Research Agricultural Engineer/Mechanical Engineer/Electrical Engineer

Beltsville, Maryland
May 17, 2022
May 22, 2022
Full Time

  • Conducts research to develop and validate spectroscopic and spectral imaging technologies that can be used for high-throughput food safety evaluation of large volumes of complex food matrices and food ingredients.
  • Conducts research to develop sensing technologies for food ingredient authentication and for biological and chemical contamination detection addressing both targeted and non-targeted contaminants.
  • Conducts research to develop novel instruments and sensing technologies and to transform these technologies into practical instrumentation for scientific and industrial implementation.
  • Adapts and implements new sensing technologies and methodologies to portable imaging devices for food production and processing environment applications.
  • Prepares written work documents on sensing methodologies and technologies research to be reviewed and/or published in professional articles, publications, and technical abstracts, and present research findings at scientific meetings.


Conditions of Employment

  • You must be a US Citizen or US National
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be Selective Service registered or exempt
  • Subject to satisfactory adjudication of background investigation and/or fingerprint check
  • Direct Deposit ? Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to their financial institution.
  • Successfully pass the E-Verify employment verification check. To learn more about E-Verify, including your rights and responsibilities, visit E-Verify at
  • Successful completion of a three year probationary period.


Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including specialized experience and/or education, as defined below.
Minimum qualification requirements are found in the OPM Qualification Standards Operating Manual for General Schedule Positions. Qualification requirements must be identified for each grade level advertised.

Agricultural Engineer (0890 Series)/Mechanical Engineer (0830 Series)/Electrical Engineer (0850 Series)

Degree: Engineering; To be acceptable, the program must: (1) lead to a bachelor's degree in a school of engineering with at least one program accredited by ABET; or (2)include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.


Combination of education and experience -- college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. The adequacy of such background must be demonstrated by one of the following:

1. Professional registration or licensure -- Current registration as an Engineer Intern (EI), Engineer in Training (EIT)1, or licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board's eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.

.2. Written Test -- Evidence of having successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE)2 examination or any other written test required for professional registration by an engineering licensure board in the various States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

3. Specified academic courses -- Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and that included the courses specified in the basic requirements under paragraph A. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of an engineering program as described in paragraph A.

4. Related curriculum -- Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in an appropriate scientific field, e.g., engineering technology, physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a bachelor's degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance. Ordinarily there should be either an established plan of intensive training to develop professional engineering competence, or several years of prior professional engineering-type experience, e.g., in interdisciplinary positions. (The above examples of related curricula are not all-inclusive.)

Additional Requirements

In addition to meeting the basic requirements described above, applicants must also meet Specialized Experience requirements as stated below.

GS-12: Applicants must demonstrate at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level in the Federal service or possess a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree or possess an equivalent combination of graduate level education and experience. Graduate education must be directly related to the work of the position and must have equipped applicants with the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work. Applicants must possess one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level in the Federal service. Specialized experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled. Specialized experience requirements for the GS-12 level are defined as:
  • Contributions to team research related to spectroscopy, spectral imaging technologies and methodologies including use of multivariate analysis tools and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) algorithms, and
  • Experience in research and development of optical sensing instrumentation and software interface for rapid assessment of food materials and agricultural products, and
  • Communicating results through peer-reviewed scientific journals as first author, and giving presentations at scientific meetings.

GS-13: Applicants must possess one year of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level in the Federal service. Specialized experience is experience directly related to the position to be filled. Specialized experience requirements for the GS-13 level are defined as:
  • Experience as primary contributor to the development of spectroscopic and spectral imaging systems, including user-friendly software interfaces, for safety and quality evaluation of food materials and agricultural products; and
  • Leading research using spectral imaging technologies including hyperspectral and multispectral, visible/near-infrared reflectance, fluorescence and Raman chemical imaging; and
  • Experience in analyzing spectroscopic and hyperspectral imaging data using multivariate analysis tools and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) for development of rapid, nondestructive sensing techniques; and
  • Communicating results through peer-reviewed scientific journals as first author, and giving presentations at scientific meetings.

To further support your qualifications, it is strongly recommended that you submit a one-page abstract of your MS thesis and/or Ph.D. dissertation. Failure to do so could result in loss of your consideration/referral. Also, please submit a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of persons familiar with your stature, contributions, recognition; any honors or awards received; memberships in professional or honor societies; invitations to make presentations at scientific/technical meetings; scientific society office and committee assignments; presentations (other than invitation); and publications.
Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.
Applicants must be available to report for duty at the time a selection is made. Selections are typically made within 30 days of the closing date of the announcement


Please see above for education qualification requirement information.

Additional information

Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): Visit the OPM website for information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible. To exercise selection priority for this vacancy, CTAP/RPL/ICTAP candidates must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors. CTAP/ICTAP candidates must be rated and determined to be well qualified (or above) based on an evaluation of the competencies listed in the How You Will Be Evaluated section. When assessed through a score-based category rating method, CTAP/ICTAP applicants must receive a rating of at least 71 out of a possible 100.
Recruitment or Relocation Incentive may be authorized. Final determination to pay an incentive will be made by the hiring official at time of job offer.

This position may be eligible to telework up to four days per week, based upon the duties of the position. This position may also be eligible for flexible work arrangements as determined by agency policy and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Therefore, to the extent a Federal job announcement includes the requirement that applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to E.O. 14043, that requirement does not currently apply. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.