Open Rank Electronics Engineer or Research Engineer (EE IV-Sr. or Associate-ScI/RE) 4300

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Charlottesville, Virginia Washington, D.C., District Of Columbia


Open Rank Electronics Engineer or Research Engineer

(EE IV-Sr. or Assoc-Sci/RE)



Position Description:


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


•Provide world leading telescopes, instrumentation and expertise,

•Train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and

•Promote astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society.


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) announces an opportunity for an Electronics Engineer / Research Engineer at the Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, VA. The CDL has a long history of developing new technology to enable forefront research in radio astronomy by the scientific community. The successful candidate will provide technical leadership for CDL’s correlator / digital signal processing team.


The appointment will be made as either an Electronics Engineer (IV or senior level) or as a Research Engineer (Associate Scientists or Scientist level) depending on the education and experience of the successful candidate. 


NRAO offers competitive pay and excellent benefits – 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. 


This position will be located in Charlottesville, VA.


Position Description:


The appointee will lead a group of engineers and technicians in the CDL that will design upgrades and improvements to existing correlators (especially for ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) and will research, design, and develop the next generation of correlators for future radio telescopes, such as the next generation Very Large Array (ngVLA).   The incumbent will also provide expert advice and technical leadership on correlator and digital signal processing issues, and contribute personally to CDL’s outputs in your areas of expertise. The successful candidate will be responsible for carrying out and assisting in engineering analysis, design, and general execution of major projects and systems.


To be considered for appointment as a Research Engineer you will need to have a PhD in electronics engineering or a closely related field is required, and an excellent record of independent research. Furthermore, a higher level of postdoctoral experience and evidence of an excellent reputation in the field as well as a consistent record of research productivity will be required for appointment as a Research Engineer at the Scientist level. If you are appointed as a Research Engineer you will be entitled (and expected) to spend 25% of your time on independent research and 75% of your time on functional responsibilities including leadership of your team, technical work on Observatory-defined goals, management of engineering projects and so on.  Research Engineers / Scientists are expected to contribute to the overall NRAO mission and must be able to demonstrate the ability to work within an international environment that promotes motivation, leadership and team building, in both scientific and functional areas.  Research Engineers / Scientists are expected to be versatile and flexible in their science and functional work to adapt to new challenges and opportunities as NRAO and the astronomical landscape evolve.


Job Duties Summary

  • Lead CDL’s correlator / digital signal processing team in evaluating and analyzing emerging technologies and their applicability to future correlator designs to deliver on science requirements for the next generation instruments.
  • Research, design, and develop the next generation of radio astronomy correlators.
  • Advise the Assistant Director: CDL on futures planning and resource allocations in the areas of signal processing and correlator research and engineering.
  • Independently works across NRAO (e.g., with project management, systems engineering, instrumentation development, operations, and data reduction teams), to enable successful systems integration with correlator upgrades and new designs.
  • Work across NRAO and with the greater radio astronomy community to develop requirements and specifications for future correlators and signal processing algorithms.
  • Develop concepts of operations, development plans, test, evaluation, and verification plans.
  • Ensure proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.




Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Bachelor’s degree in astronomy, electrical engineering, physics or a closely related field.  A Research Engineer / Scientist appointment requires a PhD. 


Minimum Experience:

A minimum of 5 years’ experience in related field.

  • A proven record of achievement in designing and building radio astronomy correlators, including experience in defining architecture, hardware, firmware, and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs).
  • Excellent understanding of DSP theory and techniques.
  • Experience with real-time programming.
  • Appointment as a Research Engineer / Scientist requires additional experience described above.


Preferred Experience:


  • Familiarity with the ALMA correlator, its test approaches and documentation.
  • Experience working at an observatory is highly desired.





  • Ability to evaluate and analyze evolving technologies and their applicability to the next generation of radio astronomy correlators.
  • Demonstrated ability to work at a systems level to enable seamless systems integration, including requirements and specifications development, concept of operations development, test, evaluation, and knowledge of project management activities as appropriate.
  • Familiarity with the suite of design tools used in the design of the current and proposed correlators (for example, OrCad, Xilinx Vivado, Xilinx ISE, Keil for C167 microprocessor code development).
  • Excellent administrative abilities, including the ability to monitor budgets, plan and distribute work, write progress reports, and generate well-written proposals.
  • Superior interpersonal skills and the ability to manage personnel.
  • Must have an excellent ability to design digital and analog hardware.



Work Environment


Work is typically performed in a research or development environment, but you may occasionally be required to work outdoors.  Some domestic and international travel will be required; must be willing to travel at regular intervals within and outside the U.S.



Application Instructions:



Please include a cover letter expressing your interest and responding to the position requirements, together with a cv/resume. All applications must include names and contact details for three professional referees.

Applicants meeting the additional requirements and wishing to be considered for appointment as a Research Engineer must also include:

-          A summary of past research

-          A plan for future research focusing on the next 5 years (no more than 3 pages each).

Please combine all documents including: cover letter, CV, past research and future research in a single pdf.

The position will be open until filled, however applicants will be screened upon receipt.


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