W. M. Keck Observatory

Keck Observatory offers a robust rewards package which includes: a competitive salary; a broad benefits bundle including a 403(b) plan; a highly regarded tuition assistance program for dependent children (K-12 grade); and an unmatched focus of excellence.

This position provides mechanical engineering and project management leadership to develop new observatory capabilities and upgrade existing observatory systems through expertise in design, analysis, planning, construction, and testing of a broad array of mechanical and opto-mechanical systems ranging from precision mechanisms and optics, to large structures and servo actuation systems.

  • Provide mechanical engineering and systems engineering expertise to support the development of new observatory capabilities and upgrades to existing observatory systems.
  • Design and analysis of mechanical and opto-mechanical systems and components using 3D computer aided design (CAD) and finite element analysis (FEA).
  • Provide technical and project management leadership of internal and external multi-disciplined teams performing design, fabrication, installation, troubleshooting, testing, and repair of observatory and instrumentation systems.
  • Plan and lead the interfacing of new mechanical systems and instrumentation to existing observatory systems including installation and test at the summit facility.
  • Provide technical leadership and mentoring to engineering and design support staff.
  • Encourage and facilitate the development of staff technical skills.
  • Follow, maintain, and improve observatory standards and processes for mechanical and opto-mechanical systems.
  • Prepare and review documentation and drawings for new systems and modifications to existing systems.
  • Maintain commitment to a high standard of safety; comply with all safety laws and WMKO safety policies/rules.
  • Drive WMKO vehicles as necessary to transport employees and materials to and from the summit in a safe manner.
Additional Responsibilities
  • Champion engineering rigor and processes, including design best practices, design lifecycles, technical design reviews, configuration management, and technical data release processes.
  • Perform other duties consistent with the scope of the position.
Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.
  • Ten years of mechanical systems hardware development experience.
  • Proven and documented track record of precision mechanical systems designs that are in actual use or production.
  • Proven and documented track record in managing all aspects of medium to large scale projects, including planning and estimating, executing and reporting, subcontract management, delivery and integration, and providing leadership to multi-disciplined project teams.
  • Built a machine that moves and requires power.
  • Ability to lead multi-disciplined teams as well as being a strong individual technical contributor.
  • Ability to perform, direct, and critique Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
  • Experience leading field installation and testing of mechanical systems.
  • Expert level understanding of GD&T.
  • Strong CAD data configuration management, large assembly management, and Dwg Release Cycle experience.
 Preferred Qualifications:
  • Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Experience with opto-mechanical design including kinematic mounting and alignment of optical systems, stress and thermal mitigation, precision tolerancing, and optical error analysis.
  • Experience in handling of both medium and large optics (meter-class).
  • Experience with testing for environmental conditions, vibration, shock, and thermal.
  • Experience with the design and implementation of Hydraulic and Pneumatic systems.
  • Experience with the design and implementation of closed-loop motion control systems.
  • Experience with the development of cryogenic instrumentation.
  • Experience with clean room procedures.
  • Understanding of optical, electronic and software systems.
  • Working knowledge of these specific computer software packages:SolidWorks CAD
    • Ansys finite element analysis software
    • Microsoft Project project management and planning software
    • MathCAD engineering analysis software
    • ZEMAX optical design software
  • Thorough understanding of mechanical design and analysis. Expertise in using both hand methods and computer aided modeling for structural and dynamic design, evaluation of performance over a range of environmental and load conditions, evaluation of mechanical strength and stability, and evaluation of the effects of vibration, shock, and thermal.
  • Systems approach to mechanical engineering with experience in assessing requirements rationale, developing error budgets, sensitivity analysis, performing trade studies, and evaluating interconnectivity of mechanical, optical, software, control electronics, operations, manufacturability, and safety.
  • Comprehensive command of requirements management from derivation to design and verification.
  • Ability to organize and lead project teams, and to drive projects to completion in a schedule-driven environment.
  • Experience with 3D computer aided design, finite element analysis, design for manufacturability and maintainability, product life cycle management, and reliability engineering.
  • Experience with modern manufacturing techniques including multi-axis machining, wire EDM, rapid prototyping, and composite materials.
  • Experience using a standard project management software tool such as MS Project.
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 pass a high altitude physical.
  • Ability to work at the Observatory (14,000 feet elevation).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Vision: Color vision - Ability to identify and distinguish colors.
  • Hear: Perceive 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.
  • 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 50 lbs.
  • 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: Exert force upon an object so that the object moves toward the force (includes jerking).
  • Climb: Ascend or descend ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles using feet and legs or hands and arms. Body agility is emphasized.
  • Balance: Maintain body equilibrium to prevent falling when walking, standing, crouching, or running on narrow, slippery, or erratically moving surfaces.
  • Stoop: Bend 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 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.
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.

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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