Spectrum Monitor Electronics Engineer II/III (4717)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Charlottesville, Virginia


Position Description:


Position Summary


The Central Development Laboratory (CDL) at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is currently hiring an electronics engineer to work on an exciting new initiative within the observatory: Advanced Spectrum Monitoring Hardware (ASMH). The ASMH project will leverage CDL’s engineering expertise to develop novel hardware architectures for spectrum monitoring as part of an initiative by the National Science Foundation to develop a National Radio Dynamic Zone (NRDZ), a broad effort to address the challenges faced with an increasingly crowded radio frequency spectrum. The NRDZ will be a permanent, high-capability radio dynamic zone, supporting national needs for spectrum science R&D.

This position is initially available for 1 year with a target start date mid-May 2022. Continuation of this position is contingent on progress and additional ASMH project funding.


The ASMH team is responsible for designing, constructing, testing, and fielding prototype systems that monitor the RF spectrum from 1 GHz to over 100 GHz. The concept is for our ASMH system to be model for spectrum monitoring in a future NRDZ.


The selectee will report to the ASMH Project Engineer, will work cooperatively with other design groups in CDL, and will interact with the Observatory’s NRDZ project team and with engineers and technicians at NRAO’s Very Large Array (VLA) in Socorro, NM, and the Green Bank Observatory, in Green Bank, WV.


The ideal candidate will be highly proficient in a number of fundamental engineering skills that span RF assembly and testing, Python programming, Raspberry Pi set up and programming, and modeling and simulation. Because ASMH is a new initiative at the Observatory and involves interacting with a number of groups around the radio astronomy community, the ideal candidate will be able to research and solve complex technical issues and work within a team environment conforming to best practices in project management and safety.


This position will be based at the Central Development Lab (CDL), which is located in Charlottesville, VA. The CDL has a long history of developing new technology to enable forefront research in radio astronomy. Current research and development programs include cryogenic, low-noise front-ends, wideband electromagnetic components such as antenna feeds and polarizers operating from below 1 GHz to nearly 1 THz, phased-array feeds, highly integrated receiver architectures that employ early signal digitization and novel encoding, wideband and scalable digital signal processing architectures, and photonic signal generation, time reference distribution, and data transmission.


In addition to competitive pay, we provide excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave).  Medical, dental and vision plans are effective on the 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.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or equivalent experience.


Minimum Experience

A minimum of 1 year experience with RF assembly, measurement, and testing, and familiarity with Python programming and use of single board computers like Raspberry Pi devices.


Preferred Experience


  • Experience with making RF measurements of devices with spectrum analyzers and network analyzers up to 120 GHz.
  • Experience assembling RF modules and test sub-assemblies, assemblies and complete systems.
  • Ability to calculate RF link levels using path loss equations like Friis.
  • Experience with Python to control measurement devices or sensors.
  • Ability to setup, program, and trouble-shoot Raspberry Pi single board computers.
  • Experience testing and evaluating individual RF components including amplifiers, mixers and filters.
  • Ability to evaluate power regulators and perform load tests
  • Experience performing environmental testing such as temperature and humidity
  • Work in anechoic chamber testing and verifying.
  • Able to employ wiring and soldering good practices.
  • Able to work with Solidworks and with antenna and RF simulation software.
  • Producing documentation.



Due to export control purposes, this position is open only to US persons which include United States citizens and permanent residents.


Additional Requirements

Occasional travel may be required.


The Observatory has determined that all employees who intend to be physically present in the facilities and employees who work in safety sensitive positions are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in accordance with our AUI vaccine policy and provide proof of full vaccination prior to your start date. A selected candidate may request consideration for an accommodation for a disability or a sincerely held religious belief.  


Application Instructions:


Select the "Apply" button. You will need to be prepared to upload your current resume and a letter of application describing interest and suitability for the position.

Applicants must be currently authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis.


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