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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. Click on the job title to see posting information.

HET Optomechanical Technician (McDonald Observatory, Ft. Davis, Texas)

Job Description:

Serves as the technical resource for the optical systems of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), including optical maintenance such as cleaning, metrology, coating removal, computer maintenance of the Segment Alignment Maintenance System (SAMS), and basic mechanical maintenance for the mirror supports.

General Notes

This position is located at McDonald Observatory, 16 miles from Ft. Davis, Texas (440 miles west of UT Austin campus). This position supports the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which is a 24/7 operation. Occasionally expected to respond to failures on the telescope outside normal work hours (nights, weekends, and holidays). Candidates selected for on-site interview will be required to demonstrate the ability to perform the optomechanical physical tasks including climbing ladders, stairs, and a lattice shell structure; moving mirror maintenance equipment; wearing fall protection equipment; and assembling/disassembling mechanical components.

Residence in the Observatory's residential community may not be available. If housed on-site, position may be subject to "call-back" as an essential employee for emergencies or critical response.

Responsibilities

  • Responsible for removing mirror segments and replacing with freshly coated segments (swapping). Sets up the mirror segments according to position angle in the array. Keeps accurate logs and communicates these segment swaps to the night staff for alignment. Troubleshoots mechanical issues with mirror segments.
  • Responsible for the Segment Alignment and Maintenance System (SAMS) of the HET primary mirror. This includes using fine motor skills to adjust sensors in the array and characterize SAMS performance. Keeps accurate SAMS logs of spare components and communicates necessary repairs to head of optical group. Performs basic troubleshooting of electronics issues within SAMS. Develops an understanding of underlying algorithms within SAMS that control the figure of the primary mirror.
  • Responsible for the adjustment of mirror actuators and troubleshooting both the actuators and actuator controllers. Keeps accurate segment control system (SCS) logs of spare components and communicates necessary repairs to the head of the optical group.
  • Helps maintain the database of spares and consumables and work with the head of the optical group to set an accurate budget. Provides feedback on procedures and systems to improve efficiency. 
  • Supports the re-coating process of the primary mirror. Evaluate the mirror coating before and after this process. Keeps accurate logs of the meteorology and communicates this information to the optical lead. 
  • Attends and constructively participates in the morning meetings and weekly HET staff meetings. Submits daily list of tasks performed to supervisor and to site manager. 
  • Other related functions as assigned.

Required Qualifications

Bachelor's degree in Science or Engineering. Demonstrated good manual dexterity with fine motor skills using hand tools. Strong communication skills. Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively in a team environment. Able to work independently and is self-motivated. In addition, candidates should have the work ethic and drive to maximize the scientific output of the telescope. Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Two years of experience working with optical systems and/or in a laboratory environment. Math skill set including linear algebra and calculus. Computer skill set including programming fundamentals, MATLAB, LabView. Ability and/or experience with directing and/or managing projects. Ability to do basic troubleshooting on both electrical and mechanical systems.

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. Employees who are required to have a CDL are subject to drug and alcohol testing (pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, random, return-to-duty, and follow-up drug and alcohol testing).

Salary Range

$44,000 + depending on qualifications

Working Conditions

  • McDonald Observatory is located at approx. 6900 ft. above sea level; environmental conditions can be unpredictable; temperatures can range from -10˚F and +85˚F; inclement winter weather can be expected which requires comfort driving in wintry conditions on mountain grades
  • Wearing appropriate safety equipment when working with chemicals or working at heights up to 90 feet in varied climate conditions
  • Personal protection equipment (furnished) required during mirror stripping and working with chemicals; may be required to undergo respirator fit testing
  • May work around chemical and chemical fumes, and cryogenic liquids
  • May work around electrical and mechanical hazards
  • May work around standard office conditions, computer, and repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation
  • Use of manual, mechanical hand-tool, and fine-motor dexterity
  • Working in/from man-lifts and scissor lifts
  • Working with heavy machinery
  • Climbing of ladders up to 90 feet, free climbing on/around heavy equipment
  • Ability to move around in a tight mirror truss – a lattice shell structure
  • Pushing heavy loads including a mirror cart requiring force
  • Lifting and moving up to 50 pounds
  • Climbing up to three flights of stairs at a time

