We use cookies. Find out more about it here. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Job posting has expired

Back to search results

Associate Mechanical Engineer

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
United States, Maryland, Chevy Chase
4000 Jones Bridge Road (Show on map)
November 16, 2022
Primary Work Address: 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, VA, 20147 Current HHMI Employees, click here to apply via your Workday account.

Janelia Research Campus is a pioneering research center in Ashburn, Virginia, where scientists pursue fundamental questions in neuroscience and imaging. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) launched Janelia in 2006, establishing an intellectually distinctive environment for scientists to do creative, collaborative, hands-on work. Our integrated teams of biologists, computational scientists, and tool-builders pursue a small number of scientific questions with potential for transformative impact. We share our methods, results, and tools with the scientific community. It is a uniquely innovative and collaborative atmosphere that reflects HHMI's reputation for excellence.


The Janelia Experimental Technology group (jET) is seeking highly talented and ambitious college grads to join our team and to be a part of the unique Janelia experience. We have recently established the jET internship (jETi) program with a current focus on recruiting recent Bachelors in Optical and Mechanical Engineering as well as college graduates with an advanced degree in Optics or AMO physics for intensive, renewable 1-year contracts during which you will get hands-on experience working on jET projects at the interface of engineering, neuroscience, cell biology, and optical imaging research.

Initially, jET interns will be dedicated to learning engineering tools and best practices by assisting staff engineers and scientists in ongoing work. Later on, jET interns will be expected to work independently on projects appropriate for a junior member of the jET team. At the end of the term, successful jETis will be given an opportunity to renew their contracts for an additional year with the limit of up to 2 renewals (3 years maximum tenure). If conditions in future allow for hiring additional jET full-time staff, proven-qualified jET interns would be excellent candidates for such positions.

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.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Design, develop, assemble, integrate, test, debug, modify, and optimize simple to complex systems, instruments, and one-of-a-kind prototypes for research. Applications will include development of systems, sub-assemblies and component parts.

  • Study project concepts, objectives, priorities, and requirements as well as analyze user and potential user input to identify and establish performance requirements and test methods for developed systems. Translate these requirements into engineering concepts, designs and plans.

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

  • Review existing and/or create new detailed drawings, bills of materials, and other documentation to ensure accurate technical records are produced.

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

  • Review or coordinate vendor activities to support development as needed.

  • Communicate all activities within assigned projects with the research customer, jET team members, Engineering Manager and Director.

  • Recommend actions for professional self-development.


  • This position has limited project budgetary responsibilities.

  • Occasional travel required.

  • Occasional weekend or off-hours work required.

  • Utilizes internal resources and outside contractors to achieve project and department goals.



  • Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering


  • Hands-on experience with mechanical design and implementation of instrumentation and/or automation is preferred.

  • Familiarity with R&D instrument development for neuroscience, life science or natural science research is a plus.

Skills and Abilities:


  • Strong technical aptitude in mechanical engineering theory, principles, and practice. Ability to lead the technical aspect of assigned projects by utilizing engineering domain knowledge and understanding.

  • 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 required for engineering discipline.

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

  • Ability to create mechanical parts and assemblies, as well as create necessary fabrication documentation using 3D CAD modeling 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


  • Experience with 3D printing and part design.

  • Experience with mechanical fabrication and use of hand tools.

  • Familiarity using documentation management software (e.g. Autodesk Vault).

  • Familiarity with systems engineering software (e.g. LabVIEW).

  • Familiarity with scientific computing software (e.g. MATLAB, Python, etc.).

  • Knowledge of electro-mechanical systems: servos, positioning systems, piezoelectric devices, position feedback devices

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; 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 several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet).

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 site to learn more.

HHMI is an Equal Opportunity Employer