer will be required to stand and sit, and perform fine hand manipulation. Must work near moving mechanical parts and/or with electrical equipment. Occasionally required to climb or balance, and stoop, kneel, and crouch. May occasionally work at high altitudes, and in high, precarious places and in outside weather conditions, and may be exposed to chemicals, or the risk of electrical shock. Occasional travel to other Observatory sites is required and may include VLBA site visits.


Additional Requirements

Must possess a valid driver's license as the engineer may be required to drive Observatory vehicles. An applicant must pass any applicable knowledge/skills assessments.  


The Observatory requires staff to be fully vaccinated against covid-19 to access our facilities.  An offer of employment will be considered contingent until the selected applicant provides proof of vaccination.  A selected applicant may request consideration for an accommodation for a disability or for a sincerely held religious belief.


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:


Click the “Apply” button below.  You will need to 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  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 [email protected].


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.