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Requisition Number 17-0164
Post Date 8/2/2017
Title Software Systems Engineer
City Tucson
State AZ

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) operates several observatory centers (including the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Solar Observatory and the Gemini Observatory) in the United States and Chile under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation (NSF). AURA also has cooperative agreements with the NSF to construct the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

LSST is a planned, large-aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope that will survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands. It will explore a wide range of astrophysical questions, ranging from discovering “killer” asteroids, to examining the nature of dark energy. The project includes an 8-meter class wide field telescope, a 3.2 gigapixel camera with 2-second readout, and a state-of-the-art petascale data management system to process, archive, and distribute the 15 TB of data produced every night. LSST Construction is underway, having started an 8-year effort in July 2014. LSST is a single project funded by both the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. Once completed, the LSST will be the largest and most modern optical survey project ever built.

The LSST Data Management (DM) system is being constructed by a team of 65+ members residing at partner institutions across the United States, Europe and Chile. It will include a data processing system spanning two continents, new state-of-the-art image processing algorithms, petascale computing clusters with tens of thousands of cores, large distributed databases, and next-generation analysis toolkits, among others. All LSST DM code is intended to be open source software (GPL v3), written primarily in modern Python and C++.

LSST DM is soliciting Software Systems Engineer applications for the LSST DM Configuration Manager, a position in the DM Architecture Group at the LSST Project Office (Headquarters) in Tucson, AZ. The Architecture Team is responsible for creation, maintenance, dissemination, and ensuring adherence to a common, consistent system architecture for the DM products. The DM products as a whole, comprise of a large codebase spread over 200+ repositories ( and include scientific code, processing middleware, advanced database technologies and visualization.

The Configuration Manager will report to the DM Project Manager and will coordinate with the DM Systems Engineer, the DM Validation Scientist, the DM Technical Managers and the DM Science Quality and Reliability Engineering team to prepare for large scale operations rehearsals demonstrating system operational readiness. Readiness will include ensuring DM teams have adequate test specifications cross-referenced with requirements, have carried out the required tests associated with a particular operational rehearsal's demonstration of capabilities, that major software releases are tested on all supported platforms offered to science users and that they have the appropriate characterization reports and other release documentation. In addition, this person will ensure that test specifications are consistent with documented requirements, manage change requests and produce material for internal and external reviews summarizing operational readiness.


  • Familiarity with software version control systems (ideally git).
  • Minimum of 3 years of experience working with modern software release management systems (e.g. gitflow) and tools including continuous integration (e.g. Jenkins) and software deployment (eg. Docker containers).
  • Fluency in Unix operating systems and build tools (e.g. cmake).
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • An aptitude for detail-oriented work.
  • Ability to manage their own and other's work through ticketing systems (e.g. JIRA).
  • Ability to work effectively with minimal direction given good documentation.
  • Familiarity with system modelling tools (e.g. Magic Draw).
  • Excellent trouble-shooting and record-keeping skills.

The ideal candidate will furthermore:

  • have a track record of working in large geographically distributed projects
  • have worked in large scientific projects
  • a degree or equivalent experience in the physical sciences or computer science
  • experience with astronomical observatory operations
  • familiarity with python and its ecosystem (e.g. Jupyter Notebooks)
  • familiarity with puppet or similar system configuration management frameworks
  • familiarity with LaTex

The position is for the duration of LSST construction (3 years), with the potential for continuation into Commissioning and Survey Operations if funding permits. Starting salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Included Benefits: AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits.

Please list 3 professional references in your application. Please attach a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, list of publications, and a brief statement of relevant experience (PDF Files preferred) to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: 17-0164LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to

Application reviews will begin immediately, and continue through August 31, 2017 or until the position is filled.

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements which are included for protection and to assist us in our recordkeeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

Preference granted to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation.

  • Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Please view Equal Employment Opportunity Posters provided by OFCCP here.
  • The contractor will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with the contractor's legal duty to furnish information. 41 CFR 60-1.35(c)
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