Position Description

Systems Engineer
Job Category Fulltime Regular
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.

NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at IPAC operates two major archives that offer unique data sets and services for astronomers. The Keck Observatory Archive (KOA) is a repository of all data acquired at the twin 10-m telescopes of the Keck Observatory, Hawaii since it entered operations in 1994. The Keck Observatory is one of the most productive observatories in the world and astronomers have used it to observe the most distant galaxies and discover the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The NASA Exoplanet Archive is most comprehensive archive of exoplanets and their host stars available in the world; the Exoplanet Archive includes parameters, data sets, and tools to work with these data and is the official archive for the CoRoT, Kepler, K2, and TESS exoplanet discoveries. As we move into a new era of data-driven astronomy, both archives are positioned at the forefront of a global research enterprise that will promote collaborative analysis of large and complex data sets and discoveries at the cutting edge of astrophysics, including exoplanets, stellar astrophysics, and cosmology.

Job Summary

NExScI has an opening for a systems engineer to join the team of scientists and system engineers who are building and operating these archives as they move forward in this enterprise. You will work in a highly collaborative environment and will have broad areas of responsibility. These areas include:

  • Optimizing data ingestion and data access processes.
  • Developing access solutions for special end-user requests.
  • Deriving and tracking metrics describing archive contents and performance. 
  • Administering GitHub code repositories. 
  • Managing new software releases. 

Basic Qualifications

If you have the following in your background, then we want to hear about your interest in joining our team:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Astronomy, Physics, Math or a related technical field.
  • One year of experience with Python programming.
  • One year of experience scripting in a Linux environment.
  • Working knowledge of SQL.
  • Ability to work in a highly collaborative environment.

Preferred Qualifications

Beyond these basic qualifications, there are a set of skills and experiences which will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of a NExScI Archive Systems Engineer. The following might give you a head-start here, but even if these do not describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you:

  • Two years experience supporting an active operations environment.
  • Two years experience of software development in Python.
  • Experience using GitHub as a software repository.
  • Knowledge of the Astropy environment.
  • Knowledge of containerization and modern dev-ops processes.

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter

Life at IPAC/Caltech

IPAC is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California by the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Caltech is small, but has an extraordinary science impact, with 39 Nobel Prizes awarded to faculty and alumni. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory 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, and LIGO, which in 2016 observed gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time.

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

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. 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. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

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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