Lead Build Engineer

Job Summary

Science Engineering
AURA/Vera C. Rubin Observatory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement
In-Person Location(s)

Tucson, AZ
United States

Job Description

NSF’s NOIRLab is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. The mission of NOIRLab is to enable breakthrough discoveries in astrophysics by developing and operating state-of-the-art ground-based observatories and providing data products and services for a diverse and inclusive community. NOIRLab operates as a matrix organization, providing services across a range of programs: Gemini, Rubin, MSO (CTIO and KPNO), and CSDC; with approximately 400 employees at facilities in three geographic locations: Arizona, Hawai’i, and Chile.

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction in Chile, is an 8.4 m telescope designed to conduct an imaging survey over much of the southern sky repeatedly over a 10-year period.  The data from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory will be unprecedented in scale and sensitivity to faint objects and will enable a wide range of science including exploration of the Time Domain. The sky survey from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory is sure to fundamentally change how humanity perceives and understands the Universe in which we live. 

Vera C. Rubin Observatory is searching for a Lead Build Engineer with a devops outlook. The build engineer would lead the Build Engineering team within the Data Abstraction group. This is a chance to join one of the largest open source projects in astronomy and be part of the team that will enable characterizing dark energy, the hunt for dark matter, all manner of transients and countless as yet to be discovered astronomical phenomena!

Essential Functions:

The Lead Build Engineer is responsible for the build/test/deploy chain of the LSST Science Pipelines, one of the largest open-source codebases in astronomy. On a day-to-day basis this involves maintaining the continuous integration environment, from the builds of the science pipelines to the production of containers suitable for deployment in a variety of production environments, from the telescope summit to the Rubin Observatory Science Platform.

Longer term, this position involves leading the team to develop, and where necessary re-architect, the packaging of the codebase for our scientific community, and lowering the technical barriers to adoption.

In this role, you will:

  • Be a core contributor to the effort to make the LSST Science Pipelines a well-tested, well-packaged, widely distributed open-source software environment for ground-based optical survey imaging.
  • Design and implement CI/CD tooling to maximize robustness, minimize developer wait times, and improve release turnaround times.
  • Ensure that our software integrates as well as possible with other popular open source astronomical environments such as AstroPy, Conda-forge, etc, upstreaming changes to those packages when necessary.
  • Suggest and, where agreed, help implement, internal developer guide evolutions to keep the codebase current; past completed examples of these activities include the migration from Python 2 to Python 3 and the documentation format change to NumpyDoc.
  • Instrument the CI/CD chain to publish metrics to our metrics curation system.
  • Work with the build team to troubleshoot build failures, monitor their occurrence and feed any insights to future development of the test/CI/CD chain.
  • Work with the pipelines team to improve tooling for official releases (such as changelog management) and coordinate with them on release schedules.
  • Work with the Rubin Science Platform team to improve the docker container CI/CD chain.
  • Work with the Campaign Management team to leverage the processing system for enhanced CI testing.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

This role requires 7 years of experience working with modern software release management systems (e.g. GitHub actions) and tools including continuous integration (e.g. Jenkins) and software deployment (e.g. Docker containers) as well as demonstratable Python knowledge including an excellent grasp of Python packaging and distribution especially in the presence of C++ libraries, and a grasp of high level architectures and low level implementation of potential build systems.. Rubin has a base layer of C++ code beneath Python interfaces. There are over 1 million lines of code to be packaged and tested. Knowledge of Jenkins, Github Actions, Docker(Hub|Compose) and Kubernetes will be helpful.

To effectively contribute to the project, you’ll need to be able to work with minimal direction given good documentation. We are looking for someone with an aptitude for detail-oriented work who has excellent verbal and written communication skills.  You’ll be managing your own and other’s work through ticketing systems so you’ll need excellent trouble-shooting and record-keeping skills.

We would prefer candidates who have a degree in computer science, physics or astronomy and familiarity with one or more of: Astropy; python and its ecosystem (e.g. Jupyter Notebooks); puppet or similar system configuration management frameworks; Terraform. Service toward diversity, equity and inclusion will be taken favorably.

This position requires access to Rubin data and software in use at the Rubin US Data Facility (USDF). As such, a USDF account is required and must be obtained within six months of start date.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The work is mostly carried out in an office environment.  Long periods of sitting or standing at a desk and computer usage may be required.
  • Some travel may be necessary in or outside the contiguous United States.

Salary Range: $ 112,646 to $169,866. The final salary will depend on skills, qualifications, experience and job location. 

Our preference is for this position to be based in Tucson, Arizona; however, any NOIRLab/Rubin locations (i.e. La Serena, Chile) and remote work locations in the US states that AURA operates in: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. will be considered. 

AURA offers an excellent benefits package including paid time off and retirement plan contributions, competitive salary commensurate with experience, and a very attractive work environment. Details on benefits can be found at https://hr.aura-astronomy.org/employee-benefits-guide/

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

The position will remain open until it is filled. To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by May 17th, 2024.

  • Please submit a cover letter and a CV or resume, PDF files preferred. Please name any attachments with the following format: Lastname Docname. 
  • Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to [email protected].
  • Please enter 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process). 

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at [email protected]

Compensation and Benefits


Application Details

Application Instructions
Please Apply Online
Publication Start Date
2024 May 06
Application Deadline
2024 May 17