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.
LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled Vacuum Systems Engineer to join its team. LIGO Laboratory is a National Science Foundation major facility dedicated to observing the newly discovered gravitational-wave universe. Jointly operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the LIGO Laboratory operates world-leading observatories near Richland, WA and Baton Rouge, LA as well as R&D centers on the Caltech and MIT campuses. The LIGO Laboratory's mission spans a broad and vibrant array of activities related to gravitational-wave physics and astronomy, including detector operations, R&D toward detector improvements, gravitational-wave astrophysics, observatory operations, and education and public outreach.
Life at LIGO Hanford Observatory as a Caltech Employee LIGO's observatory in the shrub-steppe of Eastern Washington is an approximately 20-minute commute from Richland, WA., where it is located on the edge of the Department of Energy Hanford Site. Caltech employs a staff of 49 at the Hanford observatory. Caltech has an extraordinary science impact across many fields. Its small size creates a community where innovation and collaboration are the norm. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) 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.
The Tri-Cities (Richland, Kennewick, Pasco) is a rapidly developing community set in the heart of wine-country in southeast Washington state, where the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake rivers meet. The rivers and nearby Cascade and Blue mountain ranges provide ample outdoor recreation opportunities from water-skiing to fishing to hiking. The region is known for its contributions to science and technology in the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the DOE Hanford Site.
People choose to work at LIGO for many reasons, often with fulfilling, long-term careers. 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. 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.
Caltech and LIGO Laboratory's goal is to build a world-class, diverse workforce and support an inclusive environment that encourages professional development and offers top-notch benefits. Our talented staff, who work at the Caltech campus, or one of our Observatories, come from a variety of fields. Positions include scientists, engineers, information technology staff, outreach professionals, managers, writers, business professionals, and administrative staff. We are deeply committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply for these opportunities. Our experience has demonstrated that the broader the styles, characteristics, backgrounds, and abilities of our staffin other words, the more diverse our team isthe greater potential we have for success. Caltech is an equal opportunity employer.
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.
The Vacuum Systems Engineer is an assistant level position designed to support Operations and System improvement projects at the LIGO Hanford Observatory (LHO). The selected candidate will be given responsibilities and tasks appropriate to the depth and breadth of relevant engineering knowledge, skills and experience. The mission of Operations is ensuring efficient, safe, and reliable operation of the interferometer and lab facilities. LHO operates one of the world's largest vacuum systems measuring 10 million liters of continuous ultra-high vacuum (UHV) volume, spanning across two 4 km long orthogonal beamtubes of 1.2 meter diameter and a dozen chambers equipped with world-class optical instrumentation. The vacuum system must sustain nanotorr pressure levels with no unplanned interruptions. It is the responsibility of the vacuum systems engineering team to maintain the safe and reliable operation and upkeep of the vacuum equipment system, consisting of liquid nitrogen cryopumps, ion pumps, getter pumps, turbo pumps, scroll pumps, rotary screw pump, ultra-dry, clean air purge/vent systems, residual gas analyzers, pressure gauges, helium leak detectors, vacuum bake ovens, and valves.
Report to the LHO Site Vacuum Group Leader.
Operate and maintain UHV systems and equipment located at the LIGO Hanford Observatory including pumps, instrumentation, leak detectors, purge/vent system, bake ovens, and large gate valves.
Monitor LHO's vacuum system and respond to alarms in a timely fashion.
Troubleshoot and commission the mechanical and electrical controls of vacuum systems.
Execute routine system performance checks and calibration of vacuum instrumentation and equipment.
Install or retrofit vacuum equipment and leak check large vacuum volumes.
Operate overhead cranes and fork trucks.
Evaluate, specify, and recommend appropriate vacuum equipment.
Manage procurements by writing engineering specifications and statements of work, obtaining competitive bids, and carrying out quality assurance acceptance testing.
Develop and execute formal written procedures to ensure LIGO's vacuum equipment is monitored, protected, and maintained.
Perform engineering calculations and analysis applied to vacuum science.
Promote safety by demonstrating commitment to personal responsibility and value for environment, safety, and security.
Work in industrial and construction environments involving work at height, climbing ladders, moderate lifting, working near operating machinery, exposure to noise, and wearing proper PPE.
Standard 40 hour work week Monday-Friday with occasionally work off-hours, nights or weekends to support mission critical tasks.
Occasional domestic travel via airplane.
Bachelor's degree, or equivalent experience, in Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Electrical Engineering, or related scientific or engineering field.
At least two years of experience developing, testing or operating scientific or other instrumentation, or equivalent laboratory experience.
Excellent written and oral communication skills required.
Aptitude and enthusiasm to learn new skills, and to assist and train others.
Ability to work in a diverse, collaborative environment while also working independently. This includes the ability to exhibit level-headed professionalism, excellent inter-personal skills, and reliability.
Strong organizational skills and an ability to handle multiple and complex tasks and projects concurrently, with attention to detail and deadlines.
Ability to lift at least 20 pounds.
3-5 years of vacuum related engineering or research experience.
Technical experience working in clean room or high vacuum technology.
Experience and demonstrated proficiency operating helium mass-spectrometer leak detection equipment and residual gas analyzers (RGAs) and interpretation of data.
Experience with cryogenic equipment and familiarity with equipment and procedures for handling liquid cryogens.
Experience with and quantitative knowledge of UHV-compatible materials and mechanical design practice.
Experience interpreting electrical diagrams and operating high voltage power supplies.
Experience and knowledge related to industrial automation that is applicable to UHV systems.
Experience using software tools such as Ansys, Matlab, Mathematica, and SolidWorks.
We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.
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