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 Operations Specialist - Pasadena, California, United States

Job information
Posted by: California Institute of Technology 
Hiring entity type: Other 
Work authorization: Existing work authorization required for United States
Position type: Direct Hire, Full-Time 
Compensation: ******
Benefits: See below
Relocation: Not specified 
Position functions: Computers - Programming Languages
Engineering - Electrical
Engineering - Mechanical
Computers - Software Engineer
Travel: Unspecified 
Accept candidates: from anywhere 
Languages: English - Fluent
Minimum education: See below 
Minimum years experience: See below 
Resumes accepted in: English
Cover letter: No cover letter requested
Job code: 2206680 / Latpro-3783921 
Date posted: Apr-07-2021
State, Zip: California, 91125


Operations Specialist


Job Category: Fulltime Regular
Exempt Overtime Eligible: Exempt
Benefits Eligible: Benefit Based

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.

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 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.

For more information, please visit the Laboratory website at

This position is located in Richland, WA.

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 HR diversity page:

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.

Job Duties

  • Report to the LHO Operations Specialist Team Leader.
  • Operation of a large-scale gravitational wave interferometer through monitoring and adjustment of interferometer systems, associated observatory equipment, and facilities to insure desired performance and data integrity. The work schedule may cover any time during the 24hour operations and schedules may vary.
  • Coordinate and review interferometer activities.
  • Assist in assembly, installation, inventory, testing, and commissioning of the Advanced LIGO and Advanced LIGO Plus optics, electromechanical components, electronic controls, or data acquisition and control hardware/software.
  • Carry out maintenance, calibration, 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.
  • Occasionally participate in educational activities for the public, including detector science, astrophysical investigations, and basic science concepts.
  • 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.
  • Participate in general safety and laser safety training. Report any safety issues to the LHO Site Safety Manager and/or LHO Laser Safety Officer.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Basic Qualifications

  • BS in physical sciences or engineering or equivalent 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.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Master's degree in physical sciences or engineering or equivalent experience.
  • Experience working in a large scientific collaboration.
  • Skilled in high-level programming languages (Python, Bash, etc.) for use with general scripting, state machines, or data visualization.
  • Knowledgeable with scientific modeling and analysis applications, such as MATLAB or LabVIEW.
  • Familiarity with the Debian & UNIX operating systems.
  • Proficiency with 2D and 3D CAD software (such as AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS) and reading mechanical drawings.
  • 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.

Required Documents

  • Resume

    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.



    See job description.


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