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Project Manager I - Research Aviation Facility

Boulder, Colorado
Hiring Range $84,287 - $105,358
Closing date
Oct 1, 2021

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Atmospheric Sciences
Career Level
Mid Career
Education Level
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Job Details

Location: Boulder, CO.

Type: Full time, exempt.

Position Term: Regular, no term.

Application Deadline: This position will be posted until Friday, October 1st.

Relocation: Partial relocation assistance is available for qualified candidates.

Work Authorization: UCAR/NCAR will not sponsor a work visa to fill this position.

Hiring Range $84,287 - $105,358
Full Salary Range $84,287 - $136,966

Benefits: UCAR affirms its continuing commitment to developing, providing, and administering its employee benefit programs with due consideration for equal employment opportunity and diversity guidelines. UCAR's rich package of employee benefits includes medical, dental, vision, education assistance, retirement, and life insurance. UCAR offers a variety of programs designed to assist with work-life balance including flexible work alternatives, paid time off and 14 weeks of paid parental leave.

Where You Will Work:

The Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL) is one of the seven laboratories of NCAR, the National Science Foundation’s Federally Funded Research and Development Center. The mission of EOL is to provide leadership in observing facilities, field project support, observational research and data services needed to advance the scientific understanding of the Earth system. 

EOL manages the majority of NSF’s Lower Atmosphere Observing Facilities (LAOF) and deploys them in support of observational field campaigns, ranging from single investigator projects to large complex campaigns that involve multiple investigators, agencies, and platforms, nationally and internationally. EOL deploys its systems for research by scientists from universities, NCAR, and government agencies. An integral part of EOL’s mission is to develop the next generation of LAOF and to provide management and archive of data from past supported campaigns.

To ensure progress in the atmospheric sciences, EOL supports a wide range of research areas within the Earth system science, ranging from microscale to mesoscale to climate process studies, and deploys LAOF platforms and systems that reach from the surface of the Earth to the lower stratosphere and beyond.

What You Will Do:

Provides lifecycle support for NSF-funded field projects of varying complexity that use one or both of the NSF / NCAR research aircraft, and for non-field projects, as assigned. Participates in field deployments as Project Manager or as on-board Mission Coordinator. Supports a subset of RAF’s instrumentation (type depending on skills and needs), in close collaboration with the RAF Science and Instrumentation Group. Produces quality controlled scientific data sets from field deployments in collaboration with RAF scientists and engineers. Helps facilitate science and management activities at the EOL Research Aviation Facility and in other parts of the Earth Observing Laboratory as needed.         Responsibilities:

Field Program Support, Project Planning and Management

Serves as Project Manager, who is the primary point of contact for principal investigators leading up to and during field campaigns.  Represents RAF during field deployments. Oversees the activities of RAF scientific and technical staff while in the field, including setting work schedules for all personnel for aircraft related activities. Organizes access to NSF/NCAR aircraft and RAF staff, including scientists, engineers, technicians, aircraft mechanics, pilots, and/or software engineers.  Monitors major project expenditures to ensure field deployments are conducted within budgetary constraints. Organizes and conducts post-project debriefings. Prepares documentation on field experiments for archival after the field phase. Along with other EOL scientists, utilizes knowledge of meteorology or atmospheric science to serve as Mission Coordinator (MC) on flights requiring MC support.

Oversees the preparation of RAF instruments for field deployments, and the certification and upload schedule for all instruments involved in field projects on the NSF/NCAR aircraft. Coordinates payload uploads for the aircraft with outside instrument providers.  Coordinates the procurement of diplomatic or regulatory permits for approved project flight operations. Develops teamwork among RAF staff and between RAF staff and guest scientists.

Interacts with all RAF groups and other parts of the Laboratory to develop feasibility analyses for future aviation field projects, including assisting with budget preparation and EOL Special Funds Requests.  Participates with RAF flight operations in flight planning and analyses of project safety.  Represents NCAR, EOL and RAF at project planning meetings and assists the EOL Project Management Office in long-range planning, scheduling and priority setting.

Instrumentation and Data Support

Supports the RAF Science and Instrumentation Group (RSIG) on development and deployment of a group of RAF facility sensors, according to individual expertise. Interacts with RSIG staff members to develop algorithms and calibration standards and to monitor system functionality in order to provide quality measurements.  Conducts data processing and quality assurance procedures in consultation with RAF scientists to produce data sets from RAF instruments. Collaborates with RAF and other EOL scientists in preparing proposals to acquire outside funding for new instrumentation developments. 

