RF/Electronics Engineer (4441)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Charlottesville, Virginia


Position Description:

Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) seeks a “hands on” electronics or RF engineer with expertise in debugging and repairing electronic systems used in radio astronomy receivers. These systems include a variety of digital, RF, and fiber optic technologies such as digital monitor and control boards, RF filter and attenuator assemblies, and fiber optic switching assemblies. The successful candidate will join the ALMA Operations Support Group in the Central Development Laboratory (CDL) in Charlottesville, VA.


This RF/Electronics engineer will have experience encompassing progressively more responsible roles and a reputation for being highly motivated and an independent thinker. The primary role in this position is to repair electronics subsystems used in cryogenic receivers that are part of the Atacama Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). This position requires knowledge of board and component level repair, analog and RF calibration techniques, the ability to follow, modify, and write test procedures, and experience with configuration management systems used for electronic maintenance. Some design and development work may occur in this position, but the primary role is electronics maintenance.


This position will be based at the NRAO CDL in Charlottesville, VA. 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% of a qualified participant’s base pay with no contribution required from employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.


Job Duties Summary

  • Assists in the engineering analysis, design, and execution of ALMA projects and systems.  Provides recommendations in the design, procurement, manufacturing and fabrication, testing, and initial operation of equipment.
  • Uses computer aided design software to update designs and/or performance of existing electronic equipment, components, and systems. Updates documentation to clarify design details and functional criteria.  Procures and tests components and their parent subassemblies for replacement of parts. 
  • Assembles, trouble shoots, repairs, and tests electronic and RF production units returned from radio telescopes, both at board and component levels.
  • Works with programmers and scientists to identify and solve problems.  Reviews and recommends repair and maintenance requirements.
  • Assists other engineering and technical personnel in the fabrication and testing of equipment, preventative and corrective maintenance of test systems and peripheral equipment, and recommends and documents methods, procedures, and conditions for testing.  Ensures that test results conform to specifications.
  • Assists in preparing costs and schedules for projects and recommends approaches for streamlining and improving the efficiency of repair processes.  Locates, identifies replacements, and orders spare parts and equipment.
  • Trains technicians to use test and measurement systems.
  • Writes technical reports, develops charts, graphs, and schematics to describe and illustrate a unit’s operating characteristics, malfunctions, deviations from design specifications, and functional limitations.
  • Assists in the evaluation, repair of existing subsystems, and installation of new systems at the ALMA telescope site near San Pedro de Atacama, in northern Chile.
  • Use configuration management systems to track the repair status of electronic equipment.
  • Proactively complies with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures in work area.

Work Environment

Work is typically performed in a research or development environment, but employees may be occasionally required to work outdoors. Will be required to stand and sit; perform fine hand manipulation. Must be able to operate a personal computer. Must work near moving mechanical parts and with electrical equipment. Occasionally required to climb or balance; and stoop, kneel, and crouch. May occasionally work at high altitudes and in outside weather conditions, or the risk of electrical shock. Must occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. Must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. Specific vision abilities include close vision, distance vision, color and depth perception. Must be able to travel by air, up to 2 times per year, for two weeks per trip, to the ALMA Operations Support Facility at 9,400 feet elevation near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.


Position Requirements:

Minimum Education

Bachelor's degree is required in engineering or a related field (such as BSET); or an equivalent combination of education and experience.  Requires understanding of microwave, RF, and analog circuits containing op amps, diodes and transistors.  Requires the use of PCs, workstations, software packages, and fabrication and test equipment for microwave, RF, digital, and analog testingFamiliarity with FPGA programming is a plus


Minimum Experience

At least one year of experience in electronics circuits and radio frequency or microwave systems. Knowledge of fiber optics and cryogenics technology is a plus.



Must be knowledgeable and have practical ability in microwaves, radio frequency and analog electronics, and fiber optic systems. Must be skilled in using Excel and MS Word while knowledge of AutoCAD, OrCAD, LabVIEW, and python is a plus. Must pass a knowledge/skills test and possess a valid driver’s license.


Application Instructions:

Select the "Apply" button below. You will need to be prepared to upload your current CV/Resume and a cover letter describing interest and suitability for the position. Applications review will continue until the position is filled.


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.