Software Project Director

Job Summary

Science Engineering
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a diverse, exciting, and prestigious research facility that plays a vital role in the study of the universe. The Observatory operates a variety of radio telescopes that span the globe, including the famous Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. These telescopes are among the most advanced in the world, allowing astronomers to explore the universe in unprecedented detail.

The NRAO is developing a Data Processing System to meet the challenges of the next generation of radio interferometers. The primary objective of this project is to develop a system that supports production of high-quality science ready data products for the enhanced ALMA telescope and the next generation VLA. The secondary objective is to support the continued evolution of radio astronomy data processing through a widely accessible package enabling specialization and innovation at facilities and universities.

We are seeking a Software Project Director to be responsible for overseeing the definition, planning, commissioning and delivery into operations of the new Data Processing System. The Project Director will to refine the requirements and deliverables, updating priorities and tracking progress, as well as providing oversight of the activity and organizing and defining the software acceptance process. The Director works closely with the Project Management office and the assigned Project Manager to ensure that the project is conducted in accordance with observatory policy and procedures and is accountable for the programmatic aspects of the project include schedule and budget. The Project Director is responsible for defining, communicating, and negotiating the vision of the project with stakeholders.

The Project is currently progressing to a Conceptual Design Review (CDR) and is anticipated to complete this milestone prior to the onboarding of the Project Director. The initial focus of the Project Director will be to lead the project through a successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR). Key responsibilities in this phase are:

  • Developing a sustainable model of stakeholder engagement reconciling the needs of the various stakeholders within a unified project plan and establishing processes for maintenance and modification of the plan.
  • Overseeing the technical design and down selection process, including prototyping activities in support of system validation.
  • Refining the project execution plan, increasing the detail and fidelity of the schedule and cost estimates and in conjunction with the DMS management team defining and implementing the development process.
  • Work with science operations to define an iterative software delivery and acceptance process for the construction and operations phases of the project.

During the implementation phase of the Project the Director will ensure scientific requirements are available to the development team(s), monitor progress and adjust to evolving requirements or priorities, coordinate the acceptance and delivery process, and ensure communication and coordination between the DPS Project, the ngVLA and ALMA-WSU projects, and the broader stakeholder community.

The preferred location for the position can be based at headquarters in Charlottesville, VA; at the Domenici Array Operations Center in Socorro, New Mexico; or at the NRAO office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A domestic telework or remote work arrangement may be considered based on applicant qualifications.

Who You Are:

  • You have a PhD in astronomy or astronomical computing
  • You have at least 5 years of experience in astronomy and data analysis, reduction of data from interferometer systems.
  • While not required, you may have experience:
    • Planning and/or management of substantial software projects, interaction and management of complex and demanding stakeholder groups, and the development and delivery of complex scientific software.
    • Experience with high performance or high throughput computing application design and operation.

A scientific staff appointment may be considered for qualified applicants.

Application Instructions:

For more information and to apply for this position, please visit the careers link. Please be prepared to upload your current CV/Resume and a cover letter describing interest and suitability for the position.

Equal Opportunity Employer Statement:

AUI is an equal opportunity employer. Women, Minorities, Vietnam-Era Veterans, Disabled Veterans, Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities are encouraged to apply. To view our complete statement, please visit If you require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process due to a disability, you may submit your request by sending an email to [email protected].

Compensation and Benefits

Included Benefits

The NRAO offers a comprehensive total rewards package for this position, subject to eligibility requirements. We are committed to serving our employees and their families with an extensive and competitive compensation and benefits package that supports our employees’ overall well-being and career growth.

NRAO’s benefits package addresses the needs of employees and their families with most benefits beginning on the first day of employment. NRAO provides excellent paid time off (13 holidays, annual accrual of up to 24 vacation days and 15 sick days, additional time off for doctor/dentist visits, and 8 weeks of paid parental leave). Medical, dental and vision plans are effective on the first day of employment. NRAO’s retirement benefit contributes an amount equal to 10 percent of a qualified participant’s base pay with no required employee contribution; we also offer an optional supplemental, tax-deferred plan for employee retirement contributions.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2024 Feb 15
Application Deadline
2024 Mar 15
Reference Code


Jeff Kern