Database Engineer

Job Summary

Scientific / Technical Staff
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.

Job Summary

IPAC at Caltech invites applications for a Database Engineer to join the team that is developing the Survey Data System for NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor mission. 

IPAC, part of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech, is a dedicated team of scientists, engineers, and administrative personnel who provide science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to maximize discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground. NEO Surveyor is a Planetary Defense mission, scheduled to launch in 2027, that is optimized to detect, track, and characterize solar system small bodies that pose a potential risk to the Earth. NEO Surveyor consists of a passively cooled 50 cm telescope located at Sun-Earth L1 equipped with a wide-field camera that will image the sky simultaneously in two mid-infrared bands. NEO Surveyor will detect approximately 100,000 Main Belt asteroids, NEOs, and comets each day against a background of tens of millions of distant stars and galaxies.

IPAC is building the NEO Surveyor Survey Data System (NSDS) that ingests imaging and engineering data from the flight system, processes those data into calibrated image and source detection products, performs automated searches for moving solar system objects, assesses the quality of the survey data, and distributes data products to NASA archives, the Minor Planet Center (MPC), and the user community. The NSDS is planning to store quality assurance metrics, survey metadata, statistics, as well as measurements of identified moving solar system objects in relational databases. These databases will interface with the NSDS Quality Assurance Subsystem and Moving Object Detection Pipeline (MODP) to enable analyses of survey performance and the bookkeeping of moving object metadata delivered to the MPC.

Job Duties

As Database Engineer, you will work with the NSDS Lead Solar System Scientist, System Architect, Quality Assurance software engineer, and the IPAC Systems Engineering group to:

  • Support in the development and implementation of database schemas for deployment to the NSDS Pipeline Operations system.
  • Provide consultation and assistance to applications developers regarding performance or functionality needs; advise on proposed system changes, upgrades, and optimization of queries to serve specific functions.
  • Tune database servers as needed based on access patterns and system limits.
  • Perform basic database administration tasks. For example, managing backups, restoring content from possible failures, vacuuming expired objects, performing client and server software updates, logging, and monitoring health of databases.
  • Collaborate with other IPAC database developers and administrators to share methods and tools across other projects, and to consult on solutions to problems.
  • Write and maintain documentation on procedures and recipes for managing the NSDS Operations databases.

Basic Qualifications  

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in computer science, database design & administration, or related discipline.
  • At least 5 years of relevant experience in designing, implementing, and administering relational database management systems.
  • Experience with PostgreSQL database administration.
  • Experience with transactional database engines.
  • Experience with scripting and programming languages.
  • Ability to write and maintain documentation on procedures, recipes, and updates.

Preferred Qualifications

Besides these basic qualifications, there are a set of skills and experience that will enhance your contributions as the NSDS Database Engineer. The following might give you a head start, but even if these don’t describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you.

  • Experience maintaining database-related server and client software, including user accounts and roles.
  • Ability to perform regression testing following all database software, operating system, and hardware upgrades.
  • Optimization of database structures and/or queries according to use cases.
  • Familiarity with using database performance monitoring tools, vacuuming (periodic refreshes according to scheduled maintenance), and backup / replication strategies.
  • Experience managing extremely large datasets.
  • Experience with parallel and/or non-relational database technologies.

 Required Documents

  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Names and Contact information of 3 professional references.

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting professional relationships. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

Application Deadline: September 15, 2023

Applications accepted via the Caltech website only. 

Hiring Range

$54.00 - $61.25 Per Hour

The salary of the finalist(s) selected for this role will be set based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, internal equity, experience, education, specialty and training.

As one of the largest employers in Pasadena, CA, Caltech is committed to providing comprehensive benefits to eligible employees and their eligible dependents. Our benefits package includes competitive compensation, health, dental, and vision insurance, retirement savings plans, generous paid time off (vacation, holidays, sick time, parental leave, bereavement, etc.), tuition reimbursement, and more. Non-benefit eligible employees will have access to some benefits such as onsite counseling and sick time. Learn more about our benefits and staff perks

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 [email protected]

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Aug 15
Application Deadline
2023 Sep 15