Mechanical Engineer

The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science is an astronomical research organization headquartered in Pasadena, California. The Carnegie Institution owns and operates the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile (, which includes the twin 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes as well as the 2.5-meter du Pont and 1.0-meter Swope telescopes. Our scientists study extrasolar planets, nearby stars, the Milky Way and its neighbors, distant galaxies, and the cosmological structure and formation of the universe. To support these efforts, we operate an instrument development laboratory to produce research tools including optical and infrared imagers and spectrographs, detector systems, and telescopes at all scales. Current projects include instrumentation for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey V, our 1-meter, 2.5-meter and 6.5-meter telescopes, and the 25-meter Giant Magellan Telescope.

At Carnegie, we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive community. We believe academic environments should be places where diverse groups of people with a variety of viewpoints and ideas can thrive and work together. We strongly encourage applications from candidates who will enrich and foster a culturally diverse and inclusive environment.

We seek a full-time individual to join the team for an initial two-year placement, but this could be extended pending future funding and mutual agreement.
About the team:

  • The Carnegie Observatories Instrumentation Laboratory employs about 15 scientists, engineers, technicians, and machinists. You will work closely with members of this team, whose goal is to develop powerful new instruments and telescopes to enable the next generation of astronomical observation.
  • Our typical projects take a few years to complete. The instruments that we create are complex and one-of-a-kind. Our team is involved in all aspects of the work including proposing, designing, integrating and testing, and commissioning. Some project phases focus on design and planning, while during others there is plenty of lab work.
  • Our team often works with students and postdoctoral trainees. We foster a nurturing and educational environment.
  • We encourage all of our team members to learn and try new ideas and techniques. Carnegie has access to online journals and has an outstanding technical library. Engineers are encouraged to attend conferences and participate in international design reviews. Team members are encouraged to develop new skills.
  • In this time of covid many members of the team work from home and we expect some remote work to be an option. While working on hardware, working at the office is required. (We love seeing kids and pets on zoom!).
Typical activities:
  • Most of the work will be on a cryogenic infrared spectrograph. In this role, typical activities will include designing mounts for optics that are held at cryogenic temperatures, defining test procedures for these mounts, producing prototypes, andtesting them.
  • Working with the team to study various lens mounting technologies.
  • Working with the optical design team to transfer drawings from Zemax or Code V into CAD with an eye to critical details.
  • Simulating the performance of mechanical designs in consultation with the optical design team.
  • Supporting procurement by creating drawings, communicating with vendors, writing RFQs, etc.
Required Qualifications:
  • Demonstrated work or school experience in engineering, designing, and producing precision engineered mechanical systems using parametric CAD and modern machining techniques.
  • Demonstrated ability and expressed interest in working collaboratively within a team, sharing design ideas via oral and written reports, and ability to be self-directed.
  • Ability to travel domestically and internationally (up to 20%).
  • Ability to work at 8,000 ft elevation.
  • Authorized to work in the US.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated work or school experience in designing and producing precision optical systems
  • Proficiency in SolidWorks

The position comes with competitive salary, retirement, health insurance and other benefits. Only electronic applications submitted through our website will be considered. The Carnegie Institution is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, protected veteran status, disability, or other protected group status.

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