Planetarium and Production Support Engineer I

San Francisco, CA
Full Time

The Planetarium Experience Engineering Team at the California Academy of Sciences is seeking a driven problem-solver to support our mission of science education’s role in the regeneration of the natural world. A successful candidate will bring their unique perspective and talents to the complex technology and software problems that power Morrison Planetarium: the largest “computer monitor” and immersive visualization environment in San Francisco. This junior position on the engineering team will also have special focus on development and training on the unique skillset needed.

Come join a team dedicated to the Academy’s mission, vision and values! Currently, the Academy has a new strategic plan including three initiatives – Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030 – that leverage biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement to regenerate fragile ecosystems around the world. Learn more at

We hope you are inspired by what we do and are excited to contribute to our mission. The Academy is looking for candidates who do great work, and we know they may come from a number of different backgrounds and experiences. We encourage you to apply even if you do not believe you meet every ­one of the qualifications for the position.

The position is an onsite position and can change as business needs warrant. The candidate must easily be able to work onsite in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco when needed. Candidates are required to have up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving a booster shot, as a condition of employment, absent qualifying exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. Individuals receiving a conditional offer of employment from the California Academy of Sciences will be provided the full text of the vaccination policy.

Have you ever dreamed of working on a starship, supporting the systems that power the exploration and understanding of the Universe? Do you love building, tinkering, modding, and tuning software and hardware to meet your needs? Do you like the challenge of figuring out original solutions to novel problems?

The Planetarium & Production Support Engineer I is a member of the Planetarium Experience Engineering Team that maintains the systems of Morrison Planetarium and other immersive venues at the California Academy of Sciences. The team is dedicated to maintaining high reliability and uptime for the theater, ease-of-use for operators, and keeping the planetarium at the forefront of immersive technology and techniques as a respected industry leader.

This position reports to the Manager, Planetarium Engineering in the Experience Engineering Department. The team provides engineering and technical support to the Planetarium, Science Visualization Studio, Exhibitions, Scientific Research, Special Events, and other public venues related to the Academy’s mission. This position will work closely with other computing and technology groups throughout the Academy, including Exhibits Experience Engineering, Events Experience Engineering, Visualization Studio Engineering, Information Technology and Science Computing.

The position will be required to work some nights, weekends and holidays.

We are committed to ensuring diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion are intrinsic to Academy culture and operations, from recruitment and retention to science and advocacy. Explore Our Commitment to Racial Equity to learn about our intentional engagement of traditionally excluded groups in an effort to spark interest in or foster pathways to scientific careers.


  • Perform daily assurance of show systems’ readiness - including all computer and technical systems, seats, screens, etc.
  • Perform routine maintenance on Planetarium systems - including repairs on critical systems.
  • Assists with system maintenance tasks including calibrations, edge blending, color matching, etc.
  • Assist with design and implementation of systems and applications to enhance system performance and visitor experience.
  • Collaborate with presenters, producers, school curriculum coordinators and engineers on the production of Planetarium and related venue programming (nightlife programs, general public programs, and evening special events).
  • Create digital productions and digital content for presentation in planetarium shows, including custom full dome real-time content as requested for internal partner departments and external clients on firm deadlines.
  • Assist in acquiring, managing and curating data sets for Morrison Planetarium and related venue programs.
  • Assist as “flight engineer” in presentations for live audiences, and share best practices for show navigation with presenter staff.
  • Operate Planetarium Systems and supervise vendors/clients for evening events in the Planetarium.
  • Provide exceptional customer service for internal events and rental clients using the planetarium.
  • Assist and review hardware and software acquisition to ensure compatibility and effectiveness.
  • Collaborate and provide user support for departments throughout the Academy with their technology needs, including Exhibits, Science Visualization Studio, Public Programs and Education, Information Technology, and others.
  • Assist with the diagnosis and correction on system failures/improvements related to the Planetarium and/or the Science Visualization Studio.
  • Install/de-install equipment and generate/maintain documentation of systems.
  • Receive cross-training from other teams within EE to cover weekends and holidays.
  • Follow all Academy safety regulations
  • Other duties as assigned

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


  • 3+ years of experience in hands-on audio-visual or computer systems technical work, including design, installation, and maintenance.
  • Experience with fulldome projection, video walls or projection mapping is a plus.
  • Experience with astronomy simulation software or computational astronomy is a plus.


  • Dedication to problem solving and the engineering spirit to explore and discover new ways of doing things.
  • Knowledge of computer and electronics systems and electronics engineering tools.
  • Computer literate (PCs, Mac, Linux or other industrial systems and software).
  • Familiarity with command-line interfaces for Windows, Mac or Linux and knowledge of batch/shell scripting.
  • Ability and creativity to successfully undertake complex designs, repairs, and programming scripts to enhance operations and visitors experience.
  • Must know how to generate and read technical schematics/diagrams (CAD).
  • Able to communicate technical and non-technical information in a clear and easy manner in written or verbal communications
  • Willingness to ask questions and share knowledge.
  • Ability to participate in group meetings, collaborative team projects, and work well with interdepartmental teams.
  • Able to multitask, perform detailed work, and successfully complete assignments in a timely manner.
  • Ability to write daily correspondence and produce technical documentation.
  • Ability to speak effectively before groups or individuals.
  • Must be able to work weekends/holidays and evenings.


  • Knowledge of planetarium, exhibits, theater, and/or science visualization systems and software.
  • Knowledge and experience with planetarium specific astronomy simulation software, especially Uniview or OpenSpace.
  • Experience with visual effects, real-time graphics, science visualization or audio/visual production and support.
  • Working knowledge of production applications useful for planetariums including 3D graphics software such as Blender, audio production software such as Avid ProTools, GIS software tools such as Esri/QGIS or GDAL, and video and image processing tools such as Adobe AfterEffects and Photoshop.
  • Knowledge in at least one programming or scripting language (classroom experience is acceptable). Python, Javascript, C# or C++ preferred.


This is an on-site position, providing direct support to live systems at the California Academy of Sciences. The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.  While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to work in dark, confined spaces and high areas, stand, sit, walk, and reach or manipulate with hands and arms, and talk or hear, climb a ladder or work from an elevated lift. Must be able to perform repetitive motions 50% of the time.  Must be able to lift 50 lbs.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: This position is open until filled. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled or October 1, 2022.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Please upload a resume and complete the brief online application.

The California Academy of Sciences will give full consideration for employment to all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to ensure that all employees and applicants receive equal consideration and treatment, regardless of race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity or gender expression), religion, marital or domestic partner status, age, place of birth, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, height or weight, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.


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