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A full list of employment opportunities with both the Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory can be found via the links below. For openings at the Observatory, select 'McDonald Observatory' as the hiring organization. Listings will include both Austin and Fort Davis, TX.


Jobs will be posted here when open.

Resident Astronomer - Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Job Description:

Serve as on-site scientific observing specialist with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) using multiple facility instruments.

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Job Details:

General Notes

This position is for a resident astronomer at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which operates on a 24/7 schedule. Position is located at McDonald Observatory, 16 miles from Ft. Davis, Texas (440 miles west of UT Austin campus). Frequent night, weekend, and holiday duty required. Occasional on-call duty required. Residence in the Observatory's residential community is available and may be required. Position may be subject to "call-back" as an essential employee for emergencies or critical response. Must be authorized to work in the U.S. on a full-time basis for any employer.

Responsibilities

  • Science Operations: Lead nightly science operations from sunset to sunrise safely and efficiently, including observing with facility instruments based upon weather constraints and queue priorities as set by the principal investigator (PI) and Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC). Evaluate scientific quality of all observations based on the needs of various research projects, communicate effectively with PIs at partner institutions.
  • Night Operations: Communicate with the telescope operator about scientific, facility, and weather constraints. Keep accurate, professional, and clear night report and problem report logs. Document the current status of the facility through wikis and web pages. Contribute to a productive and efficient working environment.
  • Engineering Operations: Coordinate with visiting and remote engineering staff to complete engineering, instrument commissioning and observing goals. Provide support and advice to maximize observing run outputs. Monitor the condition of the facility science instruments.
  • Day Operations: Support night operations by preparing the facility for science operations including testing and calibrating equipment and software, and communicating with the resident astronomer on night-duty regarding the status of the facility and queue.
  • Projects and Other Duties as Assigned: Conduct projects to characterize and/or improve night operations. Work with other resident astronomers to keep a fully staffed work schedule for every night of the year. Attend general and night-time operation staff meetings. Keep accurate and updated time sheets, and complete required training and paperwork in a timely manner.
  • Research environment: Conduct up to 25% personal research, become an active user of the Observatory instruments, and contribute to the scientific life at the Observatory. Prepare and present scientific papers at astronomical meetings. Participate in outreach activities such as giving public talks, giving tours of the facility, and attending colloquiums.

Required Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in astronomy or physics, or equivalent.
  • Two years of instrumentation, observations, or data reduction experience with 1+m class telescopes collecting science-grade astronomical data.
  • Research experience in any area of astronomy.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work efficiently and productively with small teams (listen, seek clarification, and take feedback) during the time critical science operations.
  • At least two years of experience with a scientific programing language.
  • Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Two years of instrumentation, observations, or data reduction experience working on 3+m class telescopes in optical and/or near infra-red spectroscopy.
  • Postdoctoral research experience and strong track record of research outputs and publications.
  • Capacity to oversee software development related to data acquisition, reduction, and analysis.
  • Experience writing code in Python.
  • A strong demonstrated commitment to service astronomy.
  • Proven organizational, managerial, and leadership skills to fill in for the HET Science Operations Manager as needed or lead a small team on an improvement or characterization project.
  • Ability to conduct personal research projects with the HET or other McDonald telescopes.

Work Shift

40 hours; required to work extended hours (sunset to sunrise) and on-call

Required Materials

  • Resume/CV

  • 3 work references with their contact information; at least one reference should be from a supervisor
  • Letter of interest

Additional information and to apply: https://utaustin.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UTstaff/job/MCDONALD-OBSERVATORY/Resident-Astronomer---Hobby-Eberly-Telescope_R_00008175

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Electrical Engineer - Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Job Description:

This hands-on position maintains, designs and improves functionality of electrical, electronic,
electromechanical and electro-optical subsystems on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope to achieve the scientific
goals of McDonald Observatory.

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Job Details:

General Notes

This position is at McDonald Observatory, located 16 miles from Fort Davis, Texas (440 miles away from the UT Austin campus). The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) is a 24/7 operation and you may be expected to work at all hours of the day or night, weekends or holidays (when needed and within limits) to serve the scientifically needs of the Observatory and specifically the HET. Residence in the Observatory's residential community may be available and may be required. Position may be subject to “call-back” as an essential employee for emergency or critical response. Must be eligible to work in the US on a full-time basis for any employer without sponsorship.

