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 (, 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.

At Carnegie, we provide a comprehensive salary and benefits package and our team values work-life balance so we have a strong record of offering workplace flexibility.

For this job, we are looking for a Mechanical Engineer already experienced in optomechanical engineering or with related experience to work on the MIRMOS project. MIRMOS is a new vacuum-cryogenic spectrograph for the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope. Our aim is for MIRMOS to operate 10 times faster than any such instrument before it. 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.

Although this position is in Pasadena, CA, some remote work may be available. However, the candidate will need to be in the office for four days a week. Furthermore, extensive travel to vendors and our observatory will be required. Applicants need to be authorized to work for a US employer.


  • 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 and any other mechanical design, working in a collaborative environment of scientists, engineers, mechanical technicians, our in-house machine shop, instrumentation postdocs, and graduate students.
  • Own the definition of requirements, lead the design effort, and simulation of multiple optic assemblies, mechanisms, and alignment/test fixtures.
  • Perform tolerance analysis and predict the performance of the system.
  • Develop technical documentation, such as technical notes, quantitative studies, design documentation, testing plans and verification results.
  • Participate in and lead design reviews to obtain a peer-oriented design assessment throughout the design process.
  • 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. in mechanical engineering, optical engineering, physics, or equivalent knowledge as demonstrated by work experience.
  • At least 5 years of experience in optomechanical engineering or related work.
  • Experience with precision mechanism design and assembly, error budgeting, tolerance analysis, and GD&T.
  • Must be proficient in 3D solid modeling CAD and able to conduct stress, modal, shock and vibration, and thermal analysis. SolidWorks preferred.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Self-starter requiring minimal direction.
  • Able to work with the optical engineering team to incorporate analysis work into Zemax or Code V.

Preferred Qualifications:

• Experience with lenslet arrays, micro-optics, and/or fiber optics.
• M.S. or Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, optical engineering, physics, or equivalent knowledge as demonstrated by work experience.
• Familiarity with design and materials requirements for cryogenic and vacuum systems.
• Interest in and motivation to develop extremely challenging lens mounts for our optics.
• Knowledge of lens design and lens mounting.
• Interest in our mission to impact the state of practice of astronomy by building new astronomical instruments.

Physical Demands and Working Conditions:

  • Must be able to perform the essential duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • Ability to travel domestically and internationally (up to 20%) with some overnight travel required, and work at observatory summits at 8,000 feet.
  • Physical Demands:
    • Required to move about in an office and machine shop environment and sit for extended periods of time.
    • Required to move about in the community.
    • Frequent use of hands for data entry/keystrokes, use of hand tools and simple grasping
  • Working Conditions:
  • Moderate noise level
  • Occasional exposure to prevalent weather conditions

Expected Compensation: $130,000 – $170,000 annually. Exact salary determined by experience and education related to the role, organizational compensation structure, budget and internal equity.

Application Process

Only online applications submitted through our website will be considered. Application acceptance will continue until the position is filled. No phone calls please. Only select candidates who meet our requirements will be contacted.

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. As such, we encourage applicants from under-represented groups and backgrounds to apply. The Carnegie Institution is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, protected veteran status, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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