Head of Systems Engineering & Project Management

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Friday, September 23, 2022
Archive Date: 
Friday, October 21, 2022
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
La Serena
Job Announcement Text: 

NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is an AURA-managed center headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. NSF’s NOIRLab operates the Gemini Observatory, Vera C. Rubin Observatory, Mid-Scale Observatories (MSO, which includes Kitt Peak National Observatory and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory) and Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) in the United States and in Chile. NOIRLab is the US national center for ground-based observational nighttime astronomy, and has sites of operations in Hawai`i, Arizona, and Chile. NOIRLab launched in October 2019, with 450 FTEs and an ~$80M USD annual budget.

NOIRLab Engineering Services (ES) provides integrated, matrixed engineering capabilities for operations and projects to all NOIRLab science programs. The current ES organization is grouped into four (4) disciplines, mechanical, electrical, optical and software engineering, with a total staff number of 130 FTE between engineers and technicians. To complete the ES organization, we are creating the Systems Engineering & Project Management group (SE/PM). This group will be the home of all system engineer and project management experts to support NOIRLab’s operations and project portfolio, like instrumentation development (adaptive optics), software development for USELTP and the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) or system performance monitoring.

The Head of Systems Engineering & Project Management is responsible for developing and implementing a Framework to deliver common processes to deal with stakeholders (and user) expectations for scientific and technical problems, define functional, performance and interface requirements, develop design solutions, and strategies and plans from implementation, integration, verification, and validation of chosen solutions. Also, the Head of Systems Engineering and Project Management should develop strategies, processes, and plans for overall project and systems management, configuration management, risk management, requirements management, maintenance management strategies, RAMS, planning & scheduling, and project management.

We foresee the SE/PM group to provide expertise and capabilities in the following areas:

  • Project/Product oriented systems engineering. Capabilities to support development projects from initiation to closure, including requirements definition and management, project trade or feasibility studies, interface control, RAMS & quality assurance.
  • Process oriented systems engineering. Capabilities to support work processes, like systems maintenance strategy for optimization, spare parts definition, and management, KPI tracking and benchmarking, process optimization.
  • Project management support. In close collaboration with the Portfolio Management Office define and apply standard methodologies across NOIRLab, as well as provide expert project, risk, and resource management support to key projects, as required.

We expect the leader of this group to build on existing expertise and experience available across NOIRLab by actively working with stakeholders in defining a system engineering framework. This will be complemented by collaboration with the Portfolio management office (PMO) in developing and applying standard project management principles and techniques. There is an opportunity to define a tailored model that is suited for NOIRLab’s needs now, and in the future, the successful candidate is expected to take a leading role in creating the Framework.

Duty station is at one of the three locations of NOIRLab with international travel required to visit the other sites

Essential Functions:

  • Defines Systems Engineering Framework through stakeholder feedback and functional analysis of the SE group to deliver the NOIRLab SEP (Systems Engineering Plan).
  • Plans and allocates resources to Programs and Projects, alignment of expertise to specific needs, with a focus on quality of service and staff growth opportunities.
  • Provides leadership for staff with emphasis on capability building.
  • Is responsible for building the workforce by recruitment, performance management, professional staff development and succession planning.
  • Promotes Safety, Health & Environment (SHE) awareness in all activities.
  • Demonstrates for all audiences a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Degree in Engineering or Physics, with seven (7) plus years’ experience working in multi-disciplinary projects, experience with systems engineering & project management and with three (3) years leading teams (engineering, project management, technical and administrative staff).
  • Good understanding of system engineering & project management practices by formal training and/or certification or through appropriate experience in a similar role.
  • Ability to see the global impact of configuration changes, performance analysis and communicate that with a diverse group of stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead diverse teams, across a multi-site environment, to high performance and excellence, through active career development.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication, listening skills; ability to clearly communicate at all levels within the organization.
  • Ability to develop and administer effective business and operations plans to meet the needs for NOIRLab including budget responsibility.
  • Strong focus on process optimization, safe working principles and operational excellence.
  • Must have a valid Driver’s License; clean driving record; ability to drive a 4-wheel vehicle.

Preferred Education/ Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Bilingual in Spanish/English.
  • Professional Certification like Systems Engineering INCOSE
  • Training and certification in project/program management PMP/PRINCE2
  • Ground based Observatory experience in a Systems Engineering and/or Project Management role(s).

Physical Requirements:

There are basic physical requirements that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. This position is required to pass medical examination post offer and potentially at specified intervals while employed, if medically necessary.

Additionally, occasional work at high elevation summit sites may be required; summit elevations range from 6,800 feet to 14,000 feet. Likewise, given the international nature of NOIRLab some travel may be necessary both domestic and international.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/resume along with a Cover Letter in English (PDF files). Also, kindly provide contact information of 3 professional references in your application, as references will be contacted later in the recruiting process. Please name any attachments with the following format: Lastname.Docname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected]

COVID-19 POLICY UPDATE:  AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated, including being up to date on boosters, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons.  All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment.  Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed. 

This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule). Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

AURA currently offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will interview and screen candidates virtually, and offers of employment can be extended and new hires may onboard virtually. Employees are required to be residents in their base job location within a limited time from their start date.

Application Deadline: 
Friday, October 21, 2022
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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AURA Human Resources
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