Electrical Engineer, Power II-IV (4620)

Engineers, Technical Specialists and Technicians Socorro, New Mexico


 Position Description:


Position Summary

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is committed to maintaining the world’s most accomplished observatories while developing new technology to enable further research in radio astronomy.  The NRAO invites candidates to apply for an Electronics Engineer opportunity. There are currently two high-profile efforts to which the engineer will contribute:


  • Conceptualization of the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA), a radio telescope comprising hundreds of antennae spread across several states and Mexico
  • The Very Large Array (VLA) infrastructure improvement effort (recently funded by the National Science Foundation)


In general, the Engineer will provide operational support for the VLA. The Engineer will conceptualize, research, plan, conduct and coordinates detailed phases of engineering work on problems/projects of considerable scope and complexity requiring the use of highly innovative approaches and techniques; provides expert consultation for the design, development and implementation of complex engineering solutions. The Engineer will also determine feasibility of designing new construction or modifying existing facilities considering costs, available space, time limitations, organizational planning, and other technical and economic factors, utilizing professional engineering theory and practices.  Will estimate costs related to layout design, including equipment and materials, labor, etc., and will monitor the construction process.  In addition, the Engineer will coordinate site maintenance activities with the Environmental Safety and Security (ES&S) division to ensure the facility’s compliance with all health, safety, and environmental regulations. The selected candidate will be recognized as a technical leader and resource to the Observatory; will supervise the work of others.


The position is based at the VLA, 50 miles west of Socorro, NM. Socorro is a small, historical town in the Rio Grande Valley, 75 miles south of Albuquerque and is home to New Mexico Tech (www.nmt.edu). 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

  • Responsible for all aspects of the safety, maintenance, and modification of the electrical power and Medium voltage (12470) power distribution system at the Very Large Array. 
  • Continue personal/professional development by reading relevant literature, learning new systems and equipment, and taking relevant classes. Must be familiar with site system:  generator control logic, servo, electrical power distribution, radios, fire alarms, lightning protection, and transporter electronic and logic systems.  Learn and maintain generator operating procedures and control logic for paralleling with local utility.
  • Must be able to anticipate problems and improve efficiency, reliability, serviceability, cost effectiveness, and safety.  Determines repair and maintenance needs.  Coordinate and direct operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment, systems, and structures.
  • Responsible for engineering analysis, design, and execution of major projects and new systems.  Make decisions and determinations in the design, procurement, manufacturing, erection, and testing processes, and some degree of initial operation.  Assists in preparing costs and time analyses of various projects.  Makes recommendations for procedures, equipment purchases, and other improvements.
  • May direct other engineering and technical personnel in the fabrication and test of equipment, and determine methods, procedures, and conditions for testing.  Ensure manufacturing, construction, installation, and operational testing conforms to functional specifications and requirements.
  • Uses computer assisted engineering and design software and equipment to design analog and digital electronic equipment, components, and systems in the support of radio telescopes.  Included may be RF, power, medium voltage three-phase power distribution, controls, instrumentation, monitoring, telemetry, communications, and ultra-low noise/small signal considerations.
  • May modify existing software, PLC Ladder design, and/or hardware to add new features and improvements, or correct original design short-comings, as required. 
  • Work with programmers and scientists to identify and solve problems. 
  • In accordance with the Observatory’s policies and applicable law, may supervise other Engineers, Technical Specialists, Technicians, Cooperative Education students and/or summer students in a variety of site tasks.   Responsibilities may include hiring, training, planning, assigning and directing work, addressing complaints, and resolving problems.
  • Proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures in own work area is expected.  Assist in preparing and implementing Electrical Safety, Job Specific Preventative Maintenance (PM) and Operational Procedures in compliance with relevant safety and electrical codes, NFPA 70E, OSHA, National Electric Codes.  Monitor and audit Electrical Safety PPE for Site Electricians and others involved with Site power. Become familiar with existing ETAP arc flash software, Power System Fuse coordination software and other related electrical power software. Update as required Arc Flash labeling site wide.  
  • Investigate and recommend possible energy conservation measures, site (or company) wide. 
  • Interface with local utility and monitor site power quality, perform power surveys as required using power monitoring equipment such a Dranetz or other analyzer.
  • Plan and supervise major site annual power outages dealing with PM of major switchgear and protective relays and equipment.
  • Responsible for maintaining Site Fire Alarm Systems
  • Other duties as assigned.


Competency Summary

Requires the use of PCs, workstations, software packages, and fabrication and test equipment appropriate to the field of expertise.  At minimum requires a general understanding of microcode, microprocessor assembly language, HDL/VHDL, and/or high level C or other programming languages, and digital devices/logic such as TTL, ECL, PAL, and FPGA.  Requires an understanding of power systems and DC and RF analog devices such as diodes and transistors.  Requires continued training in engineering, electronics, and other fields, depending on the area of assignment.  Must possess leadership capabilities. Professional Engineers (PE) License preferred.


Work Environment

Work is performed in a research or development environment.  Employees are required to work in the field on antennae or other piece of equipment.  Will be required to stand and sit, and perform fine hand manipulation. Must be able to operate a personal computer.  Must work near moving mechanical parts and/or with electrical equipment.  Occasionally required to climb an antenna (antenna height is 95’) and balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch.  Will work at high altitudes (~7000 feet) in high, precarious places and in outside weather conditions, and may be exposed to chemicals and the risk of electrical shock.  Must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.  Must have the ability to work effectively in a team and be able to clearly communicate both verbally and in writing.  Specific vision abilities include close vision, distance vision, color and depth perception.  Must have a valid driver’s license.  Occasional travel may be required.


Position Requirements:


Minimum Education

Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering or a related field.


Preferred Education

An advanced degree in a related filed is desired.


Minimum Experience

At least 1 year of relevant experience that reflects demonstrated capabilities of responsible engineering leadership.


Preferred Experience

Five or more years of relevant experience.


Additional Requirements

The Observatory requires staff to be fully vaccinated against covid-19 to access our facilities.  An offer of employment will be considered contingent until the selected applicant provides proof of vaccination.  A selected applicant may request consideration for an accommodation for a disability or for a sincerely held religious belief.


Application Instructions:


Click the “Apply” button below.  You will need to 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 http://jobs.jobvite.com/nrao/jobs.  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]. PM20


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