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Mechanical Engineer

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Posted on Sunday, June 30, 2024

Current HHMI Employees, click here to apply via your Workday account.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus is a pioneering research center in Ashburn, Virginia, where scientists pursue fundamental questions in the life sciences. Our integrated teams of biologists, computational scientists, and tool-builders innovate research practices and technologies to solve biology’s deepest mysteries. HHMI launched Janelia in 2006, establishing an intellectually enriching environment for scientists to do creative, collaborative, hands-on work. We share our methods, results, and tools with the scientific community.

About the role:

The Janelia Experimental Technology group (jET) is seeking highly talented and ambitious mechanical engineers to join our team. Here on our research campus you will get hands-on experience working on jET projects at the interface of engineering, neuroscience, cell biology, and optical imaging research.

Engineers are expected to collaborate with researchers and then work independently on projects to further their scientific goals. We seek people who are passionate about contributing to scientific discovery, can generate great ideas and deliver solutions based on them, and who are excited to work in Janelia’s highly collaborative and unique environment.

What we provide:

  • The opportunity to rapidly impact scientific research, on a timescale not often seen in industry.

  • A state of the art engineering and prototype fabrication lab to bring designs from concept to reality.

  • Mentorship and collaboration with senior engineers and scientists in the group and across the campus.

  • Work on a wide range and variety of projects, from tiny one-off parts hard to see with the naked eye, to large equipment, or projects where thousands of components are needed.

  • An inclusive group culture of continuous learning and improvement to deliver the best technical solutions possible.

  • Competitive compensation, with comprehensive health and welfare benefits.

What you’ll do:

  • Design, develop, assemble, integrate, test, debug, modify, and optimize simple to complex systems, instruments, and one-of-a-kind prototype component parts for research.

  • Study project objectives, priorities, and requirements to identify and establish performance requirements and test methods for developed systems. Translate requirements into engineering concepts, designs and plans.

  • Estimate upfront costs, and then track time and costs to enable proper charges to customers.

  • Document your designs to ensure accurate technical records are produced.

  • Work collaboratively with internal research customers and a multi-disciplinary jET team.

  • Communicate all activities within assigned projects with the research customer and jET management.

  • Recommend actions for professional self-development.

What you bring:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and at least two years of professional experience.

  • Strong technical aptitude in mechanical engineering principles and practice.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills including both verbal and written communication.

  • Ability to translate varied and potentially ambiguous customer requests, which will be of a scientific as well as technical nature, into project requirements and design options.

  • Knowledge and understanding of relevant fabrication, metrology and testing techniques, and a willingness to personally build and improve upon one’s designs.

  • Hands-on experience with mechanical design, fabrication, and implementation of instrumentation and/or automation for the life science industry or natural science research is a plus.

  • Ability to describe and explain design concepts, theory of operation, usage and instructions for developed designs.

  • Ability to create 3D cad models of mechanical parts and assemblies, as well as create necessary fabrication documentation using software packages such as Autodesk Inventor.

  • Ability to work concurrently on multiple projects for various research groups and prioritize tasks so that work is performed efficiently.

We encourage qualified candidates who are eligible to work in the United States to apply. Please note we are not able to sponsor a visa for this position at this time.

Physical Requirements:

Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard or hand tools ; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to 30 pounds.

Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Please Note:

This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however. Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Compensation and Benefits

Our employees are compensated from a total rewards perspective in many ways for their contributions to our mission, including competitive pay, exceptional health benefits, retirement plans, time off, and a range of recognition and wellness programs. Visit our Benefits at HHMI site to learn more.

Compensation Range

$85,648.00 (minimum) - $107,060.00 (midpoint) - $139,178.00 (maximum)

Pay Type:


HHMI’s salary structure is developed based on relevant job market data. HHMI considers a candidate's education, previous experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as internal equity when making job offers. Typically, a new hire for this position in this location is compensated between the minimum and the midpoint of the salary range.

HHMI is an Equal Opportunity Employer