Working Shift

  • Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which is a 24/7 operation
  • Occasionally expected to respond to failures on the telescope outside normal work hours (nights, weekends, and holidays)

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/en-US/UTstaff/details/HET-Optomechanical-Technician_R_00015499?q=hobby+eberly+telescope

 

Optomechanical Technician, Observing Support (McDonald Observatory, Ft. Davis, Texas)

Job Description

The optomechanical technician performs entry-level optomechanical engineering assignments for observing support (OS). Assist with hands-on mechanical and technical support for McDonald Observatory and tenant telescope facilities including instrument changes, instrument set-up, cleaning optical surfaces, and re-coating of astronomical optics.

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 is preferred. Position is considered an essential employee for emergency or critical response.

Responsibilities

  • Facility Support: Assists in the maintenance and repair for the 107-inch Harlan J. Smith Telescope, the historic 82-inch Otto Struve Telescope, and the 30- and 36-inch facilities under the guidance of the optomechanical group lead and optomechanical engineering associate. May assist with upgrades and modifications as directed.
  • Instrument Support: Assists in the maintenance and repair for McDonald Observatory astronomical instruments under the guidance of the optomechanical group lead and optomechanical engineering associate.
  • Tenant Support: Assists with maintenance and repair on the tenant facilities that are supported by the McDonald Observatory team at the direction of the observing support manager and the optomechanical group lead.
  • Operations Support: Assists in all general operational support tasks including instrument changes, optical cleaning, optical re-coating, and telescope assembly. Provides technical support for observing in the form of reviewing night logs, re-filling cryogens, changing filters, etc.
  • Performs other duties as required.

Required Qualifications

Bachelor's degree. Experience with basic engineering and/or scientific equipment ordinarily used in college laboratory work. Demonstrated skills in maintenance and repair work. Ability to organize and prioritize work, to meet deadlines and expectations. Self-driven individual with keen technical ability, systematic and detail-oriented approach. Positive attitude, strong work ethic, and strong team player. Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills. Proficient computer skills. Desire and ability to learn new skills or methods.

An equivalent combination of relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, Optical Engineering, or a related field. Experience with precision equipment used in research programs. Familiarity with optical coating processes. Familiarity with astronomical instrumentation.

Driving Required

This job requires a class "C" operator's driver's license to perform job responsibilities. 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

$38,000 + depending on qualifications

Working Conditions

  • McDonald Observatory is located at approx. 6900 ft. above sea level. 
  • Environmental conditions can be unpredictable; temperatures can range from -10˚F and +85˚F. 
  • Inclement winter weather can be expected which requires comfort driving in wintery conditions on mountain grades
  • Climbing ladders, free climbing on/around heavy equipment
  • Working in/from man-lifts and scissor lifts
  • Use of approved safety equipment is required; May be required to undergo respirator fit testing
  • Heavy lifting (must be able to lift 35 lbs.)
  • Working with hazardous chemicals and cryogenic liquids
  • Working with heavy machinery
  • Working at a computer

Work Shift

  • 40 hours; typically, 8am-5pm (1 hour for lunch) 5 days per week.
  • Frequent weekend, holiday and on-call hours are expected
  • Occasional night duty required
  • Occasional travel

Required Materials

 

HET Mechanical Engineer (McDonald Observatory, Ft. Davis, Texas)

Job Details:

General Notes

This position is located at McDonald Observatory, 16 miles from Fort Davis, Texas (440 miles away from the UT Austin campus). The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) operates on a 24/7/365 day schedule. This position will be expected to respond to failures and business needs, relating to the telescope or observatory, outside of normal work hours (nights, weekends, and holidays). Candidates selected for on-site interview will be required to demonstrate the ability to perform the optomechanical physical tasks including climbing ladders, stairs, and a lattice shell structure; moving mirror maintenance equipment; wearing fall protection equipment; and assembling/disassembling mechanical components.

