LIGO Operations Specialist

California University of Technology
Richland, Washington, United States
10 Jul 2017
End of advertisement period
08 Aug 2017
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Full Time

Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Operations Specialist to join its team. LIGO Laboratory 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. In 2015 LIGO launched the field of gravitational wave astronomy with the first ever successful observation of the birth of a black hole. In addition to research and development (R&D) sites on the Caltech and MIT campuses, LIGO consists of two widely separated (3,002 km), 4 kilometer-long interferometers operated as a phased detector. One (LIGO Hanford Observatory) is located north of Richland, Washington and the other (LIGO Livingston Observatory) is in Livingston, Louisiana. The Laboratory maintains a vigorous R&D program, in parallel to running the observatories, to further enhance the capabilities of the LIGO detectors. For more information, visit the Laboratory website at

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

Job Duties

  • 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 insure 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.
  • Software & Control work related to Beckhoff systems, LIGO Guardian Control system, Facilities software, Settings Definition File (SDF) Maintenance, assisting with model management, assisting with calibration, & overall documentation
  • Carry out calibration, maintenance, and upgrade of instrumentation at the Observatory, including the interferometers, infrastructure, support equipment, and other apparatus as required.
  • Participate in 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 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 & preparation of hardware for LIGO India.
  • At times will at times need to lift hardware up to 20lbs.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Basic Qualifications

  • BS in physical science or engineering or equivalent experience (equivalent experience is equal to a High School Diploma/GED and 4 years relevant experience or AA degree and 2 years relevant experience).
  • 2 years of experience developing, testing or operating scientific or other precision instrumentation, or equivalent coursework and laboratory experience.
  • Proficiency with 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.
  • Ability to lift 20 or more pounds of tools and equipment as needed.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Masters degree is preferred.
  • 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 with 2D and 3D CAD software (such as ACAD and SolidWorks) will be beneficial. Finite element analysis experience is a plus.
  • 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 opto­-mechanical systems design.
  • Experience in software development.

Supervisory position? No

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.