Schatz Energy Research Center
Two people measure the efficiency of a solar water pump
Testing solar water pumps

Open position at the Schatz Center: Research Assistant or Engineering Technician

We have an opening for a Research Assistant or Engineering Technician to work in our off-grid solar and lighting laboratory and assist with administrative and research tasks for our off-grid energy access team. The position is based in Arcata, California (USA).

A one-year commitment is required (from November 2019 through October 2020) with a performance evaluation after three months of employment. Reappointment is possible and desirable and is contingent on funding, workload requirements, and performance. 

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The Schatz Center’s off-grid solar and lighting laboratory research focuses on technical issues related to the performance and quality of modern off-grid solar products that are used by people living in off- or weak-grid areas of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the wider developing world. These technologies play an important role in increasing energy access for the more than 1 billion people living without reliable grid electricity. The Schatz Center is also the technical lead for the Lighting Global Quality Assurance program, which provides third-party verification and market support for off-grid solar products.


Compensation is $22.23-$24.51 per hour, depending on skills and experience. The position is full-time, benefited, and non-exempt (hourly). Benefits include medical, dental, vision, and life coverage. Retirement benefits become available after one year of service. This is not a state position.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Assist with communications to off-grid solar product manufacturers 
  • Review program documents, policies, reports, and spreadsheets
  • Conduct data entry, data clean-up and analysis of program data
  • Collaborate with other members of the Lighting Global team to contribute to programmatic decisions
  • Help conduct performance tests for solar-powered products for off-grid applications
  • Carry out instrument calibrations and technical tasks associated with ensuring the accuracy of laboratory test results
  • Analyze test data and both write and review reports associated with laboratory activities
  • Develop and review standard operating procedures (SOPs) for test methods
  • Assist with desk research regarding quality standards and energy access
  • Prepare quarterly programmatic monitoring and deliverables memos/reports
  • Perform other tasks to assist the test lab and quality assurance program, as necessary

The activities of the selected applicant may vary depending on the person’s skills and experience. Additionally, this position may involve opportunities for international travel depending on the project’s budget and team needs.  


Minimum Qualifications:

  • Eligible candidates should be PC literate and able to skillfully use Word and Excel, be detail-oriented, have excellent communication, writing, and organizational skills, and possess a technical background or interest to learn technical skills. 

Desirable Qualifications (note that candidates are not expected to have qualifications in all of the listed areas):

  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field
  • Excellent technical writing skills
  • Ability to be creative and flexible to adapt to an ever-evolving program
  • Customer service or professional online/phone communications experience
  • Experience with research, data analysis, and/or policy development
  • Experience with electronics design, fabrication, and/or testing 
  • Laboratory experience (laboratory measurements using electronic instrumentation, data analysis, record keeping, calibration, etc.)
  • Experience with solar energy, rechargeable batteries, and/or efficient lighting systems
  • Experience teaching or conducting technical trainings
  • Experience working with an international team
  • Ability to travel for extended periods up to 5 weeks, including internationally
  • Experience with and knowledge of social issues in the developing world, particularly in Africa and Asia
  • Language skills relevant to the work in Africa and Asia, such as French, Chinese, Swahili or Hindi

Application procedure

Applicants should submit (i) a letter of application, (ii) a one-page resume, and (iii) an HSU SPF Employee Information Form for Applicants to the Schatz Center via email to

Equal opportunity

Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation (HSU SPF) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. We consider qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, medical condition, disability, marital status, protected veteran status, or any other legally protected status. More information about HSU SPF’s Equal Employment Opportunity hiring can be found here.

Questions and inquiries

For additional information about the position, please send an email to or call 707-826-4345.

For assistance with the application process, please submit an Accommodation Request Form, which can be found here or call the SPF Interim Compliance Support Coordinator at (707) 826-5159.

Application deadline

All application materials must be received by 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time (US), Wednesday, October 30, 2019.

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