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.

Responsibilities

  • Leads or participates in projects to improve the performance of the telescope from a mechanical and/or optomechanical perspective. Such projects may include both mechanical and optical design from first principles to an operational instrument, tool, or fixture.
  • Maintains all optics and optomechanical subsystems on the HET with emphasis on the reflectivity of the HET primary mirror segments, the overall optical throughput of the telescope, the performance of the primary mirror Segment Control System (SCS), the primary mirror Segment Alignment Measurement System (SAMS) and the Center of Curvature Alignment System (CCAS).
  • Works with the optics team to operate and maintain the 15kW, 10,000V, E-Beam mirror coating system to coat 1-meter hexagonal mirror segments with aluminum. This includes all vacuum equipment, ion-assisted vapor deposition system, and optical coating metrology instrumentation. Operates and maintains the class 10,000 cleanroom housing the mirror coating facility and the Strip and Wash (SAW) room where the 1-meter segments have old coating removed and are prepped for the new coating.
  • Investigates and solves telescope failures or performance deficiencies related to optomechanical and electro-optical subsystems on the telescope.
  • Works closely within the HET Optics Team and with Operations Management to provide leadership as needed in defining and scheduling all optics team activities. Participates in weekly meetings or work sessions.
  • Other related functions as assigned.

Required Qualifications

  • Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering with six years work experience in related field or Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering with eight years experience in a related field.
  • Understanding of system-level interactions between mechanics, optics, electronics, and software to enable effective problem solving and troubleshooting at the system level down to the individual part level.
  • Experience with mechanical design using Solid Works, Inventor, or similar solid modeling CAD packages.
  • Basic fabrication skills using tools for material cutting, drilling, milling, and turning.
  • Self-driven individual with keen technical ability, systematic approach, detailed-oriented, excellent theoretical and hands-on problem-solving skills, positive attitude, strong work ethic, and strong team player.
  • Demonstrated problem-solving ability, including designing experiments and carrying out tests to collect and analyze data.
  • Has excellent technical writing and documentation skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills and the ability to interface with all levels of staff and leadership.
  • Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with optical coating processes, more specifically ion-assisted electron beam vapor deposition, and the process control requirements that lead to optimal coating performance in terms of reflectivity and durability.
  • Experience with vacuum system operation and maintenance for optical coating processes.
  • Proficient in mechanical and optomechanical design using Solid Works and/or Inventor.
  • Basic optical design experience and some exposure to optical design/simulation tools such as ZEMAX and/or optical system performance measurement.
  • Hands-on experience in optical component mounting, interfaces, and adhesive bonding.
  • Experience with cleaning and handling optical components.
  • Experience in statistical process control (SPC)
  • Practical programming experience (Python, MATLAB, or equivalent).

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

$80,000 + depending on qualifications

Working Conditions

  • McDonald Observatory is located at approx. 6900 ft. above sea level; environmental conditions can be unpredictable; temperatures can range from -10˚F and +85˚F; inclement winter weather can be expected which requires comfort driving in wintry conditions on mountain grades
  • May work in all weather conditions and extreme temperatures
  • Wearing appropriate safety equipment when working with chemicals or working at heights up to 90 ft. in varied climate conditions
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety harnesses, hard hats, breathing respirators, and ear and eye protection during mirror stripping and working with chemicals; may be required to undergo respirator fit testing
  • May work around chemical and chemical fumes, and cryogenic liquids
  • May work around electrical and mechanical hazards
  • Use of manual, mechanical hand-tool, and fine-motor dexterity
  • Climbing and working at heights up to 100 feet, using man lift or ladder; free climbing on/around heavy equipment
  • Climbing up to three flights of stairs at a time
  • Lifting and moving up to 66 pounds
  • Ability to move around in a mirror truss, a steel lattice shell structure
  • Pushing heavy loads including a mirror cart requiring force
  • May work around standard office conditions, computer, and repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation
  • May require working extended hours in inclement weather with hazardous equipment or materials
  • Ability to travel to Observatory headquarters at The University of Texas at Austin and to meet vendors as required

