Position Description

Research Technician
Job Category Fulltime Term
ExemptOvertimeEligible Overtime Eligible
Benefits Eligible Benefit Based
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Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Research Technician  to join its team. LIGO Laboratory is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to observing the newly discovered gravitational-wave universe. Jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the LIGO Laboratory operates world-leading observatories near Richland, WA and Baton Rouge, LA as well as R&D centers on the Caltech and MIT campuses. The LIGO Laboratory’s mission spans a broad and vibrant array of activities related to gravitational-wave physics and astronomy, including detector operations, R&D toward detector improvements, gravitational-wave astrophysics, observatory operations, and education and public outreach.

For more information, please visit the Laboratory website at http://www.ligo.caltech.edu.

This position is located in Pasadena, California.

Life at Caltech/LIGO
LIGO Caltech is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Caltech has an extraordinary science impact across many fields. Its small size creates a community where innovation and collaboration are the norm. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA, the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System. Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar and Keck Observatories.

Pasadena is a city known for its contributions to science and technology, rich history, cultural treasures, and scenic beauty. The year-round comfortable weather creates a desirable environment for life and ideas to thrive. See  Bill Nye’s take on our city .

People choose to work at LIGO for many reasons, often with fulfilling, long-term careers. LIGO is a family-friendly laboratory and strives to ensure everyone is able to achieve the work-life balance they desire. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan. LIGO Caltech staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club memberships (only Caltech site template).

Caltech HR diversity page:  https://hr.caltech.edu/careers/2commitment-diversity

Caltech and LIGO Laboratory’s goal is to build a world-class, diverse workforce and support an inclusive environment that encourages professional development and offers top-notch benefits. Our talented staff, who work at the Caltech campus, or one of our Observatories, come from a variety of fields. Positions include scientists, engineers, information technology staff, outreach professionals, managers, writers, business professionals, and administrative staff. We are deeply committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply for these opportunities. Our experience has demonstrated that the broader the styles, characteristics, backgrounds, and abilities of our staff—in other words, the more diverse our team is—the greater potential we have for success. Caltech is an equal opportunity employer.

LIGO Laboratory is committed to being a welcoming place for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or veteran status.

Job Duties

The Research Technician will primarily provide support to engineers and scientists working at our Caltech, Pasadena laboratories, where he/she would work under supervision, with others and, after appropriate training, on their own. The work will involve use of custom and standard lab electronics; custom and commercial opto-mechanical assemblies; vacuum systems; precision cleaning processes and cleanroom assembly.

On occasion it will be necessary for this individual to interface with a dispersed team across the LIGO Laboratory (4 locations). Travel to the observatories will be required on occasion, up to 10% of the time on average.

This is a 3 year term position.

Tasks that will be performed include:

  • Assemble, calibrate, test, operate and maintain laboratory electro-optical, electro-mechanical and opto-mechanical instrumentation and laboratory facilities to support ongoing research and development efforts.
  • Procure necessary optical, electronic and mechanical supplies, parts and materials required for the setup, operation and maintenance of these instruments and facilities. This will include liaising with (in-house and external) workshops and vendors.
  • Precision mechanical assembly of instruments both inside clean rooms and elsewhere, following detailed assembly documentation including engineering drawings.
  • Working individually and in a team environment.
  • Assist with the development of equipment test procedures, laboratory processes and part evaluation.
  • Support both observatories, either remotely or on-site. Participate in system upgrades, troubleshooting, and problem solving. Assist with failure analysis, root cause and corrective action processes as required.
  • Testing of digital, RF and analog electronics.
  • Keep assigned equipment including e.g. vacuum chambers, clean room(s), test equipment running, maintained and supplied.
  • Keep assigned laboratories stocked and organized.
  • Organizing and performing precision cleaning of machined parts, including baking of cleaned parts in either vacuum or air bake ovens.
  • Packaging clean parts for delivery on campus or preparing cleaned items for shipping to the observatories. This will require lifting and handling large equipment and parts (> 20 lbs.).

Basic Qualifications

  • Have completed an Associate Degree, or have equivalent experience in a technical field such as in Mechanics, Electronics, Optics or Physics.
  • Be proficient with computer applications (e.g. Word, Excel, Web applications).
  • Possess the ability to read and understand mechanical and electrical drawings, technical specifications and assembly instructions.
  • Be able to lift over 20 lbs.
  • Possess good verbal and written communication skills, a team attitude, and a high degree of professional discipline.

Preferred Qualifications

  • BS degree.
  • Three years of work experience in a research or laboratory setting. 
  • Experience in working with high vacuum systems is highly desired. 
  • Experience working in a large-scale R&D environment.
  • Operational experience with cleanroom environments.
  • Experience with basic machining methods, tools and shop skills.
  • Laser safety knowledge and experience

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter

COVID-19 Vaccine Required for All Employees

Caltech has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy effective October 15, 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees (with Institute-approved exemptions for religious or medical contraindications only). At present, an individual is deemed “fully vaccinated” when that person has received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson). As a condition of employment, employees must submit official COVID-19 vaccine documentation. More information may be found here.

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at employment@caltech.edu

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