Lead Operations Specialist

California, United States
Wednesday, 9 October 2019
End of advertisement period
Monday, 9 December 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Lead Operations Specialist to join its team. LIGO is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to gravitational wave astronomy and astrophysics, jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The current generation of advanced interferometers came on line in 2015 and shortly afterwards LIGO launched the field of gravitational wave astronomy with the first observation of the birth of a black hole; this achievement led to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to LIGO founders. LIGO consists of two widely separated (3,002 km), 4 kilometer-long interferometers operating as a single, phased detector. LIGO Hanford Observatory is located north of Richland, Washington and LIGO Livingston Observatory is in Livingston, Louisiana. Concurrent to observatory operations, the Laboratory maintains a vigorous R&D program, primarily centered at the Caltech and MIT campuses, to further enhance the capabilities of the LIGO detectors. For more information, please visit the Laboratory website at https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/.

The successful candidate for this position will join the LIGO Hanford Observatory (LHO) Operations team, and lead the operators in the optimization, operation, and maintenance of the detector and infrastructure at the LIGO Hanford Observatory.

The work location is at the LIGO Hanford Observatory, near Richland, WA.

Job Duties

  • Manage the staffing of the Control Room and observatory instrumentation team of Operations Specialists at the LIGO Hanford Observatory; will support 24-hour monitoring and adjustment of interferometer systems and associated observatory equipment and facilities to ensure optimal performance, safe operation, and associated observations of gravitational waves
  • Comprise the interface for subsystem leads in coordinating duties that are accomplished outside of normal operator shifts (ex: facilitate operator participation in the assembly, test, data collection and analysis of the Photon Calibration system)
  • Though not the primary function, this position contributes to shift work in the Control Room as part of Observatory Operations team
  • Tasks include monitoring and controlling site activities, serving as single point of contact for routine activities and unanticipated events, participates as a site representative in the Rapid Response Team for putative gravitational wave triggers, carries out calibration, maintenance, and upgrade of instrumentation
  • Oversee and assist with installation, test, commissioning, and operation of interferometer components, electronic controls, data acquisition and control hardware and software
  • Execute calibration, maintenance, and upgrade of observatory instrumentation
  • Maintain a working knowledge of how to operate the interferometers and support systems through on-the-job experience, training, and interaction with LIGO staff and visitors
  • Coordinate regular meetings with staff to keep them informed of site business, upcoming projects, and receive feedback on what is needed for them to do their jobs
  • Give regular feedback to staff on their performance
  • Actively work on Employee Performance Reviews
  • Participate in scientific and educational activities of the observatory, including detector science, astrophysical investigations, and public outreach
  • Assist in inventory, assembly, installation, testing, and commissioning of Advanced LIGO Plus assemblies and hardware
  • Participate in general safety and laser safety training
  • Report any safety issues to the LHO Site Safety Manager and/or LHO Laser Safety Officer
  • Interface with Operator Supervisor at the LLO Observatory & at other observatories
  • Offer career development opportunities for operator staff such as training, workshops, etc.
  • Offer guidance for future career path for operator staff
  • Develop innovative solutions to detector operational challenges, cooperatively with scientists, engineers, operators, and those at other LIGO Scientific Collaboration sites
  • Other duties as assigned

The typical level loading for this position is approximately: Control room shift-work associated with commissioning and observational running of the detector – 35%, management and administration of the Operation Specialist team – 35%, subsystem work, programming, hardware etc. – 30%.​

Basic Qualifications

  • BS in physical sciences or engineering, or equivalent years of experience
  • 3 years’ experience as on Operations Specialist with hands on duties operating a large scale Interferometer
  • 2 years of experience developing, testing or operating scientific or other precision instrumentation, or equivalent coursework and laboratory experience
  • Proficiency in standard computing applications (e.g., Word, Excel, and web applications)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Strong teamwork skills and an ability to collaborate with coworkers having diverse skills and backgrounds
  • An aptitude and enthusiasm to learn new skills, and to assist and train others
  • Must have a valid driver’s license at the start of employment and maintain it throughout the course of employment
  • Must be able to travel occasionally, via airplane to other installations and collaborating institutions
  • Ability to work a varied schedule during observing runs; this may include evenings, overnights, weekends, and holidays
  • At times will need to lift equipment weighing up to 40 pounds

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated managerial and leadership abilities, including work planning, delegation, and development of staff career opportunities, in an engineering environment
  • Experience working effectively in high-stress operational settings
  • Proficiency in the Python programming language
  • Excellent problem-solving capabilities
  • Familiarity with diversity/underrepresented group hiring practices

Required Documents

  • Resume