Software Group Lead: CASA Pipeline

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Street Line 3: 
520 Edgemont Rd
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 


Position Description:

Would you like to be part of leading and developing mission-critical software for some of the largest scientific endeavors on the planet? Would you like to be part of a highly skilled international team of engineers and scientists pushing the boundaries of humankind’s knowledge of the universe?

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is seeking a full-time Common Astronomy Software Application (CASA) Pipeline Software Group Lead who will be responsible for the short- and long-term planning, management, and development activities for a radio interferometer data reduction and analysis pipeline. The Pipeline Group is responsible for the CASA pipelines, which provide heuristic-based automated processing for calibration and imaging. These software products have the primary responsibility of supporting the data post-processing needs of NRAO’s current generation of radio astronomical telescopes, ALMA and the VLA. The Pipeline can process both interferometric and single dish data, and is developed by an international consortium of scientists and developers based at the National Radio Astronomical Observatory (NRAO), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), under the guidance of NRAO.

As the leader of an international development project, experience in achieving results indirectly, e.g., in collaborations or through people in other organizations is a key to success in this position.

The CASA pipelines provide a layer of telescope specific heuristics, using CASA and implemented in python, connected to observatory systems to allow automated data calibration and imaging.

 Over the next decade, our software infrastructure will evolve to enable several orders of magnitude greater performance scaling to support the upcoming Next Generation VLA (ngVLA) telescope and ALMA’s wideband sensitivity upgrade. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to participate in and guide the early stages of the software infrastructure design and development towards these goals.

 The position can be based at our headquarters in Charlottesville, VA; at the Science Operations Center in Socorro, NM; at a satellite office in Albuquerque, NM; or at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. A remote work arrangement within the continental United States may be possible for highly qualified applicants.

 In addition to competitive pay, NRAO provides excellent paid time off benefits (vacation and sick leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay. No contribution is required of the employee; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

 Job Duties Summary:

The Pipeline Lead is responsible for the international CASA Pipeline development team including development teams in other regions, and is responsible for the overall personnel and technical management of the extended team. The successful candidate will also take responsibility for regular reporting on management status and compliance with deadlines to senior management at NRAO and other participating organizations, and may be asked to present that status to other stakeholders or advisory bodies in formal or informal reviews.  

  • Personnel management involves building and maintaining a culture of trust, mutual collaboration, accountability, and excellence within the department/division and with the Stakeholders. This includes:
  • Seeking to increase the diversity and inclusion of the group through robust recruiting and onboarding practices.
  • Reviewing timesheets and periodic performance reviews, including interacting with the Human Resources and Business departments of the Observatory when necessary.
  • With guidance from the Observatory Human Resource Department coordinates and advises on personnel matters, ensuring compliance with applicable policies such as affirmative action.
  • Advises staff on technical and operational matters, instructs and orients new employees as necessary.
  • Interprets, implements, develops and/or recommends changes to rules, regulations, policies and procedures set forth by the Observatory.
  • Proactive compliance with NRAO and government safety policies and procedures in own work area is expected.
  • Programmatic management involves oversight of all aspects of the lifecycle of software for which the group is responsible, including:
  • Gathering of requirements, planning development, assigning tasks, tracking progress, coordinating integration, testing, acceptance, and release while fulfilling high standards of quality.
  • Managing stakeholder relationships, establishing priorities based on stakeholder needs, and maintaining effective communications.
  • Technical management involves interacting directly with all group members:
  • Developing the pipeline infrastructure to support retrieval of data from the archive, generation of pipeline processing requests, standard pipeline recipes, creation of final data products, and final ingestion of products into the archive.
  • Guiding the integration of pipeline components, tasks, heuristics, quality assessment, and logs into the pipeline system.
  • Maintaining a consistent view and quality of implementation across all of the software.
  • Approving technical direction within the team.
  • Interacting with a team of expert developers and improving on present practices whenever and wherever appropriate, in agreement with the CASA Group Lead where necessary.

Work Environment

Work is typically performed in a research and development office environment. Occasional travel (domestic and international) may be required.

Position Requirements:  

Minimum Education

Bachelor’s degree in computer science, physics, astronomy, or related field. Advanced degree preferred.

 Minimum Experience

At least seven years of experience in software development, with at least three or more years of experience leading a software group of three or more people.  Equivalent relevant experience will be considered. 

 Preferred Education

An advanced degree in a closely related field.

 Preferred Experience

Relevant experience with radio astronomy data reduction and analysis software and procedures is preferred.  Knowledge of radio interferometric theory and practice would be valuable.  Demonstrated leadership in complex environments and experience leading larger and geographically distributed software teams is preferred.

 Additional Skills & Abilities:

  • Strong interpersonal and group communications skills, oral and written.
  • Familiarity with a wide variety of technologies, such as C, C++, Python, testing frameworks, threading, parallelization.
  • Ability to translate science requirements into software requirements.
  • Understanding of software architecture and the implications it has for development.
  • Must possess strong leadership and delegation capabilities. Ability to maintain and develop productive collaborations across organizations, anticipate and mitigate political and technical issues.
  • Demonstrated strong initiative in refining and clarifying requirements, defining and implementing QA processes, plan definition and monitoring, defining technical direction, and facilitating alignment.
  • Ability to learn new areas and apply learning.
  • Strong troubleshooting and problem-solving abilities.
  • Familiarity with project management concepts and techniques.


Competency Summary

The Pipeline Lead is expected to have demonstrated experience leading software development groups, preferably within the domain of astronomy. The successful candidate shall also have experience in leading a distributed team of developers and be familiar with management, planning, and reporting aspects. The candidate should be prepared to deal with already ongoing activities, while also having the ability to formulate a long-term direction. Candidates should have experience balancing the maintenance, improvement, and enhancement of operational software. Planning skills and appropriate management of a team of expert developers and scientists are essential. Competency and experience dealing with the development process from requirements gathering, to development, testing and the formalism needed to achieve an orderly process is also expected. Must be able to build strong and productive relationships with stakeholders who have complex and sometimes conflicting requirements, such as scientists, development partners, and operations organizations. Strong decision-making, consensus building, and communication skills are essential.


Additional Requirement

The Observatory has determined that all employees who intend to be physically present in the facilities and employees who work in safety sensitive positions are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in accordance with our AUI vaccine policy and provide proof of full vaccination prior to your start date. A selected applicant may request consideration for an accommodation for a disability or a sincerely held religious belief.

Application Instructions:


Select the “Apply” button. You will need to be prepared to upload your current resume and a cover letter describing interest and suitability for the position.


Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:

 AUI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. To view our complete statement, please visit If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to [email protected].
          The NRAO is an equal opportunity employer (M/F/D/V)

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 31, 2023
Selection Deadline: 
Friday, March 31, 2023
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Laura Jensen
Deputy Assistant Director
Department Name: 
Software Development Div
United States of America