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Build Engineer

Company: AURA NSF Centers
Location: Oro Valley
Posted on: July 9, 2021

Job Description:

Revised March 22, 2021

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 Build Engineer with a devops outlook. The build engineer would report to the Data and Processing Architecture team lead within the Data Production department. 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!


The 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 variey of production environments, from the telescope summit to the Rubin Observatory Science Platform.

Longer term, this position involves ensuring through development (and were necessary through re-architecture) the packaging of the codebase by our scientific community, and lowering the technical barriers to adoption.

Rubin wishes to provide easy access to users and feel that AstroPy interfaces should be provided to underlying processes and data structures. For performance purposes we do not think we can replace internal algorithms with equivalent AstroPy routines but testing (and the long project lifetime) may change this. For the correct candidate up to 20% of time could be dedicated to AstroPy and making the Rubin Science Pipelines software and data accessible and compatible with it.

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 software environment for ground-based optical survey imaging.
  • Ensure that our software integrates as well as possible with other popular open source astronomical environments such as AstroPy, conda, etc.
  • Maintain and improve the builds for the various data production software products
  • Fix the continuous integration builds and improve the packaging system
  • Support the observatory software builds and their release to the production environments and the community
  • 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 Pyton 2 to Python 3 and the documentation format change NumpyDoc


This role requires 5 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 demonstrable 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 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.

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 and computer usage may be required. 
  • Occasional travel will be necessary in and outside the contiguous United States.

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.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion at Rubin Observatory.  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 http://www.aura-astronomy.org/diversity.asp

****Rubin Observatory has the majority of staff working remotely during COVID-19 crisis. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape. Offers of employment can be extended and new hires can on-board virtually and arrangements may be made for remote work in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C., preceding relocation to Tucson, Arizona. Relocation benefits will be available to those eligible when travel can be supported**** 

The preferred home location for this role is Tucson, Arizona.

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

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 list any major open source, github sites and especially build systems you contribute to. 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 employment@aura-astronomy.org.

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at employment@aura-astronomy.org 

The position will remain open until filled. To be considered in the first round of reviews, please submit your application by March 31, 2021.  

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 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. 

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.

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)

Keywords: AURA NSF Centers, Oro Valley , Build Engineer, Other , Oro Valley, Arizona

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