Maunakea Site (Operations) Manager

Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Hilo, HI, United States

AURA has an opening for the position of Mauna Kea (MK) Site Manager for the International Gemini Observatory. The position will be based at the observatory facility on Mauna Kea in Hilo, Hawai`i. We are committed to diversity and inclusion at NOIRLab. 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

The Site Manager coordinates the day-to-day Mauna Kea summit work in coordination with the Telescope Technical Manager, and the GN Head of Engineering Operations. The Site Manager reports functionally to the Gemini-N Head of Engineering and administratively to the ES ME Manager.

Essential Functions:

 Strategic and Management Oversight:

  • Functional manager for the Mauna Kea day crew. This includes working with the NOIRLab L2 managers to set clear goals and conduct regular performance evaluations. Fosters an environment of personal and organizational growth and enrichment.
  • Plans and prepares monthly and weekly telescope daytime activities. Leads daily coordination of all telescope activities, chairing coordination meetings, interact with other groups (Science, ITOps, Software) to ensure all plant equipment and required facilities for telescope operation are readily available.

Budget Management:

  • Works with the MK Deputy Site Manager GN Head of Engineering Operations to develop and manage the MK site portion of the budget. Prepares annual forecast, considering upgrades and larger maintenance activities, training needs and fluctuating energy costs.
  • Tracks spending against budget and reports variances to Program and Service management.

Operational and Technical Oversight:

  • Responsibilities include oversight of telescope systems and support services required to conduct the day-to-day technical and observing functions of all systems within the telescope enclosure as well as daily and long-term maintenance of telescope facilities and instruments, telescope facility upgrades and instrument development; and engineering interfaces across all levels, internally within the Observatory and externally, as appropriate.
  • Manages and plans the corrective and preventive maintenance programs for the entire telescope facility, implementing upgrades to complex systems. Identify performance and efficiency improvements by applying proven industrial standards on reliability and quality. Provides input and strategic direction for upgrades, obsolescence mitigation programs.
  • Participates in and leads troubleshooting activities.
  • Maintains strong focus on process orientated work, sets standards for documenting activities, strives for continuous improvement by periodic audit of all processes used during telescope operations. Sets and monitors KPIs.
  • Take full control of the Maunakea site operations and ensure site safety during bad weather or catastrophic conditions.

Safety, Communication and Governance:

  • Ensures implementation of Gemini’s Safety Policy by training, educating, guiding summit staff and ultimately enforce compliance. Takes action on any safety related issues by consulting safety group and report back to Head of Engineering Operations. Lays out appropriate training plans for summit crew, ensure safety walkthroughs are completed, and Job Safety Analyses are completed whenever appropriate. Conducts incident investigation in collaboration with the safety department applying methodologies aimed at continuous improvement.
  • Works with the Head of Engineering and the engineering staff to ensure that, at the highest levels, the Observatory continues to realize the goal of a single, cohesive, competent, focused, productive Observatory-wide Operations team of the highest quality. Requires a desire and the know-how to drive the effort to make the telescopes the best possible in ground-based astronomy.
  • Maintains excellent relations with internal and external customers, attends telescope visits, presents periodic reports during meetings internal and external to the observatory. Fosters an open communication working environment to stimulate inclusiveness and participation in continuous improvement initiatives by all group members.
  • Coordinates and approves all requests for tours.
  • All AURA employees must be safety conscious, comply with the Safety Manual and attend safety training.


Other Functions:

  • Ice and snow removal from the enclosure and facility as required.
  • Continue Maunakea technical work in assigned discipline.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Accredited technical degree or equivalent experience.
  • Minimum of 5 years successfully managing work crews.
  • Previous experience maintaining and managing complex systems.
  • Must be a good problem solver.
  • Must demonstrate dexterity, safety awareness, and attention to detail.
  • Must be able to work as part of a diverse team.
  • Must possess leadership, organizational, and communication skills.
  • Requires excellent judgement and ability to communicate firmly when issues of safety of personnel or the telescope are apparent.
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license and clean driving record.
  • Must be able to drive a 4-WD vehicle.

 Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Familiarity with the electronics and mechanics of telescope systems is highly desirable.
  • Previous telescope experience preferred.

Physical Demands:

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.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel and talk or hear.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; reach with hands and arms and stoop; kneel; crouch; or crawl.
  • The employee must regularly lift and /or move up to 10 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.
  • Must be able – to sit for long periods of time; must be able to drive a 4-WD vehicle and possess a clean driving record; Must be able to work at the Mauna Kea Gemini Observatory located at 14,000-foot altitude.
  • Must possess – sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) reach upward, sideways, downward to work with paper files; b) sufficient mobility and dexterity to utilize computer systems, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines.
  • Must possess – 1) ability to read and understand instructions, drawings, safety guides, and other written materials necessary to perform job; 2) sufficient visual capacity to perform the applicable functions without assistance of visual aids other than eye contacts or eye glasses; 3) sufficient spoken aural capacity to hear and understand instructions, warning bells, fire alarms, or shouted instructions without assistance of auditory aids other than a hearing aid; and 4) ability to impart information orally so that others understand and can respond appropriately.
  • Must possess sufficient mobility, strength or dexterity in both arms and hands and both legs to a) grasp, push, pull, turn or otherwise manipulate tools and mechanisms; b) push, pull or otherwise safely and efficiently manipulate tools or mechanisms; c) lift, hold, maneuver, objects of 50 lbs or more; d) maintain balance while performing work; e) remove parts, systems, tools of 50 lbs or more.
  • Some travel may be necessary in or outside the contiguous United States.
  • Mauna Kea: Ability to work at 14,000’ in a cold environment for 10-hour shifts. Longer shifts and working during inclement weather occasionally required. Required to pass High Altitude medical examination (post offer and potentially at specified intervals while employed if medically necessary).

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.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Effective December 8, 2021, AURA will require all U.S. based employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccination will be a condition of employment, with exemptions granted only for valid medical or religious reasons. This is requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule). Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

AURA currently offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all, with most staff working virtually from home during the COVID-19 crisis through December 2021. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape and offers of employment can be extended and new hires will onboard virtually. Employees are required to be residents in the Tucson, Arizona, or Baltimore-Washington area within a limited time from their start date.

Submission materials: Please include a CV or resume, a cover letter detailing your professional interests and qualifications for the position, and at least 3 professional references. For full consideration please submit your application by the deadline of October 1, 2021.

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at

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 National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, 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 and all of the centers, do 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.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.