Systems 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 Hardware Systems Engineer to support development of the Survey Data System for NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor mission and in parallel, to support data processing operations at the Euclid NASA Science Center (ENSCI).

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. For more details, see Euclid is a European Space Agency (ESA) space mission with NASA participation, to study the geometry and nature of the dark Universe. Euclid will carry out a six-year survey of a third of the sky in the optical and near-infrared. It will measure galaxies out to distances corresponding to a look-back time of ~10 billion years. Euclid was launched on July 1, 2023. For more details, see

IPAC is building the NEO Surveyor Survey Data System (NSDS) that will ingest raw data from the flight system, process those data into calibrated image and source detection products, perform automated searches for moving solar system objects, assess the quality of the survey data, and distribute data products to NASA archives, the Minor Planet Center, and user community. NASA also established the Euclid NASA Science Center at IPAC (ENSCI) in order to support US-based investigations using Euclid data. ENSCI participates in the Euclid Consortium’s Science Ground Segment, providing algorithm and software development, participating in data quality assurance, and performing data processing. In addition, ENSCI will support the US research community by providing expert insight into the Euclid surveys, data processing, calibration, and products.

We are seeking a Hardware Systems Engineer to assist in the development and maintenance of the data processing infrastructures for the NEO Surveyor and Euclid missions. This will include procuring, managing, configuring, and tuning all hardware (compute clusters, network, disks systems, and file servers) at IPAC used to support these missions, as well as managing and monitoring data storage.

Essential Job Duties

As Hardware Systems Engineer, you will work with the NSDS and ENSCI System Architects, Developers, Scientists, and the IPAC Systems Engineering group to:

  • Support the design, procurement, and deployment of hardware system components according to data processing, networking, and data storage requirements.
  • Maintain, monitor, and optimize overall data processing and storage systems, both during development and operations.
  • Advise on optimal data processing methodologies and/or storage strategies in the production hardware system as well as interfaces with other IPAC systems, for example, the long-term archives.
  • Provide consultation and assistance to software developers and scientists on best use of resources.
  • Coordinate and plan hardware updates and/or operating system upgrades, particularly over the lifetime of each mission.
  • Perform basic system administration tasks: managing user accounts and disk usage, applying patches, installing commercial software and tools, monitoring resources during development and operations.
  • Collaborate with other IPAC system engineers 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 and ENSCI hardware and data storage systems.

Basic Qualifications 

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Information Technology, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related discipline.
  • At least 5 years of relevant experience in designing and maintaining hardware systems to support data processing and storage.
  • At least 5 years of experience in system administration and support.
  • Experience with scripting.
  • Ability to write and maintain documentation on maintenance procedures.

Preferred Qualifications

Besides these basic qualifications, there are a set of skills and experience that will enhance your contributions to this role. 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. 

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux administration.
  • Configuration management with Ansible.
  • Experience in managing large datasets (tens of Terabytes daily, Petabytes long term).
  • High-Performance Computing (particularly with SLURM).
  • Managing Ceph storage.
  • Networking and security experience (particularly Arista & Palo Alto).
  • Experience with software containerization and deployment technologies, such as Docker and Kubernetes.

Required Documents

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

Application Deadline: October 6, 2023. Applications accepted via the Caltech site only. 

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.

Hiring Range

$46.00 - $58.50 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 Sep 01
Application Deadline
2023 Oct 06