W. M. Keck Observatory
  • 20-Jun-2017 to 19-Oct-2017 (HST)


The Electronics Engineer is responsible for the operation, improvement, maintenance and documentation of electronic systems at the observatory, including motion control, electronic and opto-mechanical control systems for two 10-meter telescopes. The Electronics Engineer participates in the planning, installation and transition onto operations of newly developed systems. 

Essential Functions

  • Direct repair efforts on failed or malfunctioning systems. Troubleshoot to determine root cause of fault and provide guidance to mitigate future faults.
  • Monitor control system performance using test equipment and software tools to maintain peak performance and efficiency. Investigate and correct chronic performance and reliability problems. Specify preventative maintenance and troubleshooting procedures to ensure proper telescope system funtion. Use a Maintenance Management System (MMS) to institute routine mainenance tasks to enhance systems reliability.
  • Design and implement system upgrades and improvements including conceptual and detailed design, fabrication, integration, test and documentation. Perform project and vendor management.
  • Prepare detailed designs including drawings from conceptual designs or problem descriptions and prepare specifications for procurement.
  • Provide detailed documentation on new designs and modifications, including Engineering Change Notices, to assure documentation is available when needed for troubleshooting, consultation or training.
  • Available to work flexible hours at headquarters and summit, including weekends and occasional evenings.
  • Participate in rotating on-call engineering support on nights, weekends and holidays.
  • Provide technical guidance and assistance to technicians on fabrication, troubleshooting and documentation.
  • Train operators and technicians in the proper use of equipment or systems and to be aware of limitations and implications of inter-system performance to assure systems and equipment perform to expectations.
  • Provide status reports as required to keep Electronic Systems Lead Engineer informed of progress, problems, and concerns.
  • Ability to work effectively at the summit facility to maintain and improve summit systems.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Drive WMKO vehicles as necessary to transport employees and items to and from the summit in a safe manner.
  • Perform other duties consistent with the scope of the position.

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.
  • Five (5) years' related experience.
  • Fundamental understanding of servo motion control systems.
  • Hands on experience troubleshooting electronic systems down to board level.
  • Experience testing, maintaining and optimizing electronic control systems.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Previous experience in observatory environment.
  • Experience in areas of control and automation including: programmable motion controllers, PLCs, Linux, VME Real Time environment, and data acquisition and analysis.
  • Familiarity with standard connectors such as MIL-SPEC (MS), D-subminiature, Molex, or equivalents.
  • Familiarity with visible and infrared camera based instrumentation.
  • Board level design experience: FPGAs, EPLDs, ADCs, DACs, microprocessors, communication interfaces.
  • Multidisciplinary experience: opto-mechanics, piezo motion, lasers, cryogens, and vacuum systems.


  • Sound engineering skill set, including troubleshooting, design and maintenance of systems.
  • Demonstrated ability to plan, direct and implement projects as assigned.
  • Motivated, self-starter who can implement multiple projects and priorities within a fast paced environment. 
  • Ability to plan and execute engineering projects. 
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Proficiency with Schematic, PCB layout, CAD, and office software tools.
  • Good skills in the areas of written and oral English communication, problem solving, interpersonal working relationships, planning and organizing, quality of work, adaptability and dependability.

Certificates and Licenses

  • Valid driver's license and clean driver's 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.

Competencies required include: skills,   Ideal candidate will have excellent hands-on technical skills and be a motivated self-starter who can manage multiple projects, tasks and priorities.

Our Values

  • Core values: Stewardship and Service
  • Permission to play: Safety, Integrity, Respect for Others
  • Aspirational Values: Get stuff done, Care for others, Optimism, Collaboration, Drive to achieve

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.

  • Sit: Remaining in the seated position continuously.
  • Use hands/fingers: Picking, pinching, or otherwise working primarily with fingers rather than with the whole hand or arm as in handling.
  • Talk/hear: Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word to impart oral information to clients or to the public and to convey detailed spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.
  • Stand: Remaining on one's feet in an upright position at a workstation without moving about
  • Walk: Moving about on foot.
  • Lift, carry weight: Raising or lowering an object from one level to another (includes upward pulling) up to 75 pounds.
  • Vision: Color vision - Ability to identify and distinguish colors.
  • Hear: Perceiving the nature of sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction, and having the ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and making fine discriminations in sound.
  • Carry: Transporting an object, usually holding it in the hands or arms, or on the shoulder.
  • Push: Exerting 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: Seizing, holding, grasping, turning, or otherwise working 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 elevations).

Work Environment

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 and requiring the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Subject to Hazards: Exposure to moving mechanical parts, energized electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic circuits and requiring the use of personal protective equipment.
  • 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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