Mechanical Technician

Full time Regular Employment at Gemini Observatory

Category: Engineering

Location: Summit

Open date: Monday, October 31, 2022

Closing date: Until filled



We are seeking a Mechanical Technician to be part of the Mechanical Engineering (ME) group of NOIRLab Engineering Services (ES), an inter-continentally distributed team of 40 mechanical engineers and technicians providing excellence in the design, construction, commissioning and maintenance of all mechanical and physical plant equipment at the telescopes including observatories’ instrumentation, and the operation of machine shops. This is a unique opportunity to work in an international, collaborative environment and to participate in a wide variety of projects.

The Mechanical Technician maintains and supports facilities and telescope mechanical systems for the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea.


Essential Functions:

Performs preventative maintenance and corrective maintenance of telescope systems: chilled water, compressed air, hydrostatic bearing oil pumping, gaseous helium system, domestic water system, air handling, exhaust fans, and enclosure systems. May perform ice and snow removal from the enclosure and facility

Works with design engineers to assemble, test, trouble-shoot, and maintain observatory mechanical systems.

Maintains inventory spares on plumbing, mechanical equipment, and hardware.

Works with the Mechanical Engineering Group to troubleshoot and correct problems on mechanical systems that occur during nighttime operations.

Provide mechanical support for engineering periods and telescope upgrades.

Support other day crew groups with instrument changes, parts fabrication, machining, or modifications. May perform ice and snow removal from the enclosure and facility

Cooperate and coordinate closely with other personnel involved with assigned projects or processes.

Comply with applicable safety standards and ensure safety of operations in areas under purview; correct and/or report unsafe conditions and practices.

Demonstrate for all audiences a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

All AURA employees are responsible for the proper management and control of all AURA property within their work area, whether assigned to them or someone else. This responsibility includes reporting any known missing, stolen, or non-working property in their work area to their supervisor or the AURA Property Officer.

Responsible for ensuring compliance with government award terms and conditions assigned to this position or subordinates of this position as defined in the Vela Award Management system

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

Accredited technical degree in mechanics or equivalent experience.

Five years previous experience maintaining large mechanical equipment, with some plumbing and mechanical fabrication experience desirable.

Must be a good problem solver.

Must be a good listener and willing to ask questions.

Must demonstrate dexterity, safety, and attention to detail.

Full English oral, reading and writing fluency

Ability to work effectively in an interdisciplinary and diverse international environment as a committed team member

Possess some knowledge of PC based computer programs

Must be able to work effectively at heights and at high altitude.

Must possess a valid State of Hawai’i driver’s license and a clean driving record and be able to drive a 4-WD vehicle.

Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

Basic welding and cutting.

Machining skills.

Industrial plumbing skills.

Aligning motors to pumps and fans.

Operating lifting equipment.

Previous telescope work experience.

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.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.

The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.

The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.

Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.

Must possess - sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.

Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.

Must possess sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) grasp, push, pull, turn or otherwise manipulate tools and mechanisms; b) push, shove, pull or otherwise safely and efficiently manipulate tools or mechanisms; c) lift, hold, maneuver, objects of 50 lbs or more; d) maintain balance while performing work; e) remove parts, systems, tools of 50 lbs or more.

Some travel may be necessary in or outside the contiguous United States.

Maunakea: Must be able to sit for long periods of time; be able to drive a 4-WD vehicle and possess a clean driving record; ability to work at 14,000’ in a cold environment for 10 hour shifts. Longer shifts and working during inclement weather occasionally required. Required to pass High Altitude medical examination (post offer and at specified intervals while employed).

Additional Information

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

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.

At NOIRLab we are committed to diversity and inclusion; our managing organization, AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, 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

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates.

Please list 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process) and attach: 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

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

The position will remain open until filled. To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by October 21, 2022.

COVID-19 Policy Update: AURA has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy that requires all employees to be vaccinated including being up to date on boosters, unless qualified for an exemption based on medical or religious reasons. All new employees will be required to comply with this policy and will be required to present proof of full vaccination or submit a completed request (including supporting documents, if applicable) for an exemption at least five (5) business days prior to their start of employment. Individuals who fail to meet this deadline may have their employment start date delayed.

This is a requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule). Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s NOIRLab, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

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. arm

Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities

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)

About Gemini Observatory

The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1-meter diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on the planet. From their locations on mountains in Hawai‘i and Chile, Gemini Observatory's telescopes can collectively access the entire sky.

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See all available opportunities with Gemini Observatory.

The Gemini Observatory consists of twin 8.1-meter diameter optical/infrared telescopes located on two of the best observing sites on the planet. From their locations on mountains in Hawai‘i and Chile, Gemini Observatory's telescopes can collectively access the entire sky.