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Job Title:
Engineering Technician (Lab Coordinator), IS-0802, Grade 9; $61,268 - $79,650 annually
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION:   Open to all qualified candidates with U.S. Citizenship or U.S. Permanent Resident status.


This position is in the Central Engineering Lab, at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) asks the big science questions, including:
What happened in the early universe?
What do black holes look like?
How do stars and planets form and evolve?
Does life exist outside the solar system?

At the SAO, scientists, engineers, and technical staff work collaboratively to build instrumentation that will get us closer to answering these questions. From worldwide telescope arrays that can image black holes to space missions studying solar emissions, this is truly a fantastic place to work – full of opportunities and challenges for staff united by a common science vision. This position is located in Cambridge Mass.

The Engineering Tech (Lab Coordinator) is responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of SAO’s lab spaces, tools, and specialized equipment at its Cambridge Discovery Park facility. They ensure that lab spaces and equipment are used efficiently, effectively, and safely on a variety of projects while working with a diverse group of engineers, scientists, administrators, machinists, and technicians. The successful candidate is expected to have daily interaction with technical staff and will be required to think quickly to identify problems, and to prevent such issues from affecting project schedules.

1. The Engineering Tech will be responsible to ensures that all CE lab space is organized, clean, and safe for all project stakeholders. Performs and arranges for all required laboratory maintenance including the replacement, service, and repair of air compressors, overhead cranes, air filter/dryer systems, clean room filtration systems, lighting, and compressed gas cylinders. Maintains and configures the general laboratory environment using cranes, pallet jacks, and other material handling equipment.
2. Enhances laboratory productivity by planning, tracking and organizing the use of lab space and equipment in both the near and long-term. Maintains a current and accurate status log of CE lab usage, tools, and equipment.
3. Creates and maintains lab records and coordinates equipment calibration and service for all specialized equipment including Coordinate Measuring Machines, Theodolites, lasers, environmental test equipment, vacuum systems, and an assortment of QA, inspection, & metrology instruments.

4. Keeps all lab assembly tools and equipment in good working order and assigns them to projects as needed. Arranges for tool and equipment repair and replacement, as necessary. Determines future equipment needs and prepares justifications for purchase; orders materials and tooling; maintains records.
5. Ensure safe operating conditions; monitors and maintains the use and storage of chemical solvents and chemical waste (i.e. Isopropanol, Acetone, and other chemical solvents, epoxies, RTV, and other adhesives). Enforces SAO CE safety and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards, as required.
6. Establishes lab policies and protocols in conjunction with the Engineers and the SAO Safety Officer; overseeing safety on site in laboratories; and serving as primary contact with external vendors.


One year of full-time experience at the GS-8 or equivalent that is close or similar to the work of this position. 

Basic Requirements:

Specialized Experience

Examples of qualifying specialized experience include technical work in: drafting, surveying construction estimating, physical science, mathematics, aerospace, architecture, chemicals, electrical or mechanical systems, mining, petroleum, or nuclear systems.

Experience in a trade or craft may be credited as specialized experience when the work provided intensive knowledge of engineering principles, techniques, methods, and precedents. Examples are trade positions with substantial developmental, test, or design responsibilities such as:

  • Planner and estimator who analyzed designs for production purposes.
  • Instrument maker or model maker who performed design or development work on devices fabricated.

Education: Graduate education or an internship meets the specialized experience only in those instances where it is directly related to the work of the position. Two full years of graduate education or a master's degree meets the requirements for GS-9.

Equivalent combinations of successfully completed graduate education and experience are also qualifying.

For information on qualification requirements, see

 Application Procedures:  We are only accepting online applications for this position. To apply please visit USAJOBS 

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website