Skip navigation - Jump to main content

Job Description

Research Engineer/Scientist - Principal - Job Code 1497

General Characteristics: Has full technical responsibility for interpreting, organizing, executing, and coordinating assignments. Plans and directs research projects. Coordinates research and development activities between disciplines. This involves exploration of subject area, definition of scope and selection of problems for investigation, and development of novel concepts and approaches. Works on extremely complex problems that impact the design success of current products or addresses broad design issues of future products or technologies; analysis of situations or data requires an evaluation of intangible variance factors. Research has substantial impact that extends knowledge and understanding. Maintains liaison with individuals and units within and outside the project, with responsibility for acting independently on technical matters pertaining to own field. This level usually requires extensive progressive experience, including work comparable to Senior level.

Knowledge: Recognized as a national or international authority; applies extensive and advanced principles, theories and concepts, and contributes to the development of solutions to complex problems that require innovation and ingenuity.

Direction received: Without technical supervision, demonstrates sustained innovation and creativity leading to significant project accomplishments. Supervision received is essentially administrative, with assignments given in terms of broad general objectives and limits.

Typical duties and responsibilities: One or more of the following:

1) As an individual contributor, conceives, plans and conducts research in problem areas of considerable scope and complexity. The problems must be approached through a series of complete and conceptually related studies, are difficult to define, require unconventional or novel approaches, and require sophisticated research techniques. Incumbent demonstrates superior scope and breadth of research through the creation of new concepts, applications, processes, designs or the identification of new areas of research. Available guides and precedents contain critical gaps, are only partially related to the problem, or may be largely lacking due to the novel character of the project. At this level, the individual researcher generally will have contributed inventions, new designs, or techniques that are of material significance in the solution of important problems.

2) In a supervisory capacity, plans, develops, coordinates, and directs a number of large and significant projects or a project of major scope and importance. May be responsible for an entire scientific and/or engineering program when the program is of limited complexity and scope. Supervisory responsibilities usually encompass subordinate supervisors or team leaders (3-5) with at least one in a position comparable to the Senior level.

3) As a staff specialist, serves as the technical lead for the unit/laboratory in the application of advanced theories, concepts, principles, and processes for an assigned area of responsibility (i.e. , subject matter, function, type of facility or equipment, or product). Stays abreast of new technical methods and developments affecting the unit/laboratory for the purpose of recommending changes in emphasis of programs or new programs warranted by such developments.

Proposes and leads new initiatives; guides programs of national or international significance. Primary resource to UW and customers in identifying future problems, research trends and opportunities. Presents papers, leads symposia and chairs committees; participates on advisory/policy boards, journals and societies; serves as peer reviewer of major technical programs; networks nationally and internationally. Contributions enhance Department/UW staff, business volume, and facilities/equipment. Plays a lead role in the development and implementation of new and/or expanded technical capabilities that will impact future research projects; reputation leads to ability to attract major funding. Typically would direct and/or participate in major proposal preparation and presentation.

Responsibility for directing others: Plans, organizes, and supervises the work of a staff of scientists, engineers, and technicians. Evaluates progress of the staff and results obtained, and recommends major changes to achieve overall objectives. Defines staffing needs, selection/ assessment criteria, and hiring process for research/engineering staff. As an individual researcher or staff specialist, may be assisted on individual projects by staff scientists/engineers.

Education requirement, minimum: PhD degree; Master's degree candidates with exceptional qualifications may be considered.

Experience requirement, minimum: Six or more years in a related area, or equivalent combination of education/experience. This level is not reached on the basis of seniority and satisfactory performance alone. It is based on outstanding qualifications and the needs of the department/laboratory.