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Project Manager - Navy Precision Optical Interferometer

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ, United States
Employer Description

The Historic Lowell Observatory was founded in 1894.  In 2012, we embarked on our greatest adventure yet with the completion of the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT). This new facility, in full science operations as of 2015, vastly expands the breadth of our research capabilities for our astronomers and those of our institutional partners. Even more exciting, our partnership with Discovery Communications provides an avenue to bring our results and breathtaking images to hundreds of millions worldwide.

Job Description

The Project Manager position will be primarily responsible for leading the development of a large upgrade to the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI), which is managed and operated by Lowell Observatory.  The successful applicant will be skilled in project management and will also have experience in a highly technical field such as astronomical instrumentation.

The Project Manager is part of Lowell Observatory’s Technology Department.  Work is performed primarily at the NPOI  at Lowell Observatory’s Anderson Mesa facility (about 10 miles from Flagstaff, AZ), and at Lowell Observatory’s Headquarters on Mars Hill.  This position reports to the Deputy Director of Technology, and works closely with the Operations Manager, the Technical Facilities Manager, and NPOI science, engineering, and operations staff.

This position is initially funded for the duration of the NPOI Upgrade project (3-5 years), with the potential to become permanent thereafter, assuming satisfactory job performance and the availability of (and funding for) subsequent projects at Lowell Observatory.


The Project Manager oversees numerous aspects of the planned upgrade to NPOI, including budget, scheduling, and resource allocation, along with requirements development, flow-down, and tracking.  The Project Manager will be involved in oversight (including hiring) of Lowell Observatory staff tasked with completing the upgrade.  The PM will also work directly with partners and stakeholders (US Naval Research Lab, US Naval Observatory, and US Forest Service) to ensure successful execution of the NPOI upgrade project within scheduling, budgetary, and regulatory constraints.  This will include regular reporting, along with formal reviews (both internal and external) of progress toward project milestones.

The PM will also work with contractors and outside vendors, and will manage project-specific knowledge (including technical documentation and version control).  Finally, the Project Manager will monitor all aspects of the project for safety compliance and quality assurance.


Requires proactive leadership ability and excellent communication skills, along with organizational skills, attention to detail, and highly developed problem-solving capacity.  Demonstrated ability to work with cross-disciplinary specialists (e.g., scientists, engineers, and architects) is desirable.

Requires Project Management training and certification, as well as experience in managing large (>$1M) technical projects through their entire lifecycle.  5+ years of Project Management Experience is preferred, as is experience with systems engineering principles and practices.

A bachelor’s degree in a STEM or management field is required; an advanced degree is preferred.  Experience with astronomical or optical instrumentation is strongly preferred; experience specifically related to optical interferometry will be viewed favorably.

A valid driver’s license or ability to obtain one is required. Driving in winter conditions on mountain roads is to be expected.


The Project Manager will work at elevations above 7000 feet.  Temperatures can range from -20 to 70 degrees F.  The work requires a moderate degree of climbing, walking, bending, reaching, driving, and repetitive motions and typical operations require long periods of standing or sitting at a computer.  Occasional night-time work may be required.

Status:                                                  Full-time, Regular
FLSA Classification:                         Exempt
Compensation Type:                      Salary
Benefit Eligible:                               Yes*
Location:                                             Flagstaff and Anderson Mesa, AZ

To Apply:
Please send the following documents to humanresources@lowell.edu

  • Lowell Short Form Application (http://lowell.edu/about/employment)
  • Letter of interest addressing your qualifications
  • Resume
  • Phone numbers and e-mail addresses of three professional references

 Applications received by June 18th, 2020 will receive full consideration. The position will remain open until filled.

Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Kyler Kuehn, Deputy Director for Technology (kkuehn@lowell.edu; +1 928-233-3221)

*Benefits Overview:  In addition to 10 scheduled paid holidays, Lowell Observatory offers a Flexible Paid Time Off policy for all full-time, benefit eligible employees which allows you to determine how much time you need to rest and enjoy yourself outside of work.  The cost of premiums for medical, life & long term disability insurances for benefit eligible employees is 100% paid by the company, and includes a contribution to either an H.S.A or HRA account for first dollar medical expenses.

Employment is subject to passing a background check

Lowell Observatory is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and provides equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital and family status.

Lowell Observatory provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. This nonsmoking/drug-free campus is at an elevation of 7,000 ft/2100m, and the LDT is 40 miles south of Flagstaff at an elevation of 7,800 ft/2370m. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the Human Resources office for assistance.

All employment with the Observatory is on an "at will" basis.  At-will employment means that the relationship may be terminated at any time by either the employee or the Observatory for any reason not expressly prohibited by law.  Any representations to the contrary are invalid and should not be relied upon by any prospective or existing employee.

20 May 2020
19 June 2020
Masters Degree
Research and Development
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