While in the field, provides operational support for instrumentation, timely reviews RAF flight data to identify instrument problems, and arranges for calibrations and repairs for RAF instruments.

After a field deployment, produces final RAF data sets obtained from facility supported instrumentation; this will be done in collaboration with RAF scientists and engineers.

Facility Support

Plays a lead role in maintaining RAF documentation, especially Investigator Handbooks, defining the capabilities of the research aircraft and the policies and procedures for mounting equipment on the aircraft and conducting of field deployments. Serves on Facility advisory committees, scientific committees and panels as appropriate.  Collaborates with members of the EOL Project Management Office and Airborne Project Office (APO) in the writing of special funds requests for field and data management services. Participates in maintaining and developing content for the RAF web site. Conducts individual research and development activities as time allows.


This is a mid-level position with a substantial level of independent decision making and responsibility, regularly involving assigning work to groups of staff, scheduling large scale activities and being the final authority on releasing data to large groups of end users.

  • Independently solves issues related to field deployments (programmatic, administrative, logistical and personnel), often in foreign countries. Requests expertise/guidance as necessary.
  • Prioritizes project and facility activities as needed to successfully complete project tasks.
  • Provides recommendations for acquisition of new instruments.
  • Implements and interprets state of the art algorithms for processing of data from airborne instruments.
  • Identifies data quality problems and either provides or seeks appropriate expertise to solve them.

What You Need:


  • B.S. in atmospheric sciences or related discipline, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Minimum of 3-5 years of experience working in observational science.
  • Experience in weather forecasting, aviation weather products or identifying aviation hazards.

Strongly desired but not required:

  • M.S. or PhD in atmospheric science or other Earth science or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • PMP, PgMP, RMP or another project management certification.


  • Well-developed knowledge of the atmospheric sciences and observational research.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills as demonstrated by thesis, reports, conference presentations or equivalent.
  • Advanced, demonstrated skill in data collection using complex instrumentation.
  • Familiarity with instrument(s) used in atmospheric research.
  • Demonstrated ability to coordinate an interdisciplinary group of staff and scientists working on a common task.
  • Advanced, demonstrated skill working with computer hardware and Linux and Windows operating systems interfaces.
  • Excellent skill in data analysis and graphics computer software such as Matlab, IDL, R or similar software packages.
  • Prior experience in proposal writing and acquisition of external funding.
  • Well-developed skill in organizing, prioritizing, and coordinating multiple tasks within a project.
  • Experience in interpreting meteorological data as it applies to identifying hazardous conditions for flight operations.

Desired but not required:

  • Fluency in at least one foreign language.
  • Familiarity with web content management systems (Drupal or similar).

Applicant Notes:

  • Must be: (a) a U.S. citizen; (b) lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States; or (c) a protected individual as defined by 8 USC1324b(a)(3).
  • Willingness to travel for up to 42 consecutive days and up to 90 days total domestically and internationally. 
  • Willingness and physical capability to serve as a crew member on NSF/NCAR aircraft.
  • A pre-employment screening is conducted in conjunction with an offer for employment. This screening may involve verifying or reviewing any of the following relevant information: restricted parties screening, employment verification, performance records of internal candidates, education verification, reference checks, verification of professional licenses, certifications, and Motor Vehicle Records.  UCAR complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 
  • For more information about our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, here is the link to the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan and to the ODEI landing page.
  • Please note that while the position description details both minimum requirements as well as desired skills and experience, we want to remind applicants that you do not need to have all the desired skills and experience to be considered for this role. If you have the passion for the work along with experience in a related field, you are encouraged to apply. We can provide on-the-job training for the rest.


At NCAR - the National Center for Atmospheric Research - we study weather, water, climate, air quality, and space weather to help protect lives and livelihoods, grow the economy, and enhance our nation’s security and well-being. We collaborate with research partners to advance the science that makes predictions better and with end users to develop applications for forecasters, farmers, resource managers, retailers, the military, and many other stakeholders.

UCAR - the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research - manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation. We are a nonprofit consortium of more than 115 colleges and universities with research and training programs in Earth system science. We bring together the academic community and provide the operational management that are both essential to NCAR's success. UCAR’s community programs, from educational resources to data delivery and other services, extend the reach and impact of NCAR’s world-class research to the community and society.

We seek talented people with diverse backgrounds, training, and skills to join us in our mission of science in service to society. Want to learn more? Visit


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