W. M. Keck Observatory
  • 03-Mar-2017 to 30-May-2017 (HST)
  • Hourly


Under the general supervision of the Instruments and Optics Support Supervisor, and working in close collaboration with instrument engineers and support astronomers, this position is responsible for technical support of facility astronomical instrumentation on the summit. This position includes an assignment of primary responsibility to all facility Instruments. In addition this position may include working in the general areas of adaptive optics, laser, telescope, and other optical systems as needed.

Essential Functions

  • Participate in the technical support of facility instrument electronic, mechanical, and optical systems. This includes but is not limited to activities such as fabrication, installation, optical alignment, calibration, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair, so that they are in good operating condition, available for observing, and safe. The Instrument Technician will primarily be assigned (as required) to some or all of the following:
    • Facility Instruments:
      • DEIMOS
      • ESI
      • HIRES
      • LRIS
      • MOSFIRE
      • NIRC2
      • NIRSPEC
      • OSIRIS
      • KCWI
      • Any future instruments
    • Engineering Instruments
      • Phasing Cameras
      • Star-Stacking Cameras
    • Instrument support and maintenance equipment
      • CCR systems
      • Liquid Cryogens
      • Cryogen lines
      • Vacuum pump stations
      • Leak checker
      • Slit mask mill
    • Optical Systems/Instrumentation
      • Adaptive Optics
      • Solid state laser
  • Perform and/or oversee troubleshooting and maintenance necessary to keep observing instruments operating at their peak efficiency on a daily basis.
  • Perform and/or oversee modifications to improve performance or operating efficiency of observatory instruments.
  • Fabricate and modify electronic/electrical assemblies as required, using industry standard practices, according to schematic drawings or other documentation generated by engineers to make assembles available when needed.
  • Perform shop maintenance, which includes repair, maintenance and calibration of test equipment, procurement of supplies and spare parts, maintenance of catalog and instruction manual files, etc., to assure parts, supplies, and literature are available when needed.  Perform design changes to equipment according to schematic drawings or other documentation generated by engineers.
  • Update documentation of all types: schematic diagrams, wiring diagrams, maintenance logs, instruction manuals, etc., to keep documentation ready for use as needed.
  • Participate, as required, in nightly laser guide star operations, including but not limited to:
    • Preparing the laser(s) for nightly observing
    • Monitoring and trouble-shooting laser performance through afternoons and into commencement of observing
    • Providing on-call support for laser during nightly operations.
  • Participate, as backup, in daily telescope operations support activities on the summit including, but not limited to:
    • Telescope configuration
    • Instrument configuration
    • Dome configuration
    • Slit mask milling
    • Cryogenic servicing
    • Telescope and instrument checkout and startup
    • Other duties consistent with preparing the facility for that night's observing.
  • Keep supervisor informed of progress, problems and concerns related to the observatory; provide status reports as required and accept priorities as assigned.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Under the guidance of the supervisor and the Summit Lead, collaborate with other summit technicians to create an efficient, effective and unified work environment based on the principles of teamwork and mutual responsibility for shared objectives.
  • Drive WMKO vehicles as necessary to transport employees to and from the summit in a safe manner.
  • Remove snow and ice as required to make the facility accessible, operational and safe.
  • Provide deputy support for the Instruments and Optics Support Supervisor when required and perform any other duties consistent with the scope of the position as specified by supervisor.
  • Perform other duties consistent with the scope of this position. 

Required Qualifications

  • AS Degree in Electronics or Engineering degree or equivalent.
  • Three (3) years' experience in highly-technical or science operations environment
  • Experience and ability working around complex and sensitive optics and instrumentation
  • Experience in at least one of the following three areas:
    • Operation and maintenance of vacuum Dewar's.
    • Cryogen systems (liquid and/or closed cycle).
    • Handling, alignment, and maintenance of optics

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience working at an astronomical observatory.
  • Instrumentation experience at an astronomical observatory.
  • Electronics design experience.
  • Experience using Unix.
  • Experience working with lasers.


  • Microsoft Office Proficiency.
  • Knowledge of modern electronics technology including analog and digital integrated circuits, computer electronics, and computer communications.
  • Knowledge of the methods, materials, and tools used in the fabrication, construction, maintenance, and repair of electrical and electronic equipment. 
  • Knowledge of the operation and uses of electronic test equipment, including oscilloscopes, analyzers, pulse and function generators, power supplies, etc.
  • Ability to read complex electronic schematics and analyze and design general purpose analog and digital circuits.
  • Motivated, self-starter who can manage multiple projects and priorities within a fast paced environment.  

Certificates and Licenses

  • Valid driver's license and clean abstract.


To perform the job successfully, an individual should demonstrate the following competencies:

  • Communication: Ability to communicate effectively and concisely at all levels.
  • Interpersonal skills: Ability to build collaborative, effective relationships with staff.
  • Professionalism: Approaches others in a tactful manner; reacts well under pressure; treats others with respect and consideration; accepts responsibility for own actions; follows through on commitments.

Other Requirements

  • Willingness to commit to WMKO core values: Safety, Integrity, Respect, Discovery and Service.
  • Willingness to commit to WMKO cultural values: Education/Learning, Communication, Teamwork, Rewarding Work Environment, Excellence, Community Involvement.
  • Willingness and ability to occasionally work nights and weekends.

Physical Demands

These physical demands are representative of the physical requirements necessary for an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the job. This is not a complete list of the physical demands that may be required.

  • Stand: Remain on one's feet in an upright position at a workstation without moving about
  • Walk: Move about on foot.
  • Lift: Raise or lower an object from one level to another (includes upward pulling) up to 75 pounds.
  • Vision: Color vision - Ability to identify and distinguish colors.
  • Hearing: Perceive the nature of sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction, and having the ability to receive detailed information though oral communication, and making fine discriminations in sound.
  • Carry: Transport an object, usually holding it in the hands or arms, or on the shoulder.
  • Push: Exert force upon an object so that the object moves away from the force (Includes slapping, striking, kicking and treadle actions).
  • Pull: Exerting force upon an object so that the object moves toward the force (includes jerking).
  • Climb: Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles using feet and legs or hands and arms. Body agility is emphasized.
  • Balance: Maintaining body equilibrium to prevent falling when walking, standing, crouching, or running on narrow, slippery, or erratically moving surfaces.
  • Stoop: Bending body downward and forward by bending spine at the waist, requiring full use of the lower extremities and back muscles.
  • Handle: Seize, hold, grasp, turn, or otherwise work with hand or hands. Fingers are involved only to the extent that they are an extension of the hand, such as to turn a switch or shift automobile gears.
  • Ability to pass a high altitude physical.
  • Ability to work at the Observatory (14,000 feet elevation).

Environmental Conditions

These environmental conditions are representative of what an employee will encounter while performing the essential functions of the job. This is not a complete list of the environmental conditions that may be encountered.

  • Exposure to weather: Subject to extreme cold.  Temperatures can be below 32 degrees for periods of more than one hour.  Consideration should be given to the effect of other environmental conditions such as wind and humidity.
  • Subject to Noise:  There is sufficient noise to cause the worker to shout in order to be heard above the ambient noise level.
  • Subject to Hazards: Moving mechanical parts.
  • Subject to constrained spaces: Required to function in narrow aisles or passageways.

The above information on this job description has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by an employee in this classification.  It is not to be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory, or all duties, responsibilities, and qualifications of employees assigned to this job.  Management has the right to add to, revise, or delete information in this description.  Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of this position.



W. M. Keck Observatory
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