Instrument Maker

Job Link: 

Job Description: 

The Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics (CENPA) has an outstanding opportunity for an Instrument Maker. CENPA is a Department of Energy Center of Excellence with world leading experiments in nuclear physics and astrophysics. These experiments are located at University of Washington’s Seattle Campus as well as across North America and Europe. The experiments involve ultra-high vacuum techniques, high voltages, cryogenics, clean room operation, low background materials, and precision fabrication employing a wide range of materials. The design and much of the fabrication and testing is carried out in the machine and electronics shops and labs  at CENPA.



This position is for an Instrument Maker III. The successful candidate will perform highly complex, high precision work by setting up and operating precision manual and computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine tools such as lathes, mills, jig borers, horizontal boring mill, grinders, and drill presses, to fabricate parts for research, academic and medical purposes. Included are the requirements to be able to resolve highly complex design and manufacturing problems such as performing design work from verbal or minimal written instructions to manufacture mechanical devices; determining tolerances and fits on mechanical designs; performing advanced jig and fixture design, diagnosing, troubleshooting, repairing, and rebuilding machine tools and mechanical devices.




  • The work will involve interacting with professors, scientists, engineers, and students.
  • The work will require offering advice and working from drawings that range from CAD drawings to sketches.
  • In addition to fabricating hardware, the applicant will participate in its assembly and initial testing. When necessary, this will include refinement of the apparatus. 
  • This position will also be responsible for overseeing the CENPA Student Machine Shop and periodically providing instruction to students operating the machines.
  • The work will include design, specification, purchase, and building components of scientific apparatus following the general directions of faculty.
  • Use of three-dimensional modeling software, such as Inventor or Solidworks.
  • Writing computer numerical control (CNC) programs using conversational programming language at the machine control or off-line at a computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) system. 
  • Determine and plan inspection criteria required to prove the repeatable accuracy of high-tolerance components and devices.
  • Perform inspections with appropriate gauges and measuring machines. 
  • Troubleshoot, repair, and rebuild machine tools and/or complex electro-mechanical devices. 
  • Perform sheet metal work and welding, including weld joint design, filler metal selection and general weld engineering. 
  • Perform duties of Instrument Maker II. 
  • Perform related duties as required.


Minimum Qualifications:

  • Two years of experience as an Instrument Maker II OR Equivalent education/experience.
  • Proficiency in close-tolerance manual machining, including use of mills, lathes, drill presses, grinders, saws and hand tools.
  • Proficient in CNC programing.
  • Proficient at operating CNC mills and lathes.
  • Proficient at welding, brazing, and soldering.

Intermediate skill level with a CAD program. Inventor preferred.



  • Ability to make clear presentations, write reports and document procedures.
  • Ability to work successfully on multiple concurrent projects, and to work with a team.
  • Knowledge of the machinability of metals, ceramics, plastics and composites and silicones.
  • Ability to estimate job cost per design and to suggest value-engineering enhancements that minimize time and cost.
  • Ability to document procedures.
  • Ability to carry out load and stress calculations of components.
  • Openness to novel concepts of research apparatus, methods, and procedures and ability to find solutions to problems.
  • Experience with liquid cryogens, preferably including liquid helium.
  • Familiarity with compressors and expanders.
  • Vacuum system assembly, including machining knife edge seals for CF gaskets, vacuum tight welding, and troubleshooting vacuum leaks.


Desired certifications (available as University of Washington training courses):

  • Forklift operator safety and certification.
  • Overhead lift operator safety and certification


State of Washington job descriptions can be found on the website of the Office of Financial Management at:


Search terms:

Instrument maker 2

Instrument maker 3