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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is one of 17 Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories, and operated by Stanford University on behalf of the DOE. SLAC develops and operates some of the world’s premier science facilities, including the first hard X-ray free-electron laser. Research at SLAC explores the structure and function of matter and the properties of energy, space and time, at the smallest and largest scales, all with the goal of solving problems facing society and advancing human knowledge.



Staff Engineer 2 – [Controls and Automation Engineer]

Job Requisition #: 2863
Classification Title: Staff Engineer 2
Grade: K
Location: Menlo Park, CA (HQ)
# of openings: 1



Do you enjoy collaborating with a diverse group of people to solve complex challenges?  Does contributing to breakthrough discoveries in science and working with unique experimental instrumentation in a world-leading scientific research environment excite you? The Photon Controls and Data Systems (PCDS) Department within the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) Directorate at SLAC is seeking a PLC Controls & Automation Engineer to plan, implement, and operate customized experimental installations, and develop enhancements to our scientific instrumentation and supporting hardware and software for PLC-based controls & automation systems.


Reporting to the Automation Group Lead, the Controls and Automation Engineer  will be a member of a multidisciplinary team comprised of electronic engineers and software developers focused on developing software and hardware solutions to support scientific instrumentation, laser systems, controls, and data acquisition systems.  This position will also work with scientific and operations support staff involved in advancing scientific instrumentation capabilities.


LCLS is the world’s first hard x-ray free electron laser (FEL) with unprecedented capabilities in photon energy range, peak power, and pulse lengths. There are seven independent instruments currently in operation, which are specifically designed to utilize the exceptional beam characteristics of the LCLS to probe the structure and dynamics of matter at atomic size and timescales.  The evolution of science and experimental techniques on these instruments, along with upgrades in the x-ray FEL source and optical lasers (LCLS-II), require regular improvements to the supporting software and hardware platforms. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) form the backbone of some of the most vital experiment support systems at LCLS, ranging from robust vacuum control to monitoring & protection of sensitive machine components, to motion control in steering x-ray optics. Additionally, the LCLS-II superconducting upgrade to the accelerator brings new capabilities, equipment, and infrastructure to the experiments that must be designed, developed, and installed prior to first light.  See for more on LCLS and the unique capabilities of our instrument facilities.



  • Manage hardware and software for the PLC controls & automation systems and related infrastructure such as computers and local networks, power supplies, motion systems, vacuum systems, and the like.
  • Participate in upgrades to, and new designs involving, PLC controls & automation systems for vacuum systems, power systems, facility monitoring, pneumatics, cooling, fieldbus networks, mechatronic systems, and similar.
  • Lead the development and support effort for the LCLS PLC programming and development environment, and ensure that collaborative capabilities and a robust development process are maintained and extended as necessary.
  • Develop system specifications and designs to meet stakeholder needs.
  • Produce BoMs and schematic outlines, and be responsible for ensuring successful and on-schedule delivery of a fully commissioned instrument control system from actuator to user interface (HMI).
  • Define, implement, and execute reliability and qualification tests. Design electronic test benches; perform safety and reliability analysis and tests, and develop documentation.
  • Diagnose issues identified in control systems in operation, with subsequent follow-up solutions and recommendations for improvement.
  • Investigate new PLC and automation technologies.
  • Provide expert level support for PLC operations.


Education & Experience:

Bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, physics, engineering or related discipline and minimum 2 years of experience in designing and implementing PLC-based controls solutions for scientific facilities, manufacturing facilities, other facilities with SCADA, or similar.  Advanced degree preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Demonstrated programming skills with IEC 61131-3 standard PLC programming languages such as structured text or ladder diagram.
  • Solid understanding of, and capability in, industrial electrical engineering and signal circuit design.
  • Ability to comprehend, design, specify, and draft electrical and wiring schematics.
  • Experience designing and commissioning industrial fieldbus networks such as: EtherCAT, Profibus, ControlNet, ModbusTCP, etc.
  • Experience in integration of PLC systems into broader SCADA contexts, ADS, OPC UA, Modbus, EtherIP.
  • Experience using a code revision tracking system, SVN or git.
  • Demonstrated effective verbal and written communication skills.

Experience in one or more of the following strongly desired:

  • Familiarity with Beckhoff systems, and TwinCAT 3.1.
  • Statistical Process Control (SPC) software and techniques.
  • Computer software: Linux, Windows, Solid Edge, Visio, Microstation, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation creation.
  • Industrial safety & engineering standards: UL 508, ANSI, OSHA.
  • Computer networking with TCP/IP and UDP.
  • Programming experience in C/C++ and/or Python.
  • Simulation of partial or whole control systems.
  • Development of scientific instrumentation control systems.
  • Experience with software unit testing.
  • Experience with git.
  • Experience with EPICS ( ).
  • Ability to learn and understand the workings of a broad range of hardware and software.
  • Exceptional communications skills and ability to work well in a research and development team.
  • Demonstrated project leadership, planning, and excellent organizational skills.
  • Effective communication with external vendors of equipment and/or services, for purposes of purchasing, outsourcing, or support.
  • Strong problem-solving skills in highly technical applications, and a demonstrated ability of independent decision making for continuous improvement.

SLAC Employee Competencies:

  • Effective Decisions:  Uses job knowledge and solid judgment to make quality decisions in a timely manner.
  • Self-Development:  Pursues a variety of venues and opportunities to continue learning and developing.
  • Dependability:  Can be counted on to deliver results with a sense of personal responsibility for expected outcomes.
  • Initiative:  Pursues work and interactions proactively with optimism, positive energy, and motivation to move things forward.
  • Adaptability:  Flexes as needed when change occurs, maintains an open outlook while adjusting and accommodating changes.
  • Communication:   Ensures effective information flow to various audiences and creates and delivers clear, appropriate written, spoken, presented messages.
  • Relationships:  Builds relationships to foster trust, collaboration, and a positive climate to achieve common goals.

Certifications and Licenses:



  • Frequently grasp lightly/fine manipulation, perform desk-based computer tasks, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 10 pounds.

  • Occasionally stand/walk, sit, twist/bend/stoop/squat, grasp forcefully.

  • Rarely kneel/crawl, climb (ladders, scaffolds, or other), reach/work above shoulders, use a telephone, writing by hand, sort/file paperwork or parts, operate foot and/or hand controls, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh >40 pounds.

* - Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of his or her job.



  • May be exposed to high voltage electricity, radiation or electromagnetic fields, lasers, noise > 80dB TWA, Allergens/Biohazards/Chemicals /Asbestos, confined spaces, working at heights >10 feet, temperature extremes, heavy metals, unusual work hours or routine overtime and/or inclement weather.

  • May require travel.


  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.

  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.

  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University's Administrative Guide,


SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity Employer and supports diversity in the workplace. All employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. All staff at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory must be able to demonstrate the legal right to work in the United States. SLAC is an E-Verify employer.


Final candidates are subject to background checks prior to commencement of employment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Internal candidates, who are selected for hire, may require degree verification and/or credit checks based on requirements of the new position.


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