Responsibilities

  • At the direction of the HET Engineering Manager, conducts tasks that modify, repair or reconfigure the HET electrical, electro-optical and electro-mechanical subsystems.
  • Attends and constructively participates in daily operations meetings, weekly HET staff meetings and periodic technical reviews.
  • Works constructively and cooperatively with McDonald Observatory Austin technical staff on HET engineering improvements.
  • Provides daily reporting of your activities.
  • Provides input into long-term planning and technical direction for HET engineering tasks. Works cooperatively and constructively with the HET electrical and mechanical teams to aid in implementing and conducting a professional program of preventive maintenance on HET electrical, electro-mechanical and electro-optical systems.
  • Periodically performs operations engineering duty.
  • Responds as necessary to night-time repair and maintenance calls from telescope operations staff.
  • Other related duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications

Master's degree in electrical engineering and two years of related experience, or Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and four years of related experience. Ability to do hands on work to repair and refurbish existing equipment and electronics as well as design and build new systems. Candidates should have the work ethic and drive to maximize the scientific output of the telescope. Strong verbal, written, and interpersonal communications skills. ability to be adaptable, work independently, and as an integral member of a project team. Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Knowledge and/or working experience in motion controls and industrial controls. Knowledge of electrical code and industry standards for control systems, enclosures and rotating equipment. Knowledge and experience with designing and maintaining electronics at the board and component level. Additional desired skill sets include PCB design, ability to design build and program PLC systems and experience with astronomical Instrumentation.

Driving Required

This job requires a class "C" operator's driver's license. The applicant selected must provide a current
three year driving record from the current state of residence. If not currently a Texas resident, a Texas
driver's license must be obtained within 30 days of becoming a Texas resident.
Salary Range
$70,000 + depending on qualifications

Working Conditions

  • May work in all weather conditions and in extreme temperatures.
  • May work around chemical fumes.
  • May work around standard office conditions. Repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation.
  • May work around electrical and mechanical hazards.
  • Use of manual dexterity.
  • Climbing of stairs. Climbing of ladders. Lifting and moving.
  • Work at height, 100 feet, using man lift, rope, or ladder. 
  • May require working extended hours in inclement weather with hazardous equipment or materials.
  • Since we are a 24/7 operation, may be expected to work at all hours of the day or night,
    weekends or holidays (when needed and within limits) to serve the needs of the Observatory
    and specifically the HET.
  • Acts as senior member of the Observatory's Emergency Response Team that responds to fire, medical, hazardous material or other emergencies that threaten or interfere with the normal operations of the facility. Handles emergencies calmly and quickly.
  • Staff on-site in the residential community may serve as essential employee as determined by your manager.

Work Shift

  • Generally, M-F, 8am – 5pm
  • Work evening, weekend, and holiday hours as needed

Required Materials

  • Resume/CV
  • 3 work references with their contact information; at least one reference should be from a
    supervisor
  • Letter of interest

Additional information and to apply: https://utaustin.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UTstaff/job/MCDONALD-OBSERVATORY/HET-Electrical-Engineer_R_00007262 

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Senior Software Engineer - Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Job Description:

To program, install, maintain, and support the operation of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at the McDonald Observatory with emphasis on the authoring and maintenance of software for the control of the telescope sub-systems. These efforts will be part of HET's continuing telescope development projects.

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Job Details:

General Notes

This position is for a senior software engineer at the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which operates on a 24/7 schedule. This position is located at McDonald Observatory, 16 miles from Ft. Davis, Texas, (440 miles west of the UT/Austin campus). Occasionally expected to respond to failures and business needs relating to the telescope outside of normal work hours (nights, weekends, and holidays). Residence in the Observatory's residential community may be available and may be required. Position may be subject to “call-back” as an essential employee for emergency or critical response. Must be eligible to work in the US on a full-time basis for any employer without sponsorship.

