Telescope Senior Systems Engineer

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project has been established to design, build and eventually operate an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) with a primary mirror diameter of 30 meters. ELT’s will be the successors of the present day 8-10 meter world class telescopes. When complete the TMT will be the largest ground based optical/infrared telescope in the world providing the capability to study exciting astronomical problems from the nature of extra-solar planets to the first stars in the universe.    An international collaboration consisting of the University of California, the California Institute of Technology, Canada, Japan, India and China has been formed to deliver this exciting project.

The TMT project recently entered construction and will be completed and ready for science operations in 2027.  The TMT project office is located in Pasadena, CA, USA. The design and build of the various telescope systems will be distributed amongst the TMT partner institutions, collaborators, industry, and the Project Office.

Job Summary

The TMT International Observatory is a non-profit corporation managing the development and construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, an extremely large optical-infrared telescope to be built by an international partnership consisting of the California Institute of Technology, Canada, China, India, Japan, and the University of California. For more information, please see

The TMT Telescope Department includes the Optics, Structures and Controls groups.  Reporting to the Telescope Department Manager and working closely with the Systems Engineering Group, the Telescope Senior Systems Engineer will be responsible for ensuring the Telescope optical, structural, mechanical and control systems work together as an integrated system that will meet all its requirements.  The Telescope Senior Systems Engineer will oversee the systems engineering processes for all the subsystems of the Telescope.

Job Duties 

The Telescope Senior Systems Engineer will have the following department-wide responsibilities:

  • Work closely with the project Systems Engineering Group
  • Represent the Telescope Dept. on the Change Control Board
  • Lead development of common standards for the Telescope subsystems
  • Coordinate modeling performed by the Controls, Optics and Structures groups to ensure consistency of assumptions, etc.
  • Lead development of the Telescope initial alignment process
  • Coordinate development of the active optics Telescope Optical Feedback System
  • Lead development of the Telescope Global Metrology System
  • Lead development of the thermal pointing compensation system
  • Oversee  systems engineering of the Telescope Utility Services
  • Interact with other project groups including: Facilities, Enclosure, Instrumentation, Adaptive Optics, Observatory Software and Science staff
  • Present status reports and presentations to project management
  • Ensure that Telescope systems engineering activities are consistent with project systems engineering processes and standards
  • Represent TMT through involvement with professional organizations and presentations to international conferences

The Telescope Senior Systems Engineer will have the following responsibilities relative to the subsystems of the Telescope:

  • Support subsystem teams, including teams in partner countries, in preparation and updating of systems engineering documentation, including: performance and resource budgets, requirements documents, interface control documents, configuration index documents, etc.
  • Participate in development of software requirements and interfaces for the various Telescope Control systems
  • Ensure subsystem requirements are flowed down properly from observatory level requirements
  • Support development of subsystem design review plans
  • Participate in subsystem design reviews
  • Lead the checking of subsystem compliance with requirements
  • Lead the verification planning for the subsystems
  • Coordinate development of subsystem QA plans, failure mode analyses, reliability prediction reports, hazard analyses, and risk registers
  • Participate in planning of factory acceptance testing
  • Participate in planning for on-site assembly, verification and integration

Minimum Requirements 

  • Graduate degree (Masters or PhD) plus 10 years of experience, or bachelor degree plus 12 years of experience in engineering (systems, optical, mechanical, structural or electrical) or physics 
  • Knowledge of large-project systems engineering processes
  • Knowledge of performance modeling and analysis methods for astronomical telescopes
  • Experience in applying systems engineering processes to the development of complex imaging systems
  • Experience in writing and maintaining requirements and interface documents
  • Experience integrating complex high performance hardware and software systems,
  • Knowledge of real-time control systems
  • Knowledge of optomechanical design principles
  • The project office is located in Pasadena, and residence in the area is required.
  • International travel to visit subsystem teams within the US, Canada, China, India and Japan will be necessary

Other Desired Capabilities and Experience
The candidate should have many of the following:

  • Experience taking a complex, multi-disciplinary project from initial design through completion, including: assessing production readiness; factory acceptance testing; integration and commissioning
  • Experience with the design, construction and operation of large, ground-based astronomical observatories
  • Experience in overseeing systems engineering work by remote teams
  • Experience working with international partners
  • Experience in technical contract management
  • Experience with CAD systems for mechanical design; familiarity with SolidWorks is preferred
  • Familiarity with engineering data analysis and associated tools such as Matlab
  • Familiarity with requirements management tools such as DOORS
  • Familiarity with programming tools and object oriented languages
  • Familiarity with geometrical optics and optical design, analysis and testing
  • Familiarity with optical fabrication, alignment, and metrology
  • Familiarity with finite-element-analysis of integrated system structural, thermal, and optical performance
  • Familiarity with high performance low-noise detector and sensor readout electronics and systems
  • Familiarity with electrical engineering and utility power systems
  • Fluency in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese or Hindi is a positive factor

Required personal qualities and abilities 

  • Ability to efficiently organize work and work independently
  • Analytical approach to problem solving
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to write clear and concise technical documents
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Proven leadership ability
  • Ability to work as part of a team on a large, distributed project
  • Ability to multi-task a substantial number of parallel activities

TMT International Observatory, LLC is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, Minorities, Veterans and Disabled Persons are encouraged to apply.

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