Electrical Engineer, Power II-IV (4620) - UPDATED

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 that will directly impact the day-to-day operation of the Very Large Array (VLA). In general, the Engineer will provide operational support for the VLA and infrastructure improvements for the array as well as to provide support for early design efforts of the proposed Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA), a radio telescope comprising hundreds of antennae spread across several states and Mexico


The Engineer will have a hands-on role in an exciting scientific environment. The Engineer is expected to work with multiple systems and groups in order to safely and continually power 28 radio telescopes, the site buildings, and the VLA’s correlator and other critical computing hardware. The Engineer will conceptualize, research, plan, conduct and coordinate electrical engineering work on operations and other projects of considerable scope and complexity. The Engineer also provides expert consultation for the design, development and implementation of electrical engineering solutions.


The position is based at the VLA, 50 miles west of Socorro, NM. The position is based at the VLA, 50 miles west of Socorro, New Mexico and home to one of the world’s most famous telescopes. 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. This additional 10 percent contribution does not require a match from 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, preventive maintenance, and modification of the electrical power and Medium voltage (12470) power distribution system at the Very Large Array as well as the site backup generators.
  • Determine and direct corrective maintenance and repair of assigned equipment, systems, and structures.
  • Assist in preparing and implementing Preventative Maintenance (PM) and Standard Operating Procedures in compliance with relevant safety and electrical codes, such as 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 the VLA site’s Arc Flash labeling, as required.
  • 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.


Additional duties include:

  • Continue personal/professional development by reading relevant literature, learning new systems and equipment, and taking relevant classes. Must become 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.  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