Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


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Polar Engineer position
Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • Other

UNAVCO, Inc. is accepting applications for an entry level Engineer- I position to support geodetic science in polar latitudes, including Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska.


Tracking Code: 239-532

Application Process: Applications will only be accepted via UNAVCO's career website at  Application review for the Engineer I position will begin July 5, 2022 and continue until the position is filled.

Application materials: Required Resume and Cover Letter outlining your specific experience with and interest in this position.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Location: While UNAVCO supports a robust remote work environment, this job will be located at UNAVCO’s HQ in Boulder, Colorado. Limited opportunities for remote work may be considered once employees are fully trained for this position.

Salary range $58,000 - $87,000 is within the established UNAVCO salary structure and will be based on candidate’s education and qualifications.

Benefits:  UNAVCO offers very competitive benefits including Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, Disability, Supplemental Benefits, 4 weeks Paid Time Off (PTO), and a retirement plan with a 10% employer contribution.

Where You Will Work

UNAVCO maintains and operates the Geodetic Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience (GAGE) which provides support to the NSF investigator community for geodesy, Earth Sciences research, education and workforce development with broad societal benefits. As part of GAGE, UNAVCO operates a large network of geodetic instruments (primarily GNSS) and a world class data facility and archive which provides cyber infrastructure to support the full data life cycle and interoperability with national and international Earth science Data Centers.

For over three decades, UNAVCO has spearheaded the utilization of cutting-edge technologies in support of geodesy while providing robust operational support for researchers exploring the solid Earth (earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics), the hydrosphere (deformation of ice, the Earth's response to groundwater, sea level change), the cryosphere and the atmosphere. Our instrumentation toolbox includes high-precision GPS, LiDAR, TLS, optical imagery, InSAR, and more.

What You Will Do

As a Polar Engineer you will have an exciting and unique opportunity to participate in the support of multiple scientific geodetic endeavors in the Arctic and the Antarctic. This is an excellent opportunity for someone interested in working with GPS/GNSS and geodetic imaging instrumentation while participating in fieldwork, primarily within the earth’s polar latitudes. This position assists with implementing the successful development, planning and evolution of polar geodetic instrument project support for the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs. The Polar Engineer I must be able to travel up to three and a half months each year in direct support of Polar projects, including to locations in Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica. 

The Polar Engineer I position provides support for multiple National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs funded field science efforts. This position is considered entry level, but a solid skill set that includes familiarity with small scale structural design and construction, basic electronics and system troubleshooting is vital.

Essential Job Functions


Implements individual geophysical projects and assists with the coordination of multiple projects of limited complexity, which may include logistics, site reconnaissance, site selection, permitting, installation activities, maintenance, network configuration, instrument operation, station communications and/or data flow activities through the application of high precision geodetic technologies.

  • Under direct supervision, assists with geophysical field projects, which may include:
  • Preparation and installation of integrated GPS, power and communications technology for remote polar applications;
  • Planning and provisioning of field support for technically and logistically complex projects;
  • Operating field instrumentation in challenging environments, performing desktop processing of data collected from GPS, LiDAR and sUAS systems, as well working on day to day project specific equipment testing and management.
  • Assisting in the review and implementation of Principal Investigator (PI) GPS and Terrestrial LiDAR support requirements and workflow planning;
  • Prepares equipment and tools for field deployment, which includes testing systems. Work is overseen by the Engineering Manager and guided by other technical experts.
  • Under direct supervision, assists with identifying and troubleshooting technical issues related to hardware, firmware, software, and data communications.
  • Assists with warehouse organization for field work preparation.
  • Maintains tools and vehicles used for field deployment.
  • Drafts appropriate documentation of field activities and metadata using established tools, protocols, and databases as maintained by the organization and provides post processed data products.
  • Develops and maintains good relationships with community members, suppliers, landowners, and business partners within areas of expertise and project assignments. This may include some non-polar specific field support for geodetic community education and outreach programs.


Additional Responsibilities


  • Submits expenditures in accordance with UNAVCO policy and provides documentation in support of expenses. All purchases are made with the direct oversight of the Engineering Manager.
  • May contribute to scientific and engineering presentations on geophysical project results.
  • May prepare content for the website for review prior to publication.
  • Other duties may be assigned as necessary for the successful operation of the business.


Leadership & Supervision


  • Has frequent communication with, and direct supervision by, Engineering Manager for instruction and guidance.
  • Work is reviewed for accuracy and overall quality.
  • Works with and supports other UNAVCO staff while working on projects.

Applicable Skills / Core Competencies


To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability for the position.

