Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory Operations Specialist

California, United States
21 Jun 2019
End of advertisement period
21 Aug 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

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Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled 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 online in 2015 and shortly afterward 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, visit the Laboratory website at .

The successful candidate for this position will join the LIGO Hanford Observatory (LHO) Operations Specialist team, and share responsibility for 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

  • Report to the LHO Operations Specialist Team Leader
  • Operation of a large-scale gravitational wave interferometer
  • This work will support 24­hour monitoring and adjustment of interferometer systems and associated observatory equipment and facilities to ensure optimal performance and data integrity. The work schedule may cover any time during the 24­hour operations and schedules may vary. Future work will include hardware upgrades and installation
  • Develop a working knowledge of how to operate and maintain the interferometers and support systems through on-the-job experience, training, and interaction with LIGO staff and visitors
  • Carry out calibration, maintenance, and upgrade of instrumentation at the Observatory, including the interferometers, infrastructure, support equipment, and other apparatus as required
  • Participate in the physical characterization of instrumental signatures in the interferometer data and assist with the development of operational techniques and analysis methods to discriminate these signatures
  • Assisting in assembly, installation, testing, and commissioning of the Advanced LIGO optics, electro­mechanical components, electronic controls, and data acquisition and control hardware/software during breaks from data-observing
  • Participate in scientific and educational activities of the observatory, including detector science and astrophysical investigations and outreach
  • Assist in the development of new technologies, protocols, and methods to support the Observatory’s continuing mission. These efforts may require occasional travel to other LIGO installations and collaborating institutions in Livingston, Louisiana, Pasadena, California, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and possibly internationally
  • 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
  • At times will need to lift equipment weighing up to 40 pounds
  • Other duties as assigned

Basic Qualifications

  • BS in physical sciences 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 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
  • The successful candidate must be able 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

  • Master's degree in physical sciences or engineering or equivalent experience
  • Experience working in a large scientific collaboration
  • Familiarity with some scientific modeling and analysis applications, such as MATLAB, Mathematica, SPICE; the C, Perl & Python programming languages; the Debian & UNIX operating systems
  • Proficiency in 2D and 3D CAD software (such as AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS). Finite element analysis experience is beneficial
  • Experience with EPICS databases, scripts for automating tasks, and the ability to develop and create GUIs would be an asset
  • Specialized technical experience with lasers, optics, analog or digital electronics, cleanroom protocols, or high vacuum technology will also be advantageous
  • Experience in laser engineering or opto­mechanical systems design
  • Experience in software development

Required Documents

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter