Senior Optical Design Engineer

Job Details

Job ID: 10820

New ideas are all around us, but only a few will change the world. That’s our focus at JPL. We ask the biggest questions, then search the universe for answers—literally. We build upon ideas that have guided generations, then share our discoveries to inspire generations to come. Your mission—your opportunity—is to seek out the answers that bring us one step closer. If you’re driven to discover, create, and inspire something that lasts a lifetime and beyond, you’re ready for JPL..

Located in Pasadena, California, JPL has a campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.


The Optical Analysis & Simulation Group works on cutting-edge concepts and instruments for Earth-observing, planetary and astrophysical missions. People in the group work on design, analysis, implementation, alignment and testing of complex optical systems that lie at the core of instruments intended to observe and characterize everything from planets around other stars to concentrations of trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere to mineralogical composition of soil and rocks on planetary surfaces.


As a Senior Optical Design Engineer of the Optics Section’s Optical Analysis & Simulation Group and you will lead, manage and perform optical design and analysis efforts on existing JPL projects (e.g. WFIRST Coronagraph, MISE, EMIT) and proposed projects for future NASA and other Government agency missions. This position will report to the Group Supervisor of the Optical Analysis & Simulation Group


Specific tasks will include:


Leading instrument optical design;

Development of requirements and error budgets for optical instruments; and conceptual design

planning for future optically-based instruments, e.g. Fourier transform spectrometers for Earth and planetary trace gas measurements.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Optical Engineering, Optical Sciences, Physics or related technical discipline with typically a minimum of 9 years of related experience; Master’s degree in similar disciplines with a minimum of 7 years of related experience; or PhD in similar disciplines with at least 5 years related experience.
  • Must have 5 years of recent experience in multiple optical designs proven by successful fabrication/ systems build
  • Power CODE-V or Zemax user with Macro experience
  • Must demonstrate innovation demonstrated by multiple optical design papers & patents
  • Experience leading and managing small technical teams
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills


Having one or more of the following preferred skills would be beneficial:


  • Experience with air- or space-borne optical instruments
  • Experience with one or more of the following: lens design, spectrometer design, high contrast imaging; wavefront sensing and control; active optics using deformable mirrors
  • Proficiency in one or more of the following: TFCalc, Matlab, or Mathematica

Work Authorization

U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

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