Smithsonian Institution Computer Engineer in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Smithsonian Institution
1 vacancy in the following location:
  • Cambridge, MA
Work Schedule is Full Time - . Career/Career-Conditional.

Opened Tuesday 9/27/2016 (28 day(s) ago)

** Closes Monday 12/5/2016 (41 day(s) away)

Job Overview

About the Agency

The Submillimeter Array (SMA), located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, is a pioneering radio-interferometer designed for astronomical observations in the major submillimeter atmospheric windows. Its eight antennas are equipped with superconducting mixer receivers operating in the 200, 300 and 400 GHz frequency bands.

Current developments are underway to enhance the sensitivity of the SMA by increasing the bandwidth of the receivers, augmenting the data transmission system, replacing the digital correlator with wider bandwidth, more compact, and lower power equipment, and by extending its full dual polarization capability. The SMA’s real-time computers run on LynxOS, a POSIX-conformant real-time operating system and the other online systems run Linux.


Duties may include but are not limited to:

Playing a leading role in writing software to enhance the SMA's observing efficiency, and to add additional observing modes.

Assisting in the transition of the SMA from the proprietary LynxOS system to the open source Linux operating system.

Debugging complex multithreaded realtime software.

Writing and maintaining device drivers for commercial and custom hardware.

Writing and maintaining regression test suites for realtime and offline SMA software

Travel Required
  • Occasional Travel
  • Travel nationally and internationally may be required in support of duties
Relocation Authorized
  • No
Job Requirements
Key Requirements
  • May be required to serve a one-year probationary period
  • Pre- and post-appointment background investigation
  • Must participate in Direct Deposit/Electronic Funds for salary payment
  • May be required to work at high altitude in various weather conditions
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with Selective Service.
  • BASIC REQUIREMENTS: (A) Degree: professional engineering. To be acceptable, the curriculum must: (1) be in a school of engineering with at least one curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum; or

(2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics. OR (B) Combination of education and experience--college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering.

In addition to the Basic Requirements, applicants must meet the following:

One year of professional experience equivalent in difficulty and responsibility to grade 12 level work in the Federal service within or closely related to the position being filled. Specialized experience for this position would typically include writing a large portion of the software suite controlling a large scientific instrument, working with scientists to plan hardware and software upgrades for such a system, and implement a regression test suite to maintain software integrity.

This position has a mandatory education requirement; you must furnish a copy of your transcript of college work completed (unofficial copy is acceptable) or a copy of your degree certificate. Non-submission may result in you being rated ineligible for the position.

Applicants must meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of this announcement.

Important Note: Your resume and supporting documentation will be compared to your responses to the occupational questionnaire or other assessment tool for consistency. If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your resume, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience. Your resume should provide detailed information regarding how your education and experience relate to this position, including the major duties and qualifications criteria listed.

Basic qualification requirements can be found at and

Security Clearance

Public Trust - Background Investigation

Additional Information
What To Expect Next

You will receive an e-mail to acknowledge that your application has been received. Please be aware that the confirmation e-mail could reside in your "junk" or "bulk" mail folder depending on your filters. The Smithsonian receives many applications for each job. Each application is reviewed carefully which may take a few weeks. We will send you an e-mail to update you as we go through phases of the application review process. You may also check your application status by logging into and selecting the tab "My USAJOBS;" e-mailing; or by contacting the Office of Human Resources Representative listed.


Review our benefits

Other Information

Additional Information:

  • The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses.
  • A recruitment bonus may be paid.
  • The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity.

Salary Range: $92,448.00 to $120,187.00 / Per Year

Series & Grade: GS-0854-13/13

Promotion Potential: 13

Supervisory Status: No

Who May Apply: This position is open to all U.S. Citizens or U.S. Nationals Note: Federal employees with permanent status or individuals eligible for special appointing authorities may also apply to Job Announcement 16-60.

Control Number: 451766900

Job Announcement Number: 16-61