W. M. Keck Observatory


This position is responsible for a variety of duties related to developing, deploying, supporting and optimizing software for operational solutions used at the observatory and integration of partner developed science instruments.

Essential Functions

  • Design, code, integrate, and test software to implement new observatory systems and to improve and optimize existing systems.
  • Provide technical support during and post commissioning.
  • Provide software documentation and assist in developing end-user documentation for operations handover to assure updated and accurate reference documentation is available when needed.
  • Respond to questions and perform troubleshooting to provide end-user support for observatory software, at times out of regular hours.
  • Ensure the quality and reliability of the software base through the application of standardized change control, build, and release strategies.
  • Provide highly effective collaboration across disciplines and departments. This includes working with scientists at the observatory and external collaborators at other institutions.
  • Provides support for development and maintenance of Keck Observatory Archive (KOA).

Additional Responsibilities

  • Work with end users to improve operational applications.
  • Perform analysis to support operations.
  • Perform other duties consistent with the scope of the position.

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Science or equivalent in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Mathematics or other relevant engineering or science field.
  • Three (3) years' experience in development and maintenance of software for operational tools and data analysis for engineering or scientific applications.
  • Experience developing solutions with data manipulation software including use of at least one of IDL, Python or MATLAB.
  • Experience developing web enabled database applications.
  • Experience in Unix shell scripting.

 Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with image analysis software.
  • Experience at an astronomical observatory or high energy physics experiment facility.
  • Skilled in handling astronomical data (FITS files).
  • Strong applied math and statistical skills.


  • Broad knowledge of modern software engineering practices especially in areas of re-use and testability.
  • Competency in Unix/Linux, C, and at least one of the following domain specific languages: MATLAB, IDL, LabVIEW.
  • Good knowledge of database design.
  • Strong competency using O-O paradigm and design patterns in delivering software based solutions in Java or C++.
  • Practical experience of change control, build and release management processes.
  • User Interface development with Java, Qt, Python, Tcl/Tk or other toolkits.

Certificates and Licenses

  • Certificates or licenses are not required.


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.
  • Ability to work in a constant state of alertness and in a safe manner.

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: Remain in the seated position.
  • Use Hands: Use hands and fingers
  • Talk: Express or exchange 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.
  • Lift: Raise or lower an object from one level to another (includes upward pulling) up to 25 lbs.

Work Environment

This job operates in a professional office environment. This role may use standard office equipment such as computers, telephones, photocopiers, filing cabinets and fax machines.

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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