Manager and Sr Engineer, Maintenance and Engineering

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
To event remaining 61 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
SOFIA / Universities Space Research Association
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Maintenance and Engineering (MandE) Manager manages the MandE staff and activities within the SOFIA project. This includes the management and operation of several facilities:  Science Instrument (SI) Labs, the Preflight Integration Facility (PIF) including the Telescope Assembly Alignment Simulator (TAAS), and the Mirror Coating Facility (MCF) at the Science Operations Center (SOC); as well as an SI Lab in the southern hemisphere while on annual deployment.  Regular activities include installation and daily maintenance of SOFIA science instruments(SIs); pre-flight and post-flight checks of SI and telescope systems; inspection, cleaning, and recoating primary and secondary mirrors; planning and preparation for an annual southern hemisphere deployment; and other maintenance and engineering duties on science related equipment as required by the mission. The MandE Manager will serve as the point of contact for NASA and other contractors for the MandE group.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Lead and manage activities for the MandE group
  • Responsible for managing Facility Science Instrument (FSI) operations, SOFIA Lab facilities and Mirror Coating Facility (MCF) facility
  • Working with Safety and Mission assurance, ensure safety of the team and the facility
  • Identify risks associated with SI issues in view of overall observatory integrated operations
  • Ensure SI (hardware only) readiness for the flight series
  • Schedule staff (aircraft support, lab support, other tasks); ensuring all tasks fall under Core or approved IDIQ contracts and are in compliance
  • Run weekly / biweekly meetings
  • Report up on MandE activities and issues; prepare monthly, quarterly, and annual reports related to status / results
  • Maintain MandE portion of overall Mission Operations task schedule, and ensure appropriate staffing for all activities
  • Understand current and future state of each SI (in conjunction with FSI Engineers), MCF schedule, each lab / general facilities, and staff needs
  • Ensure MandE related manuals, processes, etc. are developed and maintained, such as: Lab and MCF policies, plans, and operations manuals; SI related processes, configuration drawings, ICDs, and maintenance manuals
  • Oversee MandE related Discrepancy Reports (DRs) and Configuration Change Requests (CCRs)
  • Attend Engineering Review Board (ERB) and Observatory Configuration Control Board meetings on behalf of MandE team
  • Write / comment / track relevant DRs and CCRs
  • Schedule staff as appropriate to address DRs and CCRs
  • Assess and adjust to changing situations; identify and implement innovative solutions to make improvements as needed
  • Participate in the day-to-day MandE activities
  • Complete all relevant training to be able to assist with standard aircraft and lab support
  • Check labs on a daily basis to ensure cleanliness, compliance with processes, etc.
  • Ensure daily/regular cryogen and equipment inventory, purchases, and calibrations and performed
  • Serve as back up in one or more groups (lab operations and maintenance, ground support, facility science instruments) as needed
  • Manage staff responsible for timely procurement and accurate inventory management of consumables, spare and replacement parts
  • Complete all administrative tasks in a timely manner: timecards, request for time off, EA/ER approvals, etc.
  • Participate in management meetings
  • Recruit and hire diverse staff who add value and achieve organization goals
  • Lead / manage staff to set and achieve department objectives
  • Communicate pertinent information to staff in a timely manner to ensure staff have a clear understanding of organizational goals and desired results
  • Create a work environment that encourages creative thinking, collaboration, maintains program focus, and produces results
  • Provide an inclusive and safe workplace that fosters the development of others to their full potential
  • Facilitate collaboration, cooperation, teamwork and support constructive resolution of conflict
  • Direct, monitor and evaluate the work of employees, providing performance feedback and development opportunities and intervening to correct performance problems.

Required Qualifications:


  • A Bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related technical field or equivalent is required. Master’s degree is preferred


  • Minimum 5 years of related lab experience in a scientific and/or research environment is required. SOFIA or Science Instrument experience is highly desired
  • Practical hands-on experience with delicate electronic, mechanical, optical connections and instruments, handling cryogens and gases is desirable

Licenses, Certifications & Skills:

