Research and Development Engineer

Penn State University

University Park Campus
Date Announced:
Date Closing:
open until filled
Job Number:
Level/Salary Band:
  • 02 – M – Exempt
  • 03 – N – Exempt
Work Unit:
Eberly College of Science
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Full/Part Time:


The Optical and Infrared Instrumentation group in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State has an immediate opening for a Research and Development Engineer to work on optical and near-infrared astronomical instrumentation in a university setting, including leading aspects of the design, development and commissioning of the NASA funded NEID high precision spectrometer. The candidate will be responsible for engineering analysis and design and build of hardware as well as working with and mentoring students in a laboratory environment. A successful candidate will have a wide breadth of experience in optical and mechanical design and engineering, including some of the following key traits. Engineering: Astrophysics instrumentation development experience, preferably including design development and commissioning. Familiarity with optical design programs (e.g., Zemax) and mechanical design software (e.g., Solidworks) is a requirement. This development includes mechanical, electrical, systems and opto-mechanical engineering tasks, and a demonstrated ability work with vendors on instrumentation projects is critical. Travel to remote telescope locations is a required part of this position. Experience handling and aligning large optics will be considered a positive. Project management: Manage projects in an academic setting through the entire project lifecycle. Manage projects of varying scope from initial concept, proposal, engineering development, integration, calibration and commissioning. Personnel management: Candidate will directly supervise undergraduates and technicians, and mentor graduates and post-docs in related endeavors. Research: Author and assist in authoring research publications, present results at conferences and generally be an active member of the astrophysics instrument and technology development community and help driving technological innovation in astronomical instrumentation. Penn State is a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-IV) and the LSST, and hosts the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds. The candidate may have opportunity for involvement in these projects and centers depending upon interest and expertise. This job will be filled as a level 2, or level 3, depending upon the successful candidate's competencies, education, and experience. Typically requires a Bachelor's degree or higher in an Engineering or Science discipline plus two years of related experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience for a level 2. Additional experience and/or education and competencies are required for higher level jobs. Applications must be submitted electronically and should include a curriculum vitae, publication list, statement of research interests, and names and contact information for three references. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Up to two hires may be made depending on qualifications of candidates applying. This position requires that you operate a motor vehicle as a part of your job duties. A valid driver's license and successful completion of a motor vehicle records check will be required in addition to standard background checks. This is a fixed-term appointment funded for one year from date of hire with possibility of re-funding.

These salary bands have been established to provide salary guidelines for staff positions.

Salary Band Minimum Midpoint Maximum
A $16,584 $24,456 $32,328
B $18,240 $26,904 $35,556
C $19,728 $29,592 $39,456
D $21,708 $32,568 $43,416
E $24,312 $36,468 $48,612
F $27,228 $40,848 $54,456
G $30,012 $45,744 $61,500
H $34,188 $52,140 $70,080
I $38,988 $59,424 $79,908
J $43,716 $67,740 $91,812
K $50,712 $78,600 $106,488
L $58,836 $91,176 $123,528
M $68,232 $105,756 $143,292
N $80,508 $124,788 $169,068
O $93,492 $147,252 $201,024
P $110,340 $173,760 $237,192
Q $126,396 $199,056 $271,728
R $151,668 $238,872 $326,088