Job Listings

Software Engineer, Adaptive Optics Controls

The University of Arizona
Job Location:
Tucson, 85724

Posting Number: req19191

Department: Steward Observatory

Location: Main Campus

Address: Tucson, AZ USA

Position Highlights

The Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics (CAAO) at Steward Observatory is developing and operating several world class adaptive optics (AO) systems at large telescopes, specifically the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), the AO system at the MMT, MagAO-X on the Clay Telescope in Chile, and space based projects. GMagAO-X is in development for the planned 25 meter Giant Magellan Telescope.

The selected candidate will help design, implement, and maintain a wide variety of AO instruments for space and ground based telescopes. A key aspect is their implementation of low-latency image processing for real-time feedback control of AO systems. The selected candidate will have a strong background in software control of hardware and proficiency with various aspects of control system engineering.

Outstanding UA benefits include health, dental, and vision insurance plans; life insurance and disability programs; paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays; UA/ASU/NAU tuition reduction for the employee and qualified family members; retirement plans; access to UA recreation and cultural activities; and more!

The University of Arizona has been recognized for our innovative work-life programs. For more information about working at the University of Arizona and relocations services, please click here.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Using engineering principles, develop requirements and implement software for Adaptive Optics system control.  This software must be able to interface with hardware and have a graphical user interface that allows the manipulation of the complex AO systems. 
  • Will use their understanding of controls engineering, specifically on how it relates to AO systems and the interface to hardware. The controls software must be able to support low latency real time control. This is to include knowledge on how to leverage GPU's to get the low latency real time control.  Work will be used for future AO Systems and must be able to recognize the larger picture.  It will also be used to guide software engineers to produce low latency AO systems.
  • Use ability to write software to be able to test and validate their code with real world hardware. This is to include drivers and API's that interface via serial, network, or any other forms of hardware communication.  The software will need to be robust enough to be deployed to remote mountain sites and space based missions.  In fixing the bugs, the candidate must utilize their in-depth expertise to coordinate with other stakeholders and implement fixes that do not affect the other systems involved.
  • Direction and implementation of software reports and documentation will be needed to be able to develop reports that will be used to update key stakeholders and direction and tasking of items to other engineering disciplines within the project.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities:

  • Extensive knowledge of AO and software control of PID loops to control real time control.
  • Must be able to work independently with little direction.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent advanced learning attained through professional level experience and a minimum of 5 years of relevant work experience, or equivalent combination of education and work experience.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Controls Engineering experience.

FLSA: Exempt

Full Time/Part Time: Full Time

Number of Hours Worked per Week: 40

Job FTE: 1.0

Work Calendar: Fiscal

Job Category: Research

Benefits Eligible: Yes - Full Benefits

Rate of Pay: $99,901 - $129,871

Compensation Type: salary at 1.0 full-time equivalency (FTE)



Compensation Guidance

The Rate of Pay Field represents the University of Arizona's good faith and reasonable estimate of the range of possible compensation at the time of posting. The University considers several factors when extending an offer, including but not limited to, the role and associated responsibilities, a candidate's work experience, education/training, key skills, and internal equity.

The Grade Range Minimum, Midpoint, and Maximum Fields listed below represent a full range of career compensation growth over time in this position and grade. Each unit typically sets starting pay between minimum and midpoint upon hire. The university offers compensation growth opportunities within its career architecture. To learn more about compensation, please review our Applicant Compensation Guide and our Total Rewards Calculator.

Grade Range Minimum


Grade Range Midpoint


Grade Range Maximum


Career Stream and Level


Job Family

Research Engineering

Job Function


Type of criminal background check required: Name-based criminal background check (non-security sensitive)

Number of Vacancies: 1

Contact Information for Candidates

Open Until Filled: Yes

Documents Needed to Apply: Resume

Diversity Statement

At the University of Arizona, we value our inclusive climate because we know that diversity in experiences and perspectives is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and creating an inclusive academic community. As a Hispanic-serving institution, we translate these values into action by seeking individuals who have experience and expertise working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituencies. Because we seek a workforce with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we provide equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. As an Employer of National Service, we also welcome alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service programs and others who will help us advance our Inclusive Excellence initiative aimed at creating a university that values student, staff and faculty engagement in addressing issues of diversity and inclusiveness.

Notice of Availability of the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report

In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), each year the University of Arizona releases an Annual Security Report (ASR) for each of the University's campuses. These reports disclose information including Clery crime statistics for the previous three calendar years and policies, procedures, and programs the University uses to keep students and employees safe, including how to report crimes or other emergencies and resources for crime victims. As a campus with residential housing facilities, the Main Campus ASR also includes a combined Annual Fire Safety report with information on fire statistics and fire safety systems, policies, and procedures.
Paper copies of the Reports can be obtained by contacting the University Compliance Office at

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