  • Must be able to pass an annual basic physical exam for lab work and flight
  • Must complete / pass required periodic training for certifications to work with science instruments in the labs and on the aircraft
  • Proficiency in CAD packages preferably Solidworks or Proe/Creo, or Altium
  • Proficiency in both classical hand calculations and FE tools to design parts for aircraft is highly desirable
  • Demonstrated experience in performing technical tasks in the operation, installation, testing, and maintenance of electronic and mechanical lab equipment including oscilloscopes, digital multi-meters, frequency analyzers, power supplies, data acquisition tools, vacuum pumps and leak detectors is desirable
  • Skills to perform engineering analysis of cryogenic systems such as gas flow rates and pressure drops
  • Knowledge of airworthiness requirements for both mechanical and/or electrical components is highly desirable
  • Understanding of design for assembly and integration in complex optomechanical or optoelectronic devices is desirable
  • Knowledge and skills in maintaining, calibrating, operating, and to some degree modifying, astronomical instruments, in particular instruments including cryogenic systems, optics, and detector arrays is highly desirable

Knowledge & Abilities:  

  • Demonstrated ability to perform technical tasks in one or more MandE area such as installation, testing and maintenance of equipment; engineering skills to perform engineering analysis of cryogenic systems; ability to develop and improve technical manuals; strong knowledge of mechanical and electrical / electronic equipment and instruments.
  • Must understand and follow safety protocols in place.
  • Ability to understand complex SI technical issues to provide direction to the team and to provide realistic schedule and budget estimates for SI operations to the management.
  • Ability to lead and manage a high performing team and maintain team integrity
  • Ability to discern information based on the audience
  • Ability to identify, define, analyze, and address problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions using a wide range of analysis and solution strategies.
  • Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions and deal with several abstract and concrete variables
  • Excellent analytical and abstract reasoning skills; ability to devise, setup, conduct and analyze tests on equipment / instruments.
  • Demonstrated track record of setting and meeting goals. Strong process improvement, decision making, organization, planning and implementation skills.  Strong organizational skills with an ability to balance competing demands. Ability to set priorities, analyze and resolve problems, and make decisions in a timely fashion.
  • Ability to lead, influence and motivate individuals and teams. 
  • An effective communicator at all levels in the organization, with strong oral and written skills and a willingness to share information.  A collaborative and flexible style. Excellent written and oral communication skills. Ability to work effectively with a diverse group of scientists, technicians, engineers, and administrators.
  • Champion continuous improvement
  • Proactively identify risks and provide innovative solutions
  • Must possess soft skills to diffuse conflicts and build relations
  • “Get the job done, ethically” attitude and ability to address issues quickly
  • Good communication skills are a must to motivate team to work towards common goals
  • Must be a role model to the team and possess high degree of integrity
  • Maintain good relations with NASA, DLR and DSI
  • Must clearly articulate team concerns and issues to the management
  • Hire, develop, and lead an inclusive team.
  • Advocate professional growth within the team and mentor team members
  • High level computer skills, including above average knowledge of the Microsoft Office applications.

Working Conditions:

Employees work on a NASA contract in a highly visible public setting. There can be no expectation of personal privacy while performing the job.

The employee must be capable of performing all duties in a technical / scientific setting including offices, laboratories, shops, and aircraft maintenance facilities as well as on the aircraft / observatory, both while on the ground and during flights. 

Employees work on a NASA contract in a highly visible public setting. There can be no expectation of personal privacy while performing the job.

The activities in the office environment include using standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. Extensive online usage.  Keyboarding for large time spans each day will be a significant part of this position. The noise level in the work office environment is typically mild.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee will be exposed to fumes or airborne particles. The employee will be exposed to moving equipment, vehicles and mechanical parts and a noise level consistent with a laboratory / aircraft operation.  The noise level in the work office environment is typically mild.  The environment on the aircraft during flight operations may become noisy, cold, and tiring.

Employee will be required to work with cryogens such as Liquid Helium (4K) and Liquid Nitrogen (77K). Employee is expected to diligently follow learned safety measures associated with cryogens. Also will be operating Helium, Nitrogen and Argon gas cylinders. Training will be provided for safe operations with cryogens and gases. And, will be working in cold and hot weather conditions.

Work on either day or night shift and weekends may be scheduled for this position up to 50% of the time.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand; walk; sit, use hands. The employee may need to lift and / or move up to 50 pounds. 


This position is based at Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in Palmdale, CA; but travel is required at times to NASA Ames Research Center and annual international deployment(s) up to 3 months are required.

Applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer: Minorities / Females / Protected Veterans / Disabled / Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity.

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, September 2, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Thursday, September 2, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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Attention To: 
Ben Tanis
Talent Acquisition
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Attention To: 
Ben Tanis