Sr Engineer, Sensor

February 24, 2021
Mountain View, CA
Job Type


USRA is seeking a Senior Sensor Engineer who will support the Airborne Sensor Facility team within USRA as part of the USRA managed NASA Academic Mission Services (NAMS) program. The primary funding source for the area's projects is NASA's Ames Research Center.

Position Summary:

The Senior Sensor Engineer will work in collaboration with the USRA Earth Science Technical Area Lead (TAL) and the entire Airborne Sensor Facility (ASF) team.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • In collaboration with the earth sciences team, this person will assist with the maintenance and operation of a suite of existing sensor and data systems that are flown on various NASA science aircraft. This involves a variety remote sensing hardware technologies, and real-time airborne data communications systems. The engineer will also assist with the integration these systems onto various platforms, and support their operation on remote field deployments, as dictated by NASA science objectives; some travel (both foreign and domestic) is required.
  • The engineer will also support the design and development of new airborne remote sensing and data acquisition systems, that may require custom digital circuit board and analog circuit designs, PCB layout, as well as test and calibration of completed hardware.
  • Responsible for the maintenance of infrared detector systems, together with the associated analog and digital subsystems, and cryogenic cooling systems.
  • Attendance at related sensor design reviews, science planning meetings, post-mission debriefings, and conferences is required.
  • Satisfy USRA's non-profit mission my making a distinctive impact through scientific and technical accomplishments in the assigned projects.
  • Work effectively with others including functional staff for day-to-day operations and efforts to improve operational excellence.
  • Act safely, ethically and in compliance with all laws and regulations and USRA policies and procedures including protecting NASA and USRA intellectual property, complying with ITAR/EAR rules, and completing all required training as scheduled.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Ensure the protection intellectual property including submitting new technology disclosures and supporting patent applications
  • Ensure export control compliance related to ITAR/EAR regulations
  • Support efforts by USRA Management to ensure that USRA conducts its business operations in an effective, cost-competitive, and professional manner
  • Complete all trainings as scheduled
  • Other job related duties as assigned

Required Qualifications


  • A Masters Degree in electrical engineering with three years' practical experience, or a BSEE with five years' experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience including relevant experience and knowledge of the principles of digital data systems with an emphasis on Earth Science applications.


  • At least 10 years of experience in the relevant domain. Significant airborne sensor experience preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Practical experience with the design, fabrication, and implementation of airborne and/or spaceborne instrumentation and high-speed data capture systems.
  • Demonstrated experience successfully leading design and fabrication projects for airborne and/or space borne hardware systems, including digital circuit board design.
  • A working knowledge of advanced digital and analog electronics, and data capture systems.
  • Hands-on experience with airborne and/or spaceborne systems. Experience working on and around aircraft, and a basic knowledge of the principles of airworthiness and flight safety is preferred, as is familiarity with airborne satellite communications systems (e.g. Inmarsat and/or Iridium) and their operation.
  • A working knowledge of digital test equipment and related laboratory instrumentation.
  • C++ and Labview programming skills. Knowledge of FPGA programming strongly preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact effectively in an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers, as well as to work independently within general technical guidelines. Excellent oral and written communication skills, along with strong organizational, analytical, and interpersonal skills.
  • Proven ability to think strategically and creatively, to anticipate trends, and to translate thinking into plans for a large and complex research area.
  • Possess excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Understanding of government, academic, and industrial research environments.
  • Have an impeccable reputation for excellence
  • Model USRA's core values:
  • Passion (for science, technology and education);
  • Partnerships (with universities, governments, and the private sector); and
  • Professionalism (through excellence, accountability, and respect for others).

Special Condition of Employment: In order to comply with security measures at the NASA Ames Research Center, the selected candidate will be required to be fingerprinted, and wear a photo I.D. badge. US citizenship or Green Card status is required.

Working Conditions:

Work will primarily be performed in an office or lab environment at NASA's Ames Research Center.


Employee must be willing and able to travel. Position may require significant domestic and international business travel, primarily to support airborne science campaigns.

Applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer: Minorities / Females / Protected Veterans / Disabled / Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity.

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