Lead Vacuum Engineer

Richland, WA, USA
Salary and benefits provided by Caltech
03 May 2022
02 Jun 2022

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Job Summary

LIGO Laboratory (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) seeks a highly motivated and skilled LIGO Hanford Site Lead Vacuum 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.

For more information, please visit the Laboratory website at www.ligo.caltech.edu

Job Duties

LIGO comprises two widely separated antennae for astrophysical gravitational wave research. Located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington, each operates within a 10 million-liter ultra-high-vacuum (UHV) system, the largest in existence. They each include 8 km of 1.2m-diameter beam tube, interconnecting thirteen 3m-diameter vessels that house the detector apparatus. LIGO detectors operate in the 10-9 Torr pressure range, relying on a combination of cryogenic, turbomolecular, ion and getter pump technologies, combined with stringent material and operating protocols. The observatory sites are supported by science and engineering research facilities at MIT in Cambridge, MA and at Caltech in Pasadena, CA.

As a senior member of the core Hanford Observatory Operations staff, the selectee will supervise and lead the group tasked with optimizing, maintaining and improving the site vacuum system and its supporting infrastructure.

  • Maintain the Observatory vacuum system and support facilities; initiate, plan and execute changes to this system; monitor system performance; and lead a group assigned to support this work.
  • Plan and oversee equipment procurement and repairs, including budget development, preparing specifications, competitive procurement, contractor selection, contract monitoring, and quality assurance.
  • Collaborate with research scientists and engineers to optimize UHV performance of in-vacuo scientific apparatus, and to minimize risks of contamination.
  • Collaborate in research into UHV techniques, system design, and potential future vacuum upgrades.
  • Establish and maintain procedures to ensure that vacuum equipment is monitored, protected and maintained.
  • Serve as a standing member of the LIGO Laboratory’s Vacuum Review Board (with periodic rotations as Chair).
  • Serve as a consulting member on Design Review, Technical Review or other Laboratory committees and panels as may be required.
  • Support and/or manage competitive procurements (i.e. materials and equipment, vendor and/or contractor selection, contract development, acquisition planning, etc.).
  • Initiate or collaborate in writing research papers and technical presentations.
  • Develop and oversee UHV material preparation and test facilities, such as cleaning plants, bake ovens and test chambers, which prepare and qualify scientific components for installation in UHV systems.
  • Serve as a line supervisor for members of the Hanford vacuum group and potentially others who work in related functions.
  • Other duties as may be required and assigned.

Basic Qualifications

  • BS in Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical or Systems Engineering; Physics; Material  Science; or a related scientific or engineering field.
  • 8 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.
  • Proficiency in application and interpretation of spectra from residual gas analyzers.
  • Experience in application of helium mass‐spectrometer leak detection (MSLD) apparatus.
  • 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.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Supervisory experience. Experience of leading a team and conducting related management responsibilities.
  • Experience related to industrial automation as applied to large-scale vacuum systems.
  • 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.
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) proficiency (SolidWorks™ preferred).

Required Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume

COVID-19 Vaccine Required for All Employees

Caltech has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy effective October 15, 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees (with Institute-approved exemptions for religious or medical contraindications only). At present, an individual is deemed “fully vaccinated” when that person has received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson). Upon eligibility, employees are required to receive the COVID-19 booster as part of the vaccine mandate. As a condition of employment, employees must submit official COVID-19 vaccine documentation. More information may be found here.

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

 Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at employment@caltech.edu