Head of Mechanical Engineering

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Monday, August 17, 2020
Archive Date: 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
La Serena
Job Announcement Text: 

NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) is the US national center for ground-based night-time astronomy. NOIRLab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) which operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs with facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Chile and Hawai’i. With a staff of approximately 450 people and an annual budget of one hundred million dollars, NOIRLab has a complex set of partnerships and operating requirements. While the principal sponsor of NOIRLab is the National Science Foundation, the Lab receives funds from the US Department of Energy, NASA, and other US and international institutions in support of a wide range of activities. 

NOIRLab is seeking a Head of Mechanical Engineering (ME) to be part of the NOIRLab Engineering Services (ES) division in charge of providing integrated, matrixed engineering capabilities for operations and projects to all NOIRLab science programs. NOIRLab is in an exciting time of transition. NOIRLab, launched in October 2019, integrates the operations of several existing, federally funded, astronomical observatories.  This first step in the transition focused on facilities and IT operations. The next step will take place in October 2020 and will focus on science and engineering operations.  The Head of ME will share responsibility with the rest of the leadership team to support the management of these changes. 

The Mechanical Engineering (ME) group will provide excellence in the design, construction, commissioning and maintenance of all mechanical and physical plant equipment at the telescopes including observatories’ instrumentation, and the operation of machine shops.

The Head of ME will responsible for the strategic, long-term leadership and management of the integrated NOIRLab Mechanical Group (~40 FTE) distributed over the three NOIRLab facilities in Chile, Hawai'i and Tucson. The Head of ME will support and work with program leadership (site manager/telescope/engineering and project managers) to ensure mechanical expertise is available as required. The position will be based at one of the three locations of NOIRLab with frequent international travel required to visit the other sites.

 Essential Functions:

  • Manages the assignment of Engineering Services (ES) Mechanical staff to functional roles as required by the NOIRLab Programs.
  • As part of the Engineering leadership team manage the change into the matrix NOIRLab organization.
  • Works with staff and management in both the science-delivery programs and services group, to build understanding of and consensus around the new Engineering Services unit in NOIRLab.
  • Provides oversight and high-level direction to ME staff; optimizes organizational structure and reporting lines within ME.
  • Serves as Deputy for the Director of Engineering Services as needed.
  • Establishes and promotes a broad, innovative technology roadmap in consultation with the Programs, while optimizing the productivity and cost-effectiveness of mechanical systems with a strong focus on reliability.
  • Identifies synergies and opportunities for collaboration across sites by identifying technical areas of common interest by direct interaction with mechanical staff in NOIRLab and Program management.
  • Performance Management: In collaboration with the functional managers in the Programs, focuses on developing competences (technical and soft skills) that help the mechanical engineering staff to achieve their goals as driven and defined by the program needs.
  • Establishes and maintains regular reporting on performance, progress and concerns to the ES director on the areas that fall within ME.
  • Workforce Capacity Planning: Builds the engineering capability by maintaining mechanical skills matrix up to date. Builds and maintains a diverse and competent workforce, responding to the Program needs, by professional development of ME staff
  • Recruitment: Leads recruitment in the mechanical domain by seeking input from Programs on current and future needs, taking into account succession planning, expected turn-over and future project needs.
  • Budget Management: Responsible for budgets for training and travel for professional development.
  • Risk Management: Maintains risk registered up to date in the mechanical area.
  • Set standards for mechanical engineering practices, explore opportunities for standardization on tools and processes. Oversees and ensures compliance with applicable legislation in the mechanical domain.
  • Works with local managers to ensure the workplaces are compliant with all federal U.S. or local regulations, whichever are the more stringent.
  • Promotes Safety and Health & Environment (SHE) awareness through internal NOIRLab channels.
  • Demonstrates for all audiences a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.
  • Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management System.

 Required Education/ Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • A bachelor’s degree in mechanical/industrial engineering or relevant experience.
  • Bilingual Spanish/English.
  • Proven ability to lead diverse teams, across a multi-site environment, to high performance and excellence, through active career development.
  • Solid verbal and written communication 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 vehicle.

 Preferred Education/ Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Experience with systems engineering.
  • Professional certification in mechanical domain.
  • Training and certification in project/program management.

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 is mostly carried out in an office environment, but with required visits to our facilities. Given the international nature of NOIRLab, you may need to travel to the various observatory sites (Arizona, Chile and Hawai`i), and occasional work at high elevation summit sites may be required (summit elevations range from 6,800 feet to 14,000 feet).  

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please submit your CV/Resume along with a Cover Letter in English (PDF files preferred) and provide contact information of 3 professional references in your application, references will be contacted later in the recruiting process. 

Please name any attachments with the following format: LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to employment@aura-astronomy.org

For full consideration please submit your application by September 7th, 2020 

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation. 

AURA offers competitive salaries based on market rates and a generous package of benefits.  

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at NOIRLab.  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 http://www.aura-astronomy.org/diversity.asp 

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at employment@aura-astronomy.org 

* NOIRLab has all staff working virtually during the COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and arrangements may be made for remote work. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported.    

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three 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 NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

Included Benefits: 

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

Application Deadline: 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, September 14, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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