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Biological Technical Specialist

Apply now Job no: 494500
Work type: Full Time
Location: Swarthmore
Categories: Staff

Swarthmore College is a highly selective liberal arts college located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, whose mission combines academic rigor with social responsibility. Swarthmore has a strong institutional commitment to inclusive excellence and nondiscrimination in its educational program and employment practices and encourages candidates who will further advance the goal of fostering a diverse and inclusive community. As one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning, Swarthmore College is global in outlook and draws students from around the nation and world. The 425‐acre campus is a designated arboretum, complete with gardens, rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails in the Crum Woods.

The Biology Department is seeking a Biological Technical Specialist who will flexibly provide a broad range of technical support and training to Biology Department faculty, students and staff. Design, construct, troubleshoot and maintain Biology Department scientific instruments, equipment, and laboratory apparatus for teaching and research in the laboratory, classroom and field. Coordinate management of Biology Department facilities and equipment in Singer Hall.

Essential Responsibilities:
Instrumentation Fabrication, Repair and Maintenance, 30%
In order to support the research and teaching equipment needs of the Biology Department:

  • Troubleshoot and maintain the Department’s scientific research equipment. Help with training when appropriate.
  • Design and construct scientific research equipment in collaboration with faculty and staff.
  • Document work and maintain maintenance records.
  • Assist faculty and staff in specifying and purchasing equipment.

Manage the Biology laboratories and other spaces in Singer Hall, 15%
In order to ensure the functionality of Biology Department spaces in Singer Hall:

  • Manage immediate and preventive maintenance requests with Facilities Management in response to faculty, staff and student needs.
  • Act as liaison between Facilities Management and the Biology Department.
  • Perform minor building maintenance repairs.
  • Serve as day-to-day liaison among contractors, Facilities Management and Biology faculty and staff during construction/renovation projects in Singer Hall.

Support student and faculty use of the Biology shop, 10%
In order to enable students and faculty to take an active role in building and maintaining technical equipment:

  • Teach and help students and faculty how to use the shop for projects. Hold workshops to train students how to use the power tools and other shop equipment.

Manage the Biology Department Shop, 10%
In order to maintain a functional Biology Department shop:

  • Specify and order materials, tools and equipment necessary for the fabrication of faculty, staff and student projects and for the repair of scientific equipment. Maintain parts and supplies inventories.

Flexible support for other departmental needs, ongoing professional development 10%
In order to ensure the functionality of Biology Department:

  • Help with other technical and non-technical tasks as needed, including tasks such as receiving and moving equipment and supplies and occasionally assisting other department employees with tasks not listed in this job description when there are unexpected needs.
  • Learn new skills in courses and other training opportunities as well as independently.

Maintain the water purification systems, 7.5%
In order to ensure reliable access to purified water in the Biology Department:

  • Establish and implement a regular maintenance schedule for the RO/DI and ultrapure water systems in Singer Hall.

Manage gas and pressurized liquid cylinders, 5%
In order to ensure safe and reliable access to compressed gasses and liquids in the Biology Department:

  • Manage gas and pressurized liquid cylinder usage in laboratories and the shop; provide installation, removal and proper storage of compressed gas cylinders.
  • Initiate timely refilling and safety testing of cylinders by outside contractors.

Respond to equipment and facilities failures and alarms, 5%
In order to ensure the integrity of research reagents and the health of plants and animals in the Biology Department:

  • Respond to and resolve equipment and facilities failures (freezers, fridges, environmental chambers and cold rooms, etc.).
  • Help faculty to ensure the integrity of their research reagents.
  • Be available to respond to emergency calls outside of normal working hours, if necessary.

Manage the Biology Department vans, 5% [until the College wide vehicle pool goes into effect]
In order to ensure the functionality of Biology Department vehicles for class field trips and field research:

  • Keep three passenger vans in optimum mechanical condition for safe use by Biology Department faculty, staff, and students.
  • Arrange for periodic van maintenance, annual PA State Safety and Emissions Inspection, and all vehicle repairs.
  • Maintain van reservation schedule and up to date repair records, vehicle registration and insurance documentation.

Additional Responsibilities:
Supervise Student Workers, 2.5%
Supervise paid student workers who assist with various tasks.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree and three years related work experience or an Associate degree and five years related work experience
  • Degree and experience should be in a Science or Engineering related discipline
  • Strong organizational, oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to schedule and prioritize multiple tasks and work under deadlines
  • An interest in science, flexibility and willingness to learn and take on new tasks
  • Maintain collegial relationships with faculty, staff and students and willingness and interest to teach others.
  • Work collaboratively with technical staff in the Physics and Engineering departments and the maker space
  • Ability to design and construct custom scientific equipment that can be reliably used by department members
  • Willingness to respond to emergency equipment failures and building maintenance issues that require immediate attention
  • Ability to establish respectful working relationship and open rapport with Facilities personnel

Technical Knowledge and Skills:
Requires broad technical expertise consistent with working in a high level, challenging scientific research and teaching environment. Has experience and expertise in three or more of the following areas:

  • Use of scientific equipment in a research environment
  • Electronics and electrical design and repair
  • Computer hardware and software
  • Ability to design and build customized scientific equipment including equipment that incorporates microcontrollers (such as Arduino) and sensors.
  • Metal working using manual and CNC equipment
  • Woodworking using hand and power equipment
  • 2D and 3D design
  • Laser and water cutting
  • 3D printing
  • Working with hydraulic, pneumatic, and vacuum systems
  • Building maintenance including plumbing and electrical

Physical Requirements:

  • Must be physically able to lift equipment/material weighing up to 50 lbs
  • Must be able to lift and/or move large equipment/material with the aid of mechanical lifts, dollies, carts, etc.
  • Must assist in unloading straight body and tractor trailer trucks when refrigerators, freezers, incubators or other equipment, furniture or supplies are delivered to the Biology Department, and to move shipments to their designated place inside Singer Hall.

Swarthmore College actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world. Swarthmore College is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. 

Advertised: Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close:

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