Systems Engineer/ Project Manager

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
Street Line 1: 
c/o AURA, Casilla 603
La Serena
Job Announcement Text: 

The international Gemini Observatory is seeking a Systems Engineer or Project Manager. Gemini has an increasing number of new instrumentation and other development projects to pursue and needs additional expertise to help us complete our ambitious program. To give the observatory maximum flexibility, the ideal candidate would have a successful track record in both systems engineering and project management positions. However, candidates with a strong background in one discipline or the other will also be competitive in the selection process.

The Systems Engineer or Project Manager will primarily support project management and/or systems engineering tasks in our facility instrument and instrument upgrade programs. Current active projects include the GHOST high-resolution spectrograph, the SCORPIO optical to infrared imager and spectrograph, an upgrade to the Gemini Planet Imager, a new version of the high-resolution infrared spectrograph IGRINS as a facility instrument for Gemini, and a new adaptive secondary mirror for the Gemini North telescope along with a number of additional instrument upgrades and visitor instrument projects. We are committed to diversity and inclusion at Gemini Observatory. Our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at We seek an individual who thrives in a culturally diverse environment.

The position is located at the Gemini South (GS) Observatory in La Serena, Chile.

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid vacation leave, parental leave and retirement benefits.

All applicants must submit a cover letter with their CV that describes their interest in this position and their relevant experience along. Please include a list of 3 professional references with contact information.  

The Gemini Observatory is managed by The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a consortium of over 40 US institutions and four international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Activities and Functions of the Job:

Depending on the successful candidate’s skills and experiences, work functions will include a subset of the following:

  • Support the Observatory’s growing instrumentation development program in a project management and/or system engineering role.
  • Lead and collaborate on Function-Based Systems Engineering (FBSE) needs identification, requirements definition and requirements analysis, and perform requirements management and verification.
  • Lead the project management activities on Gemini’s instrumentation projects, from initial project planning and design through commissioning at Gemini. Work with internal and external teams to review and oversee work quality from a technical perspective. Provide the programmatic interface to Gemini with external teams.  
  • Provide thorough cost, schedule, and technical oversight of the projects assigned.  Identify potential issues early in the project planning and design stages. Review and help ensure proper implementation during the build phase.
  • Lead project configuration and knowledge management, including change control.
  • Collaborate on project risk management and quality management.
  • Collaborate on design and implementation activities including oversight to ensure adherence to systems engineering and project management best practices. 
  • Collaborate on integration and test activities including oversight to ensure adherence to systems engineering and project management best practices. 
  • Lead and collaborate on transition and project close out activities.
  • Supervise and mentor junior personnel as needed.
  •  Ensure the safe conduct of operations and activities of self and subordinates.  See that safety is built into projects and plans for the future. 

Training will be provided in these functions where needed.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

To be productive in this role, we expect the successful candidate will have a number of the following degrees, experiences, skills and abilities:

  • BS degree in an engineering or science discipline with courses in pertinent fields such as systems engineering, aerospace engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, or astronomy.
  • Demonstrated experience with industry standard systems engineering and/or project management tools.
  • Demonstrated systems engineering and/or project management experience through the entire lifecycle of large, complex projects.
  • Demonstrated experience working with geographically distributed teams. 
  • Demonstrated experience working with both internal and externally contracted teams in a systems engineering and/or project management role.
  • Experience in both development and operations environments.
  • Experience in an Observatory environment.
  • Must have a valid Driver’s License; clean driving record; ability to drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
  • Systems engineering expertise across the system lifecycle.
  • Cooperative and independent leadership and management of technical activities throughout the system lifecycle.
  • Effective leadership and collaboration with people of diverse professions and background.
  • Excellent written and verbal communications.
  • Ability to easily grasp a wide range of engineering and science concepts and terminology pertaining to observatories.
  • Ability to ethically and inclusively lead teams and perform work in a safe and welcoming environment.
  • Ability to work independently, manage multiple assignments simultaneously and prioritize activities as needed.
  • Ability to garner consensus, make decisions, and communicate to stakeholders.
  • Must be able to travel internationally in performance of these duties.

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Advanced degree in an Engineering or Science discipline with courses in pertinent fields such as systems engineering, aerospace engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, and astronomy.
  • 5+ years as a Systems Engineer or performing systems engineering functions.
  • 5+ years as a Project Manager or performing project management functions.
  • Experience with Adaptive Optics instruments.
  • Fluency in English required, and fluency in Spanish desirable.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those 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.

The work of a Gemini Systems Engineer or Project Manager is mostly carried out in an office environment near sea level. Long periods of sitting may be required.

Applications will be reviewed upon receipt. Application deadline is October 18, 2019. 

Position will remain open until filled.

Preference will be given to qualified internal applicants.

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. 

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor’s legal duty to furnish information.

Included Benefits: 

AURA provides compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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AURA Human Resources
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