Battelle Memorial Institute Airborne Sensor Operations and Data Processing Technician in Boulder, Colorado

Battelle is guided by a founding mission. We invest our knowledge, talents and resources, helping our customers achieve their most important goals. We apply scientific rigor and creativity, succeeding where others may fail, and we invest in our communities, making the world better for generations to come. All of us share a common purpose: to solve the greatest challenges of today and tomorrow.

Our 22,000 employees work at the forefront of scientific innovation to tackle critical challenges in security, human health, manufacturing, energy and environmental management. Battelle’s work is grounded in the belief that science, technology and a passion for excellence can make industries more competitive and the world a better place.

Primary Function

Battelle manages and operates the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project, which is solely funded by the National Science Foundation. A 30+ year project dedicated to understanding how changes in climate, land use and invasive species impact ecology, the observatory’s scientists and engineers are collecting a comprehensive range of ecological data on a continental scale across 20 eco-climatic domains representing US ecosystems. Our teams use cutting-edge technology, including an airborne observation platform that captures images of regional landscapes and vegetation; mobile, relocatable, and fixed data collection sites with automated ground sensors to monitor soil and atmosphere; and trained field crews who observe and sample populations of diverse organisms and collect soil and water data. Once structures are completed, a leading edge cyberinfrastructure will calibrate, store and publish this information. The Observatory includes more than 500+ personnel and is the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales.

We are currently seeking Airborne Sensor Operations and Data Processing Technician . This position is located in Boulder, CO .


The Airborne Sensor Operator and Data Processing Technician conducts airborne surveys and post-processing of data of NEON sites (which are distributed across United States) during research flights. The incumbent may support instrument calibration and maintenance in the field. The candidate will deploy with the AOP flight team up to 25 days at a time; will work extended hours; and will fly onboard the airborne system for extended periods. When not deployed for survey collections, the candidate will be responsible for post-processing of GPS/IMU and discrete LiDAR data to the required final deliverable Level-1/ Level-3 products. The ideal candidate will have a background in airborne data survey collections and be familiar with all phases of LiDAR processing: flight planning, airborne GPS/IMU processing, QAQC procedures and reporting, required accuracy specifications, LiDAR manufacturer’s proprietary software, classification/editing procedures, bore-sighting, calibration, and data product development.

Major Responsibilities

  • Collect aerial ecological data (e.g., regional landscapes, and vegetation).

  • Conduct data acquisition using Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) systems, during flight operations.

  • Operate, monitor and trouble shoot aircraft-mounted instrumentation and equipment to acquire ecological data, according to AOP protocols.

  • Manage, evaluate and analyze multi-source data (e.g., QA/QC, configure, backup raw data sets) and dispatch output to data processing facility.

  • Deploy and maintain ground systems (GPS base stations) to remote locations as required for aerial surveys.

  • Ability to generate, build and update working checklists.

  • Prepare and deliver reports about AOP remote sensing systems and acquired data.

  • Perform instrument calibration and maintenance in the field.

  • Complete flight operations training.

  • Follow FAA, NEON and site specific, flight safety and environmental protection requirements, policy and procedures.

  • Run existing COTS software and algorithms to generate Level 1 trajectories and discrete LiDAR remote sensing data products.

  • Run in-house software for generating Level 3 products.

  • Perform data quality control and generate reports on data product quality to ensure their effective use by the science community.

  • Coordinate with the Cyberinfrastructure group within NEON to implement AOP processing algorithms into the production segment.

  • Contribute to the development of remote sensing science data products in the subject areas of bioclimate, biodiversity, biogeochemistry, and land use utilizing hyperspectral, LiDAR, and/or high resolution color digital imagery.


  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident

  • Current FAA Third Class Medical certificate or the ability to obtain one (requires drug screening).

  • Ability to obtain a TSA flight badge (requires federal background check) and a valid U.S. driver’s license.

  • Education and or formal training equivalent to the completion of a two year technical degree or trade school in related field.

  • 3 years’ experience with the operation and maintenance of remote sensing imaging systems or equivalent electronic/electro-optical equipment.

  • 3 years’ experience using software tools and packages for LiDAR processing and management and feature extraction.

  • Highly skilled with different computer programs and ability to learn new programs/technology.

  • Experienced in flight crew operations.

  • Ability to work in enclosed spaces and not prone to motion sickness.

  • Ability to make timely and accurate decisions during flight operations.

  • Pay strict attention to details and always be focused on maximizing production while maintaining quality control.

  • Ability to work well with others, be team oriented, helpful and a good problem solver.

  • Ability to read, understand and apply technical information from procedural manuals, written and verbal instructions, guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures.

  • Ability to identify and clearly communicate problems, issues with data or instructions.

  • Ability to interpret an extensive variety of technical instructions in mathematical or diagram form and deal with several abstract and concrete variables.

  • Willingness to travel for extended periods, work long hours, and/or non-regular hours

  • Very effective written and verbal communication skills.

  • A high degree of motivation, self-reliance, initiative and organizational ability.


  • Demonstrated experience with airborne imaging spectrometers, and/or LIDAR’s or equivalent.

  • Familiarity with scientific data acquisition systems, particularly airborne instrumentation.

  • Experience in the use of ground GPS navigational systems.

  • Experience with LiDAR flight planning and LiDAR data calibration.

  • Knowledge of visualization and post-processing tools, including at least one of the following: IDL, MatLab, Python, NCL.

  • Knowledge of fata analysis and statistical methods for processing remote sensing data.

  • Knowledge of optical pointing models and application of standard geolocation techniques.

  • Experience working in a collaborative scientific or engineering enterprise.

  • Demonstrated ability to write technical and scientific documents.

Legal Disclaimer

The above statements are intended to describe the nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this job. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, activities and skills required of staff members. No statement herein is intended to imply any authorities to commit Battelle unless special written permission is granted by Battelle's Legal Department.


Battelle’s competitive benefits program includes comprehensive medical and dental care, matching 401K, paid time off, flexible spending accounts, disability coverage, and other benefits that help provide financial protection for you and your family.

Battelle provides employment and opportunities for advancement, compensation, training, and growth according to individual merit, without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, genetic information, disability, veteran-status, or any other characteristic protected under applicable Federal, state, or local law. Our goal is for each staff member to have the opportunity to grow to the limits of their abilities and to achieve personal and organizational objectives. We will support positive programs for equal treatment of all staff and full utilization of all qualified employees at all levels within Battelle.

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