Systems Administrator

California, United States
13 Nov 2018
End of advertisement period
13 Jan 2019
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

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 in the greater Los Angeles area. 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.  We seek the best and brightest talent to join our workforce and become members of our community. Exceptional employees are critical to Caltech’s success.


As a part of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech, IPAC ( provides science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to maximize discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground. We are partners with NASA, NSF, JPL, and the international research community to advance exploration of our Universe. Over our three-decade history, we have provided a range of support for more than 20 astronomy missions, helping each to bring forth major advances in astrophysics and cosmology. As a member of our engineering team, you will enable scientists to explore the mysteries of the cosmos, discover new planets, find out what dark energy is, and detect the next potentially hazardous asteroid.

Life at Caltech/IPAC

IPAC is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California by the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Caltech is small, but has an extraordinary science impact, with 39 Nobel Prizes awarded to faculty and alumni.  Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System.  Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar and Keck Observatories, and LIGO, which in 2016 observed gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time. 

Pasadena is a city known for its contributions to science and technology, and its rich history, cultural treasures, scenic beauty, and year-round comfortable weather create a desirable environment for life and ideas to thrive.  See Bill Nye’s take on our city.

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan.  IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

We are an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor. Click here to read more about Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).

Job Duties

Where You Fit In

As an IPAC Systems Administrator, you will be a member of the IPAC Support Group Systems Engineering Team that provides systems engineering, network engineering and systems administration support for all IPAC projects, as well as the organization at large. We manage tens of petabytes of data, high-speed networks, compute clusters, and the on-site data centers to house them. You will help maintain our data systems by designing and operating our backup systems, handling petabytes of disk space, and helping to create the next generation of IPAC’s storage infrastructure. You will also help out with our routine support calls, help to maintain our infrastructure services and assist in keeping the data centers fully operational. Our systems run 24x7 and we generally work a regular work week however occasionally you may need to support off-hours activities. We encourage career education and this position may have occasional opportunities to attend industry conferences and related classes.

Basic Qualifications

  • Your Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related field will prepare you for this role
  • Having at least 3 years of experience with Linux, specifically Red Hat, CentOS or Debian, will enable you to support our systems
  • Good written and interpersonal communication skills -- with an emphasis on the ability to share ideas in a collaborative setting -- will enable you to work as part of our team
  • Being able to organize and manage priorities across multiple tasks will enable you to handle the challenges of this position
  • Applicants for this position must be a United States (US) person as defined by ITAR regulations. A US person is a citizen of the United States, a lawful permanent resident alien of the US (“Green Card” holder), or individuals granted refugee and Asylee status under US law
  • Cover letter must be submitted

Preferred Qualifications

We don't expect you to be an authority on every technology and system we use. However, any of the following will make you an even better fit for this position:

  • Do you have experience with enterprise backup systems like EMC Networker or NetBackup?
  • What about tape backup systems?
  • How about experience running SAN storage?
  • Experience with file systems such as ext3 & 4, xfs on Linux is helpful
  • We use ZFS extensively and those skills will enable you to jump in quickly
  • How are your scripting skills in sh, bash, tcsh, Perl, Python or Ruby?
  • As with ZFS, experience with Solaris is a plus
  • We support several data centers. Any amount of data center operations experience is great

Required Documents

  • Cover letter
  • Resume