Operations Specialist

Louisiana, United States
Monday, 26 October 2020
End of advertisement period
Saturday, 26 December 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

The work location for this position is at the LIGO Livingston Observatory, near Livingston, Louisiana.

Caltech is more than a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, it is a community—a community of curious and passionate individuals who collaborate to understand and solve complex scientific and societal challenges. Caltech is an award-winning workplace and one of the best places to work. We offer an exciting and dynamic work environment, exceptional career development opportunities, competitive pay programs, great benefits, and the opportunity to participate in many campus programs and activities. Exceptional employees are critical to Caltech’s success.

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), part of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech (www.caltech.edu), 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. LIGO Laboratory seeks a highly motivated and skilled Operations Specialist to join its team.  

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 awarding of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics to its founders. LIGO consists of two widely separated (3,002 km), 4 kilometer-long interferometers operating as a single, phased detector. One (LIGO Hanford Observatory) is located north of Richland, Washington and the other (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 http:\\www.ligo.caltech.edu .”

LIGO is a family-friendly laboratory and strives to ensure everyone is able to achieve the work-life balance they desire. Employees have access to a wide range of benefits including a child-care assistance program.

LIGO Laboratory is committed to being a welcoming place for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or veteran status. https://hr.caltech.edu/careers/2commitment-diversity

Job Duties

  • Report to LLO Operations Specialist Team leader
  • Assisting the Detector Engineer Group with continuous improvement of operation and maintenance processes
  • Implement detector system upgrades and improvements
  • Support the execution LIGO’s Detector Improvements projects plan established by LIGO’s Chief Engineer. The work requires a high degree of coordination, communication, and scheduling
  • Carry out work as a Detector operator of the LIGO Livingston Observatory; The Operations Team is responsible for 24-hour monitoring and adjustment of interferometer systems and associated observatory equipment and facilities to deliver optimal performance and data integrity during Engineering and Science observations
  • Complete detailed report in the electronic log for all operational issues during shift
  • Complete Core and Advanced Operators training and certification and in so doing develop a working knowledge of how to operate and maintain the interferometers and support systems i.e. Advanced LIGO optics, electro-mechanical components, electronic controls, data acquisition and control hardware, and software through on-the-job experience, training, and interaction with LIGO staff and visitors
  • Carry out daily system performance checking and calibration, maintenance, and upgrade of instrumentation at the Observatory
  • Report operational fault issues to the Detector Engineering Group using the fault report system
  • Help perform upgrades and maintenance programs established with Detector team leader, including the interferometers, infrastructure, support equipment, and other apparatus as required
  • Help organize preventive maintenance programs, procure/store detector spare components and conduct regular inventory physical audits of spare components
  • Participate in the physical characterization of instrumental signatures in the interferometer data and assist with the development of techniques and analysis methods for improving its quality
  • Maintain all general and job-specific safety certifications and carry out specific safety inspections. Report to site safety manager for all safety issues
  • May require occasional travel to other LIGO installations and collaborating institutions

Basic Qualifications

  • BS in physical science or engineering or equivalent experience
  • 2 years of experience developing, testing or operating scientific or other precision instrumentation, or equivalent coursework and laboratory experience
  • Proficiency with standard office computing applications (e.g., Word, Excel, and web applications)
  • Excellent English language written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to evaluate, describe, and act on quantitative information. This normally involves mathematical calculations
  • 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
  • The successful candidate must be able to undertake extended shift work assignments during observing runs
  • Ability to follow complex procedures in a timely manner
  • A proactive approach to work quality and completion
  • Safety oriented
  • Valid U.S. driver’s license, safe driving record

Preferred Qualifications

  • Technical experience with lasers, optics, analog or digital electronics, cleanroom protocols, or high vacuum technology
  • Experience working in an observatory or other production laboratory environment
  • Experience in laser engineering or opto-mechanical systems design
  • Familiarity with some scientific modeling and analysis applications, such as MATLAB, Mathematica, SPICE; the C programming language; the UNIX operating system
  • Proficiency with 2D and 3D CAD software (such as ACAD and SolidWorks) will be beneficial. Finite element analysis experience is a plus
  • Electronics assembly, testing or troubleshooting
  • Experience with EPICS databases, scripts for automating tasks, and the ability to develop and create GUIs
  • Experience in software development or testing
  • Experience in use of hand tools and working with complex mechanical assemblies
  • Electronics assembly, testing or troubleshooting

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter

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