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Senior Principal Adaptive Optics Systems Architect

Requisition ID: R10091615

  • CategoryCategory: Engineering
  • LocationLocation: Devens, MA, USA
  • Citizenship RequirementsCitizenship Required: United States Citizenship
  • Security Clearance TypeClearance Type: None
  • TelecommuteTelecommute: No- Teleworking not available for this position
  • ShiftShift: 1st Shift (United States of America)
  • Travel RequirementsTravel Required: Yes, 25% of the Time
  • Relocation AssistanceRelocation Assistance: Relocation assistance may be available
  • Number of Positions AvailablePositions Available: 1

At Northrop Grumman, our employees have incredible opportunities to work on revolutionary systems that impact people's lives around the world today, and for generations to come. Our pioneering and inventive spirit has enabled us to be at the forefront of many technological advancements in our nation's history - from the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean, to stealth bombers, to landing on the moon. We look for people who have bold new ideas, courage and a pioneering spirit to join forces to invent the future, and have fun along the way. Our culture thrives on intellectual curiosity, cognitive diversity and bringing your whole self to work — and we have an insatiable drive to do what others think is impossible. Our employees are not only part of history, they're making history.

AOA Xinetics (AOX), a wholly-owned Northrop Grumman Space Systems, Payload and Ground Systems Division Business Venture, is a leading supplier of complex electro-optic and photonic systems and subsystems that control and manipulate light waves for a variety of applications. We are seeking an Adaptive Optics Systems Architect to support our operations in Devens, MA.  


Reporting to the Xinetics Design Engineering Manager, the Adaptive Optics (AO) System Architect, will be defining the requirements and performance budgets, simulating system performance, and developing implementation details of the Wave Front Sensor (WFS), Relay Optics, Camera/sensor selection, and lenslet arrays.  The AO systems engineer will also be responsible for defining the AO System SW algorithms and executing integration and verification of the adaptive optics system.  The AO systems engineer will lead/guide the mechanical, electrical, optical and software engineers to develop designs that support the AO system architecture. 

The AO Systems Engineer will plan, manage and balance engineering technical, cost and schedule performance of programs, coordinate proposal technical efforts and ensure that programs are adhering to sound engineering principles and processes.

This role collaborates with program management, manufacturing, quality, supply chain, suppliers and other partners, and serves as the primary customer technical point of contact ensuring that customer requirements and deliverables are met.  You will collaborate with the Xinetics Business Area CTO with identifying, supporting and implementing strategic product development projects. 


  • Lead the development of AO Systems

  • Verify adaptive optics control algorithms and end-to-end performance

  • Lead the identification, procurement and testing of AO-related subsystems such as wavefront sensors/cameras, relay optics, and deformable mirrors

  • Analyze performance using computer simulations and analytical models

  • Lead acceptance tests of AO systems and subsystems

  • Prepare technical reports to document the AO design and performance

  • Prepare and deliver presentations at technical reviews and conferences

  • Requirements and interface development, decomposition, analysis, refinement, allocation, verification and validation

  • Coordinate and lead technical project planning and Gate Reviews (SRR, PDR, CDR, TRR)

  • Coordinate and conduct system performance analysis and trade studies

  • Establish and manage system error budgets

  • Develop and maintain product technical baseline

  • Collaborate with internal/external stakeholders (e.g. peers, management, PMO, manufacturing, quality, outside suppliers, etc.)

  • Partner with Xinetics Business Area Manager, Program Managers and other technical personnel on quotes, proposals and responses to customer technical inquiries

  • Risk and opportunity management and lead problem investigator

  • Learn existing business related technologies, keep up to date with new emerging technologies for integration into product portfolio

  • Controls engineering project scope (e.g. within or outside established project baseline) 

Basic Qualifications:

  • BS or MS degree in optical science, astronomy, physics, or related field

  • 9+ years experience in Systems Engineering with a Bachelor's Degree, or 7 years with a Master's, or 4 years with a PhD

  • At least five (5) years of experience in the development or use of adaptive optics systems

  • Strong analytical skills

  • Knowledge of AO theory, modeling techniques, components, and testing methods

  • Competency using high-level programming languages such as Matlab, IDL, or Python

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment

  • Review preparation and presentation skills

  • Proven ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders

  • Advanced MS Office skills (Power Point, Excel, Word, MS Project, Outlook)

  • U.S. Citizenship is a bona fide requirement

Preferred Qualifications:

  • A PhD in optical science, astronomy, physics, or related field

  • Knowledge/experience with control of adaptive optical systems including adaptive optics, fast steering mirrors, gimbal systems, jitter/beamwalk controls (interferometric) and/or deformable mirrors

  • Hands-on experience developing and testing astronomical adaptive optics systems or laboratory optical testbeds

  • Experience using Zemax, Code V, or similar optical design and analysis tools

Physical Requirements:

  • Occasional domestic/international travel required up to 10-20% of the time

  • Ability to walk, stand and sit for extended periods of time and light physical effort required


    Salary Range: $129,700 USD - $194,500 USD

    Employees may be eligible for a discretionary bonus in addition to base pay. Annual bonuses are designed to reward individual contributions as well as allow employees to share in company results. Employees in Vice President or Director positions may be eligible for Long Term Incentives. In addition, Northrop Grumman provides a variety of benefits including health insurance coverage, life and disability insurance, savings plan, Company paid holidays and paid time off (PTO) for vacation and/or personal business.

    The health and safety of our employees and their families is a top priority. The company encourages employees to remain up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. U.S. Northrop Grumman employees may be required, in the future, to be vaccinated or have an approved disability/medical or religious accommodation, pursuant to future court decisions and/or government action on the currently stayed federal contractor vaccine mandate under Executive Order 14042

    Northrop Grumman is committed to hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. We are proud to be an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer, making decisions without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, national origin, age, veteran status, disability, or any other protected class. For our complete EEO/AA and Pay Transparency statement, please visit U.S. Citizenship is required for most positions.

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    What's great about
    Northrop Grumman

    1. Be part of a culture that thrives on intellectual curiosity, cognitive diversity and bringing your whole self to work.
    2. Use your skills to build and deliver innovative tech solutions that protect the world and shape a better future.
    3. Enjoy benefits like work-life balance, education assistance and paid time off.

    Did you know?

    Northrop Grumman leads the industry team for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. Launched in December 2021, the telescope incorporates innovative design, advanced technology, and groundbreaking engineering, and will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe.