Palomar Observatory Site Superintendent

California University of Technology
Palomar Observatory, North San Diego County, Ca.
16 Nov 2016
End of advertisement period
14 Dec 2016
Contract Type
Full Time

Job Summary

Palomar Observatory and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) seeks a highly motivated and experienced technical manager and/or engineer to serve as the Observatory Site Superintendent.
This full-time, benefited position is located at Palomar Observatory (approximately 140 miles from the Caltech Campus in Pasadena Ca.), and reports to the Observatory Director’s Office at the Pasadena Ca. campus.
Working with other senior Observatory personnel, the successful applicant will be responsible for supervising and coordinating the day-to-day administrative, operations, maintenance, safety, personnel, and physical infrastructure services for the Observatory. The Site Superintendent also serves as the point of first contact between the Observatory and local, State, and Federal authorities. The Site Superintendent position requires both day and nighttime work activities based on Observatory operational needs.

Palomar Observatory operates multiple telescopes on a 2000 acre site; see for more information.
The Palomar Mountain environment presents diverse weather challenges including the possibility of significant snowfall, wildfire, and high-wind conditions. All Observatory facilities are maintained at a high preparedness level and operate every clear night. Palomar Observatory is set at altitude (5500 ft elevation), experiences inclement weather, and has complex terrain and building infrastructure. The Palomar Site Superintendent must be able to work effectively in settings outside of the traditional office environment.

Note: Nominal probationary period of one year, with COO’s option to preemptively declare successful probation completion after a period of not less than six months.

Job Duties

The successful applicant will:
1. Direct the day-to-day operations of Palomar Observatory, supervising a staff of approximately 25 engineering, maintenance, and administrative employees.

2. Assist in developing and directing the planned maintenance of observatory equipment and facilities.

3. Provide broad direction, supervision, and activity planning for on-site Observatory staff.

4. Lead the maintenance and problem correction of complex electrical, mechanical, optical, and electronic equipment.

5. In conjunction with other Observatory personnel: monitor the operations and performance of Observatory telescopes, domes, control systems, and instruments; design and implement plans for Observatory systems upgrades; and insure the maintenance and operational continuity of Observatory systems, infrastructure, and physical plant services for the Observatory compound which may involve lifting and carrying Observatory equipment and supplies weighing up to 25 pounds.

6. Interview and retain necessary contractors to perform engineering, maintenance, and/or construction that will not be performed by Observatory or Caltech staff.

7. Plan and/or oversee the procurement and inventory of supplies and spares.

8. Develop and insure implementation of Observatory safety plans and procedures, and insure Observatory personnel are trained in and implement same.

9. Other duties as assigned by Observatory Management.

Basic Qualifications

1. Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy, Physics, Optical or Electrical Engineering, or related discipline, with a minimum of five (5) years of experience in a professional astronomy context, or a comparable body of experience equivalent to same.
2. Demonstrated abilities in team leadership and personnel management.
3. The successful applicant must pass a pre-employment background investigation and post-offer physical examination involving the lifting and carrying of 25 pounds of tools and supplies etc. to be hired for this position.

Preferred Qualifications

1. Ten (10) or more years of experience in a professional astronomy context.
2. Knowledgeable of a wide range of optical, electro-optical, and telescope engineering materials, processes, and practices.
3. Knowledgeable of astronomical telescopes, instrumentation, and observation techniques.
4. Familiarity with engineered/commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software products and services from outside vendors that may be germane to Observatory maintenance and operations.

Supervisory position? Yes

.Posting Detail Information

Posting Open Date
Posting Close Date
Open Until Filled

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.