Responsibilities

  • Serves as a software engineer in the development of new software products directly related to the operation and engineering of the telescope and instrument control systems at HET and includes the development of new test routines for existing robotic hardware. May work as the lead developer or as a member of a development team.
  • Maintains existing software already in production, providing for the rapid resolution of software bugs identified by operators and site staff, and continuously develops familiarity with over-all code base.
  • Participates as an active member of the project development teams; attends meetings and delivers status reports as necessary; and works directly with project scientists, engineers, and computing staff. Maintains consistent pre/post-incident communication with team members to ensure full problem resolution and project completion. Updates the contents of both internal and external documentation archives, notifies users/staff to software changes in production packages; and retains backup copies and version archives of software products.
  • Serves in a broad-spectrum backup role in the event that another team member is unavailable and includes the maintenance of an active interest in other systems related to those directly involved in assigned projects.
  • Other duties as assigned. An essential employee will act as a member of the McDonald Observatory's Emergency Response Team that responds to fire, medical, or other emergencies that threaten or interfere with normal operation.

Required Qualifications

Bachelor's degree. Demonstrated knowledge of software development (design, coding, debugging, integration, and testing) in a GNU/Linux environment with a focus on the software-interface portions of electromechanical device control systems. Ability to serve as a lead programmer on complex and challenging software development projects. Demonstrated ability to work in a team and take direction from the lead programmer. Strong verbal, written, and interpersonel communications skills. ability to be adaptable, work independently, and as an integral member of a project team. Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Recent experience in the authoring of control system software for computer-controlled mechanical systems, includes all aspects of the software product from the authoring of low-level hardware/software interface code (device drivers and digital IO) through end-user GUI development. Experience with formal software project management and version control systems such as Subversion or Git.Familiarity with mechanical systems and process control concepts, programmable logic devices (PLDs. CPLDs, FPGAs), stepper motors & encoders, computer hardware & communications protocols, distributed system design, or operating systems including Linux and Windows. Demonstrated ability to handle complex mathematical/statistical concepts and author software which applies these concepts. Experience in analysing and debugging existing C/C++, Python, Tcl/Tk, MySQL, PHP, or Perl code. Familiarity with the authoring and debugging of LabVIEW and/or Matlab/Simulink code. Ability to learn new skills and expand personal knowledge base through research and training.

Driving Required

This job requires a class "C" operator's driver's license. The applicant selected must provide a current three year driving record from the current state of residence. If not currently a Texas resident, a Texas driver's license must be obtained within 30 days of becoming a Texas resident.

Working Conditions

  • May work in all weather conditions and in extreme temperatures.
  • May work around chemical fumes.
  • May work around standard office conditions. Repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation.
  • May work around electrical and mechanical hazards.
  • Use of manual dexterity.
  • Climbing of stairs. Climbing of ladders. Lifting and moving.
  • Work at heights up to 100 feet, using a man lift or ladders
  • Use of PPE including hard hats, safety harnesses, eye and ear protection.
  • Since we are a 24/7 operation, may be expected to work at all hours of the day or night, weekends or holidays (when needed and within limits) to serve the needs of the Observatory and specifically the HET.
  • May require working extended hours in inclement weather with hazardous equipment or materials.
  • Acts as senior member of the Observatory's Emergency Response Team that responds to fire, medical, hazardous material or other emergencies that threaten or interfere with the normal operations of the facility. Handles emergencies calmly and quickly.
  • Staff on-site in the residential community may serve as essential employee as determined by manager.

Work Shift

  • Generally, M-F 8am – 5pm.  Flexibility is essential given that we operate 24/7/365.
  • Ability to travel the University of Texas at Austin, the Observatory's headquarters as required for reviews or work forums.
  • Required to respond to failures outside normal business hours.

Required Materials

  • Resume/CV
  • 3 work references with their contact information; at least one reference should be from a supervisor
  • Letter of interest

Additional information and to apply: https://utaustin.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UTstaff/job/MCDONALD-OBSERVATORY/HET-Senior-Software-Engineer_R_00008556 

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Mechanical Engineering Associate - Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Job Description:

To perform highly skilled, technical tasks in support of the engineering operations of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) equipment and telescope infrastructure. The telescope hardware and instrumentation covers a wide range of mechanical disciplines and includes both the latest technologies as well as older equipment. The goal is to maintain, design or improve functionality of mechanical subsystems (with dedicated focus on instrumentation) of the HET to achieve the scientific goals of McDonald Observatory.

