Mechanical Technician

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.
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. Our team's 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 we create are complex one-of-a-kind facilities. Our team generally is involved in all aspects of the work including proposing, design, integration and test, and commissioning in Chile. Individuals in this role will be responsible to work with the team to develop and execute procedures for assembling complex optical instruments. During some phases of the project, there will be a lot of design and planning work, while during others there will be plenty of lab work.
  • The team works with students and postdoctoral trainees often, and so we foster a nurturing 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. 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!).
We seek a full-time individual to join the team for a two-year placement, but this could be extended pending future funding and mutual agreement.
Typical activities
  • Most of the work will be on a cryogenic infrared spectrograph with activities in a few broad categories:
  • Working with the scientists and engineers to develop and execute procedures, including bonding parts, and pumping and cooling vacuum chambers.
  • Opto-mechanical assembly of complex instruments.
  • Operate optical and mechanical measurement and fabrication tools such as 3D printers, standard machine shop equipment, wavefront sensors, alignment telescopes, and coordinate measuring machines.
  • Managing the cleaning and heat treatment of parts as they are fabricated.
  • Maintaining an inventory of parts and ensuring that the laboratory is stocked with appropriate consumables.
Required Qualifications:
  • Demonstrated work or school experience in producing and testing engineered mechanical systems.
  • Demonstrated ability and expressed interest in working collaboratively within a team, executing complex instructions by following detailed procedures, 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 producing precision optical systems
  • Prior experience with optical and mechanical measurement and fabrication tools
  • Strong communication skills

The position comes with competitive salary, retirement, health insurance, and other benefits package. 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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