Real Time Software Engineer (Developer)

  Date of publication
  Deadline for applications
  Minimum qualifications:
  • Bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering or equivalent work experience.
  • Good knowledge of modern software engineering practices, especially in the areas of software re-use and testability.
  • Knowledge of C and other comparable languages used for real-time work.
  • Knowledge of Python or other comparable scripting language.
  Salary range
Please refer to position link


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 National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NSF's OIR Lab) is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. The mission of NSF's OIR Lab 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.

This time, the NSF's OIR Lab is seeking a Real Time Software Engineer (Developer), whom will be under the general supervision of the Computer Applications Group Manager. This position develops and maintains computer software applications and related documentation and provides support for the control and operation of telescopes and astronomical instruments at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). The ideal candidate should be a motivated, self-starter who can manage multiple projects and priorities; also, the job holder is expected to have sound knowledge of software programming.

Tasks and activities

Essential Functions:

  • Under general supervision, designs, develops, debugs, and maintains software code, documentation, and operator instructions that support the following applications: real time instrument and telescope control, user interfaces, hardware testing, data acquisition, and data display.
  • Communicates with the scientist, manager, or committee that is providing the technical oversight for the application.
  • Identifies requirements that the software application must satisfy and translates them into software design requirements. Conducts requirements reviews.
  • Performs system administrative tasks and minor hardware maintenance.
  • Operates computer systems and applications.
  • Responds to questions and performs troubleshooting to provide end-user support for applications and computer systems.
  • Works effectively with coworkers and others by sharing ideas in a constructive, positive manner; listening to and objectively considering ideas and suggestions from others; keeping commitments; keeping others informed of work progress and issues; addressing problems and issues constructively to find mutually acceptable and practical solutions; and respecting the diversity of the CTIO workforce in actions, words, and deeds.
  • Maintains commitment to a high standard of safety, complies with all safety laws and CTIO safety policies/rules, and reports actual and potential safety violations to appropriate supervisory or management personnel.
  • 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.

Other Functions

  • Works with end users to improve operational applications.
  • Performs analysis to support operations.
  • Performs other duties consistent with the scope of the position, as specified by the Computer Application Group Manager.
  • Participates in weekly CTIO video conferences with the Telescope Operations Group.
  • When required, travel internationally to face-to-face meetings.
Skills and experience


  • Three years experience in development of software for engineering or scientific applications.
  • Experience with hardware control applications and real time operating systems.
  • Experience in Unix and Unix shell scripting.
  • Experience spanning the full software life cycle.
  • Technical writing experience.


  • Experience working with telescope control software.
  • Experience with LabVIEW.
  • Knowledge of low-level programming (microprocessors, FPGA) is a plus.
  • Good knowledge of English language is a plus.
  • Ability to work independently and as a member of a team.
  • Good applied mathematical and statistical skills.
  • Problem solving - the individual identifies and resolves problems in a timely manner and gathers and analyzes information skillfully.
  • Interpersonal Skills - the individual maintains confidentiality, remains open to others? ideas and exhibits willingness to try new things.
  • Oral communication - the individual speaks clearly and persuasively in positive or negative situations, demonstrates group presentation skills and conducts meetings.
  • Written Communication - the individual edits work for spelling and grammar, presents numerical data effectively and is able to read and interpret written information.
  • Planning/organizing - the individual prioritizes and plans work activities, uses time efficiently and develops realistic action plans. Should be able to execute multiple tasks/projects simultaneously.
  • Quality control - the individual demonstrates accuracy and thoroughness and monitors own work to ensure quality.
  • Adaptability - the individual adapts to changes in the work environment, manages competing demands and is able to deal with frequent change, delays or unexpected events.
  • Dependability - the individual is consistently at work and on time, follows instructions, responds to management direction and solicits feedback to improve performance.
  • Safety and security - the individual actively promotes and personally observes safety and security procedures and uses equipment and materials properly.