Opto-Mechanical Engineer

The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science is an astronomical research organization headquartered in Pasadena, California. Carnegie scientists and engineers have produced over a century of remarkable scientific breakthroughs including Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the existence of a universe beyond the Milky Way almost a century ago to the recent discovery of the most distant supermassive black hole and the light from merging neutron stars first detected with the LIGO Gravitational Wave Observatory. Carnegie Observatories has a century-long legacy of designing and building telescopes and their instruments to enable such breakthroughs.

Carnegie Science owns and operates the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile (http://www.lco.cl/), 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, the births and deaths of galaxies, and the shape and scale of the universe. Central to our scientific mission is the development of innovative telescopes and optical systems that have changed the practice of astronomy. 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.

For this job, we are looking for an engineer to work on the MIRMOS project. MIRMOS is a new vacuum-cryogenic spectrograph for the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope. MIRMOS will operate at 120 K and require fast optics with incredibly tight tolerances. All told, there are 43 optical elements. Despite the challenge, MIRMOS is an order of magnitude improvement over the state of the art. Once built MIRMOS will be a workhorse instrument used for many hundreds of nights over the next decade to study objects from the most distant galaxies found right after the birth of the universe, to the atmospheres of newly discovered worlds orbiting around other stars. MIRMOS will continue Carnegie’s legacy of exciting fundamental discoveries, and we are looking for team members who will join us in this exciting endeavor.

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.

Typical Job Activities:

  • Be an integral member of the MIRMOS team, working to develop ultra-high precision cryogenic optomechanical systems using SolidWorks for design and FEA.

  • Play a hands-on role in the design, fabrication, and assembly of optomechanical instrumentation, working in a collaborative environment of scientists, engineers, mechanical technicians, our in-house machine shop, and instrumentation postdocs.

  • Own the definition of requirements, lead the design effort, and simulation of optical systems with components including large CaF2 optics, dichroics, diffraction gratings, and infrared detectors.

  • Perform tolerance analysis, scattered light analysis, and predict the performance of the system.

  • Work closely with vendors to understand constraints, trades, and design for manufacturing.

  • Travel and work at the world-class Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

  • Participate as a mentor and educational lead in the Carnegie Astrophysical Summer Student Internship (CASSI) Program. Train undergraduate students during an annual one-week workshop for summer undergraduate interns and mentor engineering-focused student interns.

  • Continued professional development through membership in professional societies, attending conferences, reading journals, learning about constructing astronomical optical systems of all types, and serving on international instrument review committees.

Requirements for this position include:

  • B.S., M.S., or Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, optical engineering, physics, or equivalent knowledge as demonstrated by work experience.

  • At least 3-years of experience in optomechanical engineering.

  • Experience with precision mechanism design and assembly, error budgeting, tolerance analysis, and GD&T.

  • Strong knowledge of parametric CAD, with a preference for Solidworks.

  • Able to work with the optical engineering team to incorporate analysis work into Zemax or Code V.

  • Ability to travel domestically and internationally (up to 20%) and work at observatory summits at 8,000 feet.

  • Authorized to work in the US.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with lenslet arrays, microoptics, and/or fiber optics.

  • Interest in and motivation to develop extremely challenging lens mounts for our optics.

  • Knowledge of lens design.

  • Interest in our mission to impact the state of practice of astronomy by building new astronomical instruments.


Application Process

  • For consideration, please submit a cover letter and resume for the position. Candidates meeting requirements will be invited for a Zoom interview with the hiring team, followed by an on-campus interview.

  • The cover letter is an important part of our evaluation process. Written communication skills for this position are highly valued, and the cover letter will be evaluated in this way. Our hiring team enjoys thoughtful explanations for wanting to work at Carnegie.

  • Candidates are encouraged to comment within this cover letter on their previous contributions to strengthening diversity, equity, and/or inclusion within their previous educational or work communities or ideas for contributing to DEI on our campus. This could be through the candidates lived experiences or through their demonstrated or planned commitment to promoting DEI. 

The position comes with a 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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