Front End Technical Specialist II or III (4340)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Socorro, New Mexico


Position Description:


Position Summary

The New Mexico Electronics Division Front End Group, as part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), is designing, manufacturing, and maintaining low noise radio astronomy receivers in the radio frequency (RF) and centimeter wave frequency range. The team of employees in this group uses low noise amplifiers, mixers, and other RF components to build and maintain receivers for telescopes such as Very Large Array (VLA) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The team is seeking a Front End Technical Specialist to build and maintain receiver equipment on these arrays and continue work in-line with our Observatory’s goals. 


The position is based 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

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 Front End receiver assemblies. The Specialist consults with a team of fellow NRAO technicians, technical specialists, and engineers in accomplishing tasks, if necessary.


Routine duties include:

  • Design, layout, assembly, testing and troubleshooting of the Front End receiver equipment on the Very Large Array (VLA) antennas. Drawing sketches to clarify design details and functional requirements of assemblies. Designing and fabrication of prototype or production units.
  • Setting up standard test apparatus or test equipment to conduct functional, operational, environmental, and live tests to evaluate the performance and reliability of prototype or production units. The Specialist analyzes and interprets test data and records final test results.
  • Locating and ordering parts and equipment; identifying necessary components by using part numbers and/or standard color codes. This includes evaluation of substitute parts for functional equivalence of any obsolete/non-obtainable components or parts.
  • Writing technical reports and developing charts, graphs, and schematics to describe and illustrate an assembly's operating characteristics. This includes identifying malfunctions, deviations from design specifications, and functional limitations. Recommending changes required to achieve functional specifications of the modules.
  • Assisting in the installation of finished units on antennas at the VLA and checking functionality of installed equipment to evaluate system performance under actual operating conditions.
  • Performing miscellaneous functions, such as maintenance and servicing of facilities and equipment, records and reports. This includes performing preventive and corrective maintenance of test apparatus and peripheral equipment. The Specialist may train and lead technicians and others in the performance of their duties.
  • Proactively complying with NRAO and legal safety policies and procedures in own work area.
  • Displaying a high degree of initiative and judgment.
  • Directing the work of other Technical Specialists and Technicians as needed.
  • Following project schedules set by supervisors.
  • Other duties as assigned.


Work Environment

This is a Safety Sensitive position.


Work is typically performed in a research or development environment, but employees are often required to work outdoors on antennas at heights up to 100 feet. Must be able to work near moving mechanical parts and/or energized 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 loud noise, chemicals, or the risk of electrical shock.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Associate Degree (AA) in Engineering Technology or closely related degree.


Preferred Education

Bachelor's Degree in a related field.


Minimum Experience

Five years of relevant experience.


Preferred Experience

Ten or more years of relevant experience; candidates with at least 10 years of relevant experience (or equivalent combination of education and experience) may be considered for the Technical Specialist III classification.


Competency Summary

The candidate for this position must be able to read and interpret schematics and be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. The candidate must be able to operate a personal computer.


Physical Demands

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 (corrected vision is OK).


Additional Requirements

Must possess a valid driver's license. May be required to drive Observatory vehicles. Must pass any applicable knowledge/skills assessments. 


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 a resume and a letter of interest.


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.