  • Ability to schedule equipment and sufficient work time to ensure the successful execution of multiple project efforts.
  • Ability to work closely with other UNAVCO engineers to plan project support for science teams working in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.
  • Ability to gain and retain knowledge of commonly used concepts, practices, and procedures for geophysical sensors, such as high precision GNSS instruments, Terrestrial Laser Scanners (TLS), small Uncrewed Aerial Systems (sUAS), borehole strainmeters, or related instruments, used within designated project areas.
  • Proficiency in the operation of hand and power tools (i.e., cordless drill, chop saw, grinder, etc.).
  • Ability to take initiative to learn assigned technical/engineering skills within established training time frames to ensure the needs of the project, science community, sponsors and co-workers are met.
  • Ability to work under direct supervision both independently and in a team environment to accomplish project goals.
  • Ability to assess one's interactions and actions to determine responsibility of activities and incidents and ensure personal accountability for the successful completion of projects.
  • Able to convey appropriate information effectively.
  • Ability to apply logic and reasoning to identify problems and participate in decision making, including:
  • Assisting with project assessment, planning, and coordination with members of designated project teams.
  • Assisting with inspecting and testing the quality and performance of geophysical equipment and systems.
  • Determining appropriate tools and equipment needed to complete assigned projects.
  • Assisting with system repairs using the appropriate tools.
  • Assisting with performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Foster a professional culture through the use of strong interpersonal skills, verbal and written communications.

Other Requirements

  • Requires periodic safety training, including wilderness, avalanche, helicopter, first-aid, etc.
  • A valid driver’s license is required.
  • Must be able to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR 391.41-391-.49).
  • Appropriate availability consistent with UNAVCO established practices and norms; hours may exceed 40 hours per week, particularly when in the field.
  • Frequent travel by conventional means including aircraft, motor vehicle, boat, etc.
  • A valid passport is required for polar and international projects.
  • Must be able to meet the Physical Qualification Determination for Arctic and Antarctic deployments (PESJ-POL_2000.09a) for polar assignment.


What You Need


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in engineering, geosciences, or related field at time of hire.
  • Must be able to travel up to three and a half months each year in direct support of Polar projects, including to locations in Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica. 


  • Basic knowledge of DC circuit design and high level systems troubleshooting.
  • Interest/passion in supporting cryospheric/other geoscience field work.

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Physical Requirements


  • Ability to sit and/or stand to work at a computer for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to move about a typical office and warehouse environment on a daily basis.
  • Ability to climb, kneel, balance, and crouch in field settings.
  • Ability to lift, carry, or move up to 75 pounds over uneven terrain and long distances (up to 5 miles).
  • Domestic and international travel in remote or extreme environments by off-road vehicle, helicopter, fixed wing, or other specialty vehicles.
  • Field work conditions may involve high elevation, extreme cold, extreme heat, humidity, noise, hazards, and vibration.

Mental Requirements

  • Ability to understand moderately complex problems and to collaborate and explore alternative solutions.
  • Ability to organize and prioritize work schedules for self and others.
  • Ability to compute, analyze and interpret data.
  • Ability to make decisions which have small impact on the job function and limited impact on UNAVCO in general.
  • Ability to lead and engage in safety training under challenging field conditions.


Applicant Note

We are unable to provide sponsorship for work authorization within the United States.

UNAVCO is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer. Our long-term success depends on the development of a forward-looking, diversified workforce. UNAVCO values diverse perspectives and backgrounds in all positions within the organization and is fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and State laws, and regulations regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. UNAVCO encourages applications from candidates who are members of historically underrepresented groups. This includes candidates from different socioeconomic backgrounds, candidates with disabilities, candidates with unique life experiences, etc. Women, Veterans, Individuals with Disabilities and members of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities are encouraged to apply. All qualified and complete applications will be considered. Individuals with a disability needing an accommodation as part of the employment selection process should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 303-381-7515.

UNAVCO supports a safe work environment for all staff. As part of our commitment, UNAVCO conducts background checks. Background checks will vary and are based on position requirements. Background checks may include but are not limited to, criminal history, sex offender registry, motor vehicle history, financial history and/or education verification. Background checks may also be conducted when required by law or when in the discretion of UNAVCO is reasonable and prudent to do so. UNAVCO complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Vaccination Requirements: All employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of the employee’s duty location or work arrangement (e.g., telework, remote work, etc.), subject to such exceptions as required by law. If offered employment, you will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit documentation of proof of vaccination before your appointment or onboarding with UNAVCO.  Information about requesting a medical or religious accommodation/exemption should be directed to Human Resources at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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