Position Description

Applications Developer
Job Category Fulltime Regular
ExemptOvertimeEligible Exempt
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

IPAC at the California Institute of Technology is accepting applications for a scientific software developer who will participate in the development of the NEO Surveyor Investigation System Software Suite (NISS) and the pyPLanetary library. NEO Surveyor is a NASA Planetary Defense mission that will launch in early 2026 and will be optimized to detect, track, and characterize Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and more distant small bodies in the Solar System. The NEO Surveyor observatory consists of a passively-cooled 50 cm telescope located at Sun-Earth L1 equipped with a wide-field camera that will image the sky simultaneously in two mid-infrared bands. The NISS simulates NEO Surveyor observations and discoveries of Near Earth Objects to help assess the mission’s performance with respect to high level requirements.

IPAC is an NEO Surveyor partner institution and will develop and operate the Survey Data System (NSDS) that processes, archives, and distributes mission data products. IPAC also works with the project to develop and test the NISS and provides the administrative home for the NISS software developer.

Job Duties

As the NISS software developer, you will be based at IPAC as part of the IPAC NEO Surveyor team and will report to the NSDS Task Lead. Your technical work will involve close collaboration with the NISS team that is distributed at several different institutions. Your job duties will include:

  • Working with the NISS team to support, enhance, and test the existing python pyPlanetary library and NISS software
  • Developing and integrating new blocks of code into the existing pyPlanetary and NISS software to enhance functionality
  • Creating software test and verification procedures for the NISS software, including unit test coverage of code base
  • Evaluating the current code base to look for performance improvements with a focus on the parallelization and interaction with multi-processor systems
  • Assisting with implementation of SQLite databases for NISS inputs and outputs
  • Maintaining and supporting the execution of code on supercomputing systems used by the NISS Team, including cluster submission scripts
  • Generating and maintaining design, test, verification, and user guide documentation
  • Providing regular written progress reports to the IPAC NSDS and NISS leads, as requested

Basic Qualifications

  • BA/BS in Computer Science, Engineering, or Physical Science Discipline
  • A strong background in python software development with at least 3 years of relevant work experience developing and testing code in Python, XML, JSON, and SQL.
  • Demonstrated experience implementing and optimizing python code on highly parallelized multi-node systems, including the use of PBS/Slurm
  • Familiarity with source code configuration management systems, preferably Git or GitLab.
  • Good communication skills, including writing documents that describe software design and interfaces, and that summarize and report test and data analysis results.

Applicants for this position must be a United States (US) person as defined by ITAR regulations - A US person is a citizen of the United States, a lawful permanent resident alien of the US (“Green Card” holder), or individuals granted refugee and Asylum status under US law.

Preferred Qualifications

Beyond these basic qualifications, there are a set of skills and experiences that will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of an NEO Survey software developer. 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:

  • Experience setting up and carrying out software testing, including unit and integrated tests
  • Ability to work in an Agile development model and JIRA software ticketing.

Required Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae

While an initial short-term remote work period may be considered, this position is an on-site role in Pasadena, California.

Life at IPAC

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 41 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.

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 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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