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Job Details:

General Notes

This position is at McDonald Observatory, located 16 miles from Fort Davis, Texas (440 miles away from the UT Austin campus). Residence in the Observatory's residential community may be available and may be required. Position may be subject to “call-back” as an essential employee for emergency or critical response. Must be eligible to work in the US on a full-time basis for any employer without sponsorship.

Responsibilities

  • Support Visible Integral-field Replicable Unit Spectrograph (VIRUS) and Low-Resolution Spectrograph 2 (LRS2) instruments through installation, removal, improvements, and maintenance of spectrograph units in the array.
  • Perform periodic detailed inspections and preventive maintenance of equipment and systems and maintaining electronic records accordingly. 
  • Troubleshoot and follow detailed maintenance procedures and technical manual instructions for repairs.
  • Work with the HET mechanical engineer, engineering manager, and facility manager to determine priority and schedules.
  • Work with other HET teams to balance use of limited resources and to coordinate tasks. Assist personnel from Austin when necessary. Work with vendors and contractors.
  • Respond as necessary to night-time/weekend repair and maintenance calls from telescope operations staff.
  • Maintain shop for cleanliness and safety. Ensure machines are in acceptable working order. Maintain stock of fasteners, tooling, spares, etc. Identify, report, and help remove safety hazards.
  • Participate in the weekly HET staff meetings and submit daily activity reports. Periodically performs operations engineering duty.
  • Other duties as required to meet business needs.

Required Qualifications

High school graduation or GED. Four years of experience maintaining, repairing, and troubleshooting mechanical systems and/or scientific instruments. Hands on experience with machine tools and workshop equipment. Ability to work with precise measuring tools. Good mechanical aptitude. Ability to climb and work at heights up to 100ft in varied climate conditions with appropriate personal protection equipment. Experience with Microsoft Office products. Positive attitude and willingness to work hard. Self-motivated and able to work with minimal supervision. Strong communication skills. Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment and in a professional manner. Safety conscious. Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Experience working with optics and/or instrumentation. Experience working with precision mechanical systems requiring fine motor coordination and a light touch. Experience in a scientific research field with both mechanical and electrical systems. Technical training in mechanical and/or electrical disciplines. Experience in maintaining fine mechanical equipment. Experience working on chillers, HVAC, cooling systems, air compressors, and electromechanical systems. Machining skills. Electrical skills. Basic computer-aided design (CAD) skills. Open to innovative procedures. Demonstrated ability to develop and document procedures, update information to a database and create reports of equipment status.

Driving Required

This job requires a class "C" operator's driver's license. The applicant selected must provide a current three year driving record from the current state of residence. If not currently a Texas resident, a Texas driver's license must be obtained within 30 days of becoming a Texas resident.

Working Conditions

  • Practice safe working habits.
  • May work in all weather conditions.
  • May work in extreme temperatures.
  • May work around chemical fumes.
  • May work around standard office conditions.
  • May work around electrical and mechanical hazards.
  • Repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation. Use of manual dexterity.
  • Climbing of stairs. Climbing of ladders. Lifting and moving.
  • Work at the height up to 100 feet, using man lift or ladder.
  • Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety harnesses, hard hats, breathing respirators, and ear and eye protection.
  • Staff living on-site in the residential community may serve as essential employee as determined by facility manager.

Work Shift

  • Generally, M-F, 8am – 5pm.
  • The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) is a 24/7 operation and you may be expected to work at all hours of the day or night, weekends or holidays (when needed and within limits) to serve the scientific needs of the Observatory and specifically the HET.

Required Materials

  • Resume/CV
  • 3 work references with their contact information; at least one reference should be from a supervisor
  • Letter of interest

Additional information and to apply: https://utaustin.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UTstaff/job/MCDONALD-OBSERVATORY/HET-Mechanical-Engineering-Associate_R_00008603