The University of Texas at Austin Job Posting

This posting is Closed

Research Engineering/ Scientist Associate I - Telescope Operator

Hiring department McDonald Observatory
Monthly salary $2,958+ depending on qualifications
Hours per week 40.00 Variable
Posting number 18-07-06-01-4216
Job Status Closed
FLSA status Exempt
Earliest Start Date Immediately
Position Duration Funding expected to continue
Position open to all applicants
Location McDonald Observatory (near Ft. Davis, TX)
Number of vacancies 1
General Notes

Position located at McDonald Observatory, 16 miles from Ft. Davis, Texas (440 miles away from UT Austin Campus). Frequent night, weekend, and holiday duty required. Occasional on-call duty required. Position may be subject to "call-back" as an essential employee for emergencies or critical response.

Required Application Materials

  • A Resume is required in order to apply
  • A Letter of Interest is required in order to apply.
  • A List of 3 References is required in order to apply.

Additional Information


Operate the Hobby-Eberly Telescope facility, a 10+ meter class telescope, in a safe and efficient manner at the behest of the resident astronomer and any visiting engineers. Much of the work will be from sunset to sunrise in front of a Linux/Unix computer console.

Essential Functions

Conduct night-time operations, sunset to sunrise, at the behest of the resident astronomer or visiting staff. Operate facility including mirror alignment, setup and maintain setup on science targets, prevent and recover from problems, monitor weather and facility conditions, and coordinate with resident astronomer and engineers to efficiently complete observational/engineering goals. Keep accurate, professional and clear night report. Contribute to a productive and efficient working environment. Support night time operations, including attending general and operations staff meetings (usually during the day); communicating with outgoing telescope operator before shift; working with other telescope operators, supervisor, and the administrative associate to keep an up-to-date work schedule; and working on projects to support operations (sometimes during the day). Projects may include theoretical work, documentation, hardware and/or software projects depending on the candidate's skill set. Support day time operations, including providing ops engineering and review and comment on changes to facility operations. Keep accurate and updated time sheets and complete required training and paperwork.

Marginal/Incidental functions

Other related functions as assigned.

Required qualifications

Bachelor's degree in in Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering or a related field with knowledge of engineering and/or scientific equipment ordinarily used in laboratory work. Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Must be able to work efficiently and productively with small teams (listen, seek clarification, and take feedback) during the time critical science operations. Equivalent combination of relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Completion of advanced courses leading to a master's degree in STEM fields and/or one or more years of experience with operation of a 1+ meter telescope. Understanding of observational astronomical terminology. Experience with developing and adapting to changes in complex procedures for repetitive tasks. Experience with quickly trouble shooting, documenting and working through faults in complex hardware and software systems. Experience working in a Linux or Unix environment through both command-line interfaces and graphical user interface (GUIs).

Working conditions

May work in all weather conditions May work in extreme temperatures May work around chemical fumes May work around standard office conditions May work around electrical and mechanical hazards Repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation Use of manual dexterity Climbing of stairs Climbing of ladders Lifting and moving Residence in the Observatory's residential community may not be available.

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