Systems Software Engineer- #02981

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
Space Telescope Science Institute
Street Line 1: 
3700 San Martin Dr
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Russell B. Makidon Optics Laboratory at the Space Telescope Science Institute seeks a Software Systems Engineer to help advance optical instrumentation for future large space observatories. Do you want join a team developing systems to one day search for life on habitable Earths outside our Solar System? Our laboratory operates several experiments dedicated to exoplanet imaging with space telescopes. Our lab is entering a stage of maturity with a new funded cycle covering at least the next three years to further technology readiness into more realistic regimes.

The team implements modern software development practices in a leading-edge research environment. As our full time software engineer you will play a central role. You will contribute not only to software but also to algorithm development, experiments design, hardware, grant applications, and conference papers. Our team regularly gives presentations within the Institute and at scientific conferences. The team will support contributions in these areas depending on your skills and interest. We also want to learn from you both on the software and process sides. We are eager to hear your ideas on process improvements to keep our team at the forefront of industry best practices.

Essential Functions:

You will, design, develop, test and deploy software to operates our lab experiments, in close collaboration with the lab’s technical and scientific staff. You will maintain and extend the current object-oriented Python package, analyze images, and maintain hardware safety.

You will expand our parallel processing and process communications to enable multiple hardware control loops in addition to our safety monitoring already in place.

You will build on manufacturers APIs and SDKs in multiple forms (dlls, c++, c#, Python, etc.) to control hardware interfaces, including deformable mirrors, filter wheels, motorized optical mounts, and piezo-electric optics controllers.

Beyond your software role, you will have opportunities to contribute to all of our optical and mechanical operations inside our Class 1,000 cleanroom.

Bring your passion and your enthusiasm to communicate results in scientific papers, conference presentations, and the general public.


You need expertise in more than one language. You will work principally in advanced Python. You will use context managers, exception handling, iterators, closures and lambda functions, and threading. You will also integrate or port prototypes in Mathematica, MATLAB and other languages. Experience with low-level process or hardware control systems on Windows will help.

You have proven success through the full software development lifecycle. This includes inception through operations and maintenance, requirements elicitation, collaborative design and iterative development, continuous integration, automated testing, and deployment.

Your practical experience with agile development and project management practices is key. Experience with feature branching in git, or similar experience with another modern system is essential.

Bachelor’s degree in Computer/Electrical Engineering, Software Engineering, or Computer Science; advanced degree preferred. At least three years of professional experience. Education or professional background in astronomy or optics research, or software development in a research environment would help.

While a significant fraction of the work can be carried out from our lab office space, you will need to spend prolonged time in a low-humidity cleanroom environment. You will get to wear appropriate cleanroom gowning (aka "bunny suits"). Cleanroom activities include working over optical tables, use of ladders and carrying delicate equipment up to 40 lbs.

Our group at STScI is dedicated to developing cutting-edge high-contrast imaging solutions for future observatories, while fostering a learning environment for the future generations of technologists and scientists. Our group typically has a balanced mix of undergraduate interns, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and permanent staff. We believe that diversity of knowledge and expertise with collaborations beyond astronomy (e.g. physics, engineering, computer sciences, optics) is key to the advancement of our projects.

We recognize that in order to have a robust scientific environment, we also need diversity in experience, background, and identity. Working in a more diverse lab improves the environment and work quality, and also aligns with the goals of STScI and the astronomical community at large. The senior staff on the team are all actively committed to the mentoring and career advancement of the scientists and technical staff in our team.

STScI offers an excellent compensation package, tuition reimbursement, competitive salaries, and a stimulating work environment. If you are interested in joining our team you should submit an on-line application at:

Resumes received by November 15, 2018, will receive full consideration.

STScI sees the diversity of its staff as a strategic priority in our desire to create a first-rate scientific community. We reflect that deep dedication in strongly encouraging women, minorities, veterans and disabled individuals to apply for these opportunities. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, STScI does not discriminate because of race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, or mental or physical handicap. EOE/AA/M/F/D/V.

If anyone needs assistance applying, please email

Pay Compensation
Compensation Notes: 
Application Deadline: 
Thursday, November 22, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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