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 Research Engineer, Vacuum Systems 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 staff-in other words, the more diverse our team is-the 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.
Execute vent and pump down activities by qualifying performance of vacuum equipment, venting/pumping large volumes, removing/installing chamber doors, leak checking, analyzing RGA data, and operating large beam tube gate valves.
Write specifications, select, and procure vacuum equipment including turbo and ion pumps, gauges, valves, and purge air skids; interface with suppliers.
Engineer, design, fabricate, and test mechanical structures for vacuum equipment installation.
Design, implement, and test controls systems for vacuum equipment operation and safety interlocks.
Perform maintenance on equipment including air compressors, drying towers, and vacuum pumps.
Monitor vacuum system including pressures along 4 km arms; propose a plan of action for malfunctioning components or systems.
Oversee vacuum bake oven lab and provide guidance to lab technicians.
Implement modifications to vacuum boundary when required for interferometer operations; install and test vacuum components/equipment and leak check joints using mass spectrometry.
Support visiting scientists performing experiments involving the vacuum system. Ensure all operations are performed safely, minimizing risk to machine.
Mentor junior-level vacuum support staff, including LIGO India visitors.
Provide mechanical and electrical support to facility's infrastructure; trained to work with high voltage circuits.
BS in Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical or Systems Engineering; Physics; Material Science; or a related scientific or engineering field. We will also consider 5 years of experience in a related field in lieu of a degree.
5 or more years of vacuum-related engineering or scientific research work experience.
Demonstrated proficiency in operation, analysis, and performance characterization of high- or ultra-high vacuum systems.
Knowledge and experience in selection and application of UHV-compatible materials.
Effective English-language written and verbal communication skills and habits.
Exhibit level-headed professionalism and excellent interpersonal and team skills.
Ability to lift at least 20 pounds.
Experience related to industrial automation as applied to large-scale vacuum systems.
Experience related to the operation of vacuum bake ovens.
Hands-on experience and skill in building, improving and maintaining high- or ultra-high vacuum systems.
Experience related to fluid, cryogen, pressure, flow rate, and gas sensors and instrumentation.
Experience operating or maintaining large research, university, national laboratory or industrial facilities.
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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The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution, where extraordinary faculty and students seek answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation, and transform our future.