Systems Engineer III-IV (4803)

Project Management Charlottesville, Virginia


Position Description:


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) invites applications for an experienced Systems Engineer for support of the North American (NA) ALMA Development Program. The systems engineer will provide systems engineering and integration support for several Development Program projects including work packages for the 2nd Generation Correlator project.

The NA ALMA Development Program works in concert with the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) and the ALMA Partnership to sustain and enhance the scientific capabilities of ALMA, a millimeter/submillimeter array of 66 antennas in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. ALMA is an international partnership, with operations led by NRAO/AUI on behalf of North America, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on behalf of its European Member States, and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia.

The development program is presently executing an ambitious program known as the ALMA Development Roadmap Wideband Sensitivity Upgrade (WSU) that involves the replacement or upgrade of the entire ALMA signal chain from the cryogenic high frequency receivers mounted on the antennas to the digital central signal processor (correlator), which are connected by a fiber optic link of over 30 km. The WSU project involves the upgrade of electronic, photonic, software, and infrastructural (civil) systems. NRAO and its NA partners are taking a key role in the WSU, which includes an upgrade to the Band 6 receiver, the development of a 2nd Generation Correlator, related infrastructure, and participation in other WSU subsystem upgrades. In the longer term, initial discussions are underway on further upgrades to ALMA for up to a factor of 10 increase in sensitivity, extension of baselines, and other capability enhancements.


The successful candidate will lead the systems engineering for NRAO internal teams and oversee the implementation of the SE processes across projects in the WSU through all life cycle stages from design to construction. The SE will ensure the implementation of consistent SE processes and practices in subsystem teams and by contractors across the project. The candidate is expected to be familiar with international SE best practices, model-based SE and be able to work proactively and independently in implementing the SE processes.


This position will require a high level of teamwork and collaboration within the NA ALMA group and across the worldwide ALMA partnership. In particular, the systems engineer can expect to work closely with NRAO project managers for individual subsystems, the JAO development leads, and managers in the ALMA partnership in the US and Canada, Europe, East Asia, and in Chile.

Position Details:

  • Oversee and participate in the implementation of the Systems Engineering processes across the life cycle of NA contributions to the WSU.
  • Provide systems engineering for specific NA contributions to the WSU, including the 2nd Generation Correlator software workpackage, the Band 6v2 receiver upgrade, the OSF Correlator Room upgrade, and others.
  • Interface with the ALMA/JAO Systems Engineering team leading the WSU and contribute to the overall WSU SE effort, as needed.
  • Manage a potential Systems Engineering Integrated Product Team (IPT) for future major upgrades, including the recruitment and management of the SE IPT members.
  • Oversee and participate in the development of the system design, including the system architecture, interface control documents and other technical documentation.
  • Manage the development of all Systems Engineering documents needed for successful system design reviews.
  • Oversee the preparation and execution of system reviews and assist in managing subsystem design reviews.
  • Oversee the systems engineering management processes, including configuration management, baselining, change management and document management processes.


The position is based at the NRAO/NA ALMA Headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia. The home unit of the position is the NRAO Program Management Department, which will be responsible for training, process definition, and for project management and systems engineering tools and infrastructure. For day-to-day functional responsibilities, the successful candidate will be assigned and report to the NA ALMA Development Project Director. The NRAO offers partial teleworking arrangements.


Position Requirements:

Minimum Education

Bachelor's degree in systems engineering, computer science, software engineering, electrical engineering, or related field.

Preferred Education

Master's degree in systems engineering, computer science, software engineering, electrical engineering, or related field.

Minimum Experience

At least 10 years working as a Systems Engineer in integrated project teams on related projects to the described WSU effort.


Preferred Experience

  • Team leadership experience.
  • Experience of working across life cycle phases including: preliminary design, detail design, design qualification, industrialization, production, construction and transition to operations.
  • Experience in an application domain for the establishment of hi-tech large-scale infrastructure that is related to radio astronomy, such as radar, communication systems or optical telescopes.
  • Exposure to the following technology domains: electromagnetic, RF, digital signal processing, mechanical, software engineering and civil engineering.
  • Experience with model-based systems engineering methodologies and tools
  • Experience with Integrated Logistics Support development.
  • Experience with JAMA requirements management software system



Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) certification or equivalent post-graduate Systems Engineering qualification, or equivalent demonstrated experience. Certification as an Expert Systems Engineer (ESEP) is preferred but not required.


  • Teaming and leadership skills
  • Ability to build consensus between stakeholders
  • Good verbal and written communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Proactive and independent


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. If you will require medical or religious accommodations, please contact the site HR department.

Application Instructions:

Select the “Apply” button below. Please 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.