Work Shift

  • Generally, M-F, 8 am – 5 pm
  • The Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) is a 24/7/365 operation and this position 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
  • Staff living on-site in the residential community are considered as essential employees, as determined by the HET Facility Manager and the Observatory Superintendent, and will be required to serve in the Observatory Emergency Response team
  • Occasional travel

Required Materials

 

Communications Manager - McDonald Observatory

General Notes

McDonald Observatory seeks a Communications Manager focused on increasing visibility and awareness of UT Austin research capabilities, scientific achievements, educational excellence, and public outreach activities. This is an exciting role with an opportunity to work in a unique college research unit and communicate science to a broad audience of enthusiasts. The Communications Manager will work with the Assistant Director for Education and Outreach to support McDonald Observatory digital, print, and media needs. Finalists for this position will be asked to provide writing samples, marketing materials, or publications at time of interview. Finalists may also be asked to demonstrate editing skills.

Purpose

This position is responsible for the advancing the communication efforts of the McDonald Observatory and the Department of Astronomy research operations, scientific achievements, educational excellence, and public outreach activities through compelling written content shared in multiple digital and print platforms. Organizes the development and execution of posts, stories, and digital platforms, including press releases, media requests, and filming projects from initial conception to completion.

Responsibilities

  • Writes and distributes press releases for McDonald Observatory and the Department of Astronomy. Collaborates with institutional and research partners on joint news releases. Collaborates with the college and university communications contacts to promote and distribute press releases and news stories to a wide audience.
  • Provides content and editing for McDonald Observatory digital platforms including McDonald Observatory and StarDate websites, SkyTips newsletter, and print publications including brochures, reports, and StarDate Magazine. Writes and distributes content for college and university publications as needed.
  • Provides leadership to McDonald Observatory communication team. Collaborates with StarDate creative director to develop content in line with McDonald Observatory outreach goals. Collaborates with external partners to promote McDonald Observatory and the Department of Astronomy communication strategies across multiple platforms.
  • Handles all media requests for McDonald Observatory and the Department of Astronomy. Provides information, images, and video; schedules interviews; arranges visits to both the Austin campus and McDonald Observatory for news crews and documentary film crews. Liaises with communications personnel in the College of Natural Science and the President's Office. Promotes completed projects to the McDonald audience where appropriate.

Required Qualifications

Bachelor's degree and five years of work experience in online marketing and communications, journalism, public relations, or related fields including content creation and content strategy experience; defining and delivering features that meets the needs of users; and/or professional journalistic writing experience for digital channels. Familiarity with Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok), Hootsuite, Constant Contact, Word Press. Demonstrated experience with project management, collaboration, and leadership skills. Able to multitask and prioritize assignments. Flexibility and ability to work in a fully team-centered environment. Good organizational skills and attention to detail. Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Strong initiative and motivation. Ability to follow UT guidelines for publishing specific types of communications. Professional demeanor. Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Eight or more years of experience in digital marketing and communications. Experience developing and implementing a communication strategy in a higher education research department, academic department, nonprofit organization, or another organization conducting research. Knowledge of McDonald Observatory, astronomy, or observatory experience. Experience working for a science publication and/or translating technical and science concepts to a general audience. Writing/editing experience (articles, policies, informational e-mails or similar documentation). Demonstrated photography or graphic design expertise. Proficiency in Spanish.

Salary Range

$61,032+ annually depending on qualifications and experience

Working Conditions

  • May work around standard office conditions
  • Repetitive use of a keyboard at a work station
  • Use of manual dexterity
  • May work in all weather conditions

Work Shift

  • M-F workweek, with occasional weekend hours expected in response to news releases and events
  • Occasional travel may be required

Required Materials

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

 Additional information and to apply: https://utaustin.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UTstaff/job/UT-MAIN-CAMPUS/Communications-Manager_R_00021995