Research Engineering Optical Fabrication Tech II (Multiple Positions)

Tucson, AZ
Jun 10, 2021
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution
Posting Number:



Steward Observatory

Department Website Link:


Main Campus


Tucson, AZ USA

Position Highlights:

The department of Steward Observatory seeks to fill up to two positions for a Research Engineering Fabrication Technician II.The selected candidate(s) will work as part of the only mirror casting team in the world that spin-casts monolithic telescope mirror blanks with honeycomb support structures as large as 8.4 meters in diameter. Tasks conducted by all team members include machining and testing alumina silica refractory parts, casting silica carbide refractory parts, precisely assembling the thousands of mold components, inspecting and loading glass, building and maintaining a 10-meter rotating furnace, monitoring furnace thermal cycles during the casting process, assembling and attaching hardware to lift 18-ton and 10-ton mirror blanks, separating mold materials from the casting, inspecting the castings, and moving the castings with an overhead crane. The entire process takes 13 to 16 months for each mirror casting, and results in castings with dimensional precision on the order of millimeters.

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; state and optional retirement plans; access to UA recreation and cultural activities; and more!

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Duties & Responsibilities:

1. Machine and handle multiple different shapes of high temperature tolerant, critical, alumina-silica refractory materials in high volume. This work requires an ability to read drawings, finish to engineering specifications, and verify dimensions by measuring. Machine tools to be used:

• Vertical band saw
• Horizontal lathe
• Shaper
• Machinist calipers

2. Assembly of large telescope mirror glass casting molds up to 8.4 meters in diameter including:

• Casting, layout and installing silicon carbide refractories.
• Installing 45 foot long Inconel bands.
• Install base and wall alumina silica refractories.
• Assist with set up, machining, measuring alumina silica mold components.
• Strength proof testing refractories.
• Assemble and bond alumina silica refractory components.
• Install refractory cores in mold.
• Inspect and clean mold.

3. Prep and cast large telescope mirror blank:

• Assist with the inspection of 18 tons of glass and load into mold.
• Prepare the 10-meter diameter rotating furnace for heating.
• Be part of the 3-month, 24/7 casting oven piloting team .
• Operate computerized furnace control system during casting cycle.
• Utilize furnace monitoring system to recognize and report anomalies to senior team members.

4. Cleaning the cast mirror blank:

• Disassembly of the mold tub, Inconel bands and furnace walls.
• Assembly and installation of a mirror lifting weldment.
• Assembly of 40-foot tall steel washout enclosure.
• Removal of silicon carbide mold parts.
• High pressure water washout of alumina silica refractories.
• Disposal of refractory waste in accordance with environmental protection rules.

5. Maintain lab equipment:

• Lathe, shaper, band saw
• Dust collection equipment
• Mirror cleanout equipment
• 10-meter diameter rotating furnace

Minimum Qualifications:

  • H.S. Diploma
  • 3 years related experience.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Vocational or technical training - Field of study: Mechanical or related field.
  • Associate’s degree, or vocational or technical school degree - Field of study:
  • Mechanical or related field.



Full Time/Part Time:

Full Time

Number of Hours Worked per Week:


Job FTE:


Work Calendar:


Job Category:


Benefits Eligible:

Yes - Full Benefits

Rate of Pay:


Compensation Type:

hourly rate



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:


Target Hire Date:


Expected End Date:

Contact Information for Candidates:

[email protected]
[email protected]

Open Date:


Open Until Filled:


Documents Needed to Apply:

Resume and Cover Letter

Special Instructions to Applicant:

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 an Hispanic-serving institution and a Native American/Alaska Native-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.

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