Research Associate/Senior Research Associate, Autonomous Systems

University of Colorado Boulder
Colorado, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Aug 30, 2022

Job Summary

The Research and Innovation Office (RIO) at CU Boulder is encouraging applications for Principal Research Associates and Senior Principal Research Associates in Autonomous Systems who will support efforts to grow the campus's national security-related research enterprise. These positions will report directly to the Director, Center for National Security Initiatives (NSI) within RIO. You will be responsible for developing groundbreaking research associated with the NSI portfolio, identifying new sponsored research opportunities with the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, and preparing proposals and executing awards in collaboration with NSI staff, campus faculty, industry, and other partners. Candidates will be focused on strategic portfolio development, with an emphasis on growing applied research.

The successful candidate will create a research program at NSI that includes:

  1. Extensive field deployment of heterogeneous autonomous platforms, e.g., drones, ground vehicles, underwater vehicles, surface vehicles, and walking robots
  2. Implementation of perception and planning algorithms for long-distance, long-duration autonomous operation
  3. Use-inspired research that addresses a range of robotic applications, with emphasis on national security applications as well as applications with local relevance, e.g., wildfire monitoring and forest ecology
  4. Human-robot interaction capabilities to enable significant user studies in realistic scenarios
  5. Training and mentoring for significant involvement by advanced undergraduate students and graduate students from departments across campus.

The ideal candidate would be able to articulate how robotics and autonomy fit into the current funding landscape with its emphasis on artificial intelligence and machine learning. This researcher would have expertise that spans computer science, computer engineering, and robotics with demonstrated experience implementing advanced autonomy algorithms on limited computing resources typical of fielded robotic systems.

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Research and Innovation Office (RIO) is the central point for support and advocacy for CU Boulder’s world-class scholarship, creative work, and research. The Center for National Security Initiatives is dedicated to providing high-impact national security research enabled by world-class research scientists and essential infrastructure. As the sole Tier-1 research institution in Colorado and the top public University in NASA funding, CU Boulder is well-positioned for continued growth to the current $45M per year DoD research portfolio. Colorado’s $15.4B Aerospace & Defense Economy and a strong ecosystem of defense prime contractors, entrepreneurs, and Federal partners further strengthen our opportunity to grow our strategic impact on National Security research.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be
  • Design, plan, conduct and coordinate various research projects in support of the NSI portfolio.
  • Develop research proposals, key research tasks, and deliverables in support of DoD, IC, and Aerospace and Defense Industry customers.
  • Provide technical leadership of research projects or project subtasks and coordination across academic departments and research groups for interdisciplinary efforts.
  • Summarize results and provide required documentation and deliverables to sponsors.
  • Engage Government and Industry sponsors, with support from NSI Staff, to shape strategic research opportunities and win research contracts.
  • Understand and communicate key challenges and R&D priorities regarding DoD and other national security organizations to develop the CU Boulder applied research portfolio.
  • Provide recommended prioritization of new sponsored research opportunities to the NSI leadership team.
  • Establish and leverage professional network with key customers, influencers, and executive decision makers in the national security community and gain insight into strategic direction, policies, R&D priorities, allocated budgets, and plans associated with relevant national security programs.
What You Should Know
  • Due to the requirement to access export-controlled data and information, only U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (green cards), or other protected individuals (i.e., persons designated as an asylee, refugee, or a temporary resident under amnesty provisions) may apply.
  • Travel out-of-state will be required.
  • Irregular work hours including evenings and weekends may be required.
  • All University of Colorado Boulder employees are required to comply with the campus COVID-19 vaccine requirement . New employees must provide proof of vaccination or receive a medical or religious exemption within 30 days of employment.
What We Can Offer

We offer a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, along with a generous benefits package.

A Research Associate hired for this specific opportunity will be hired with an initial salary in one of the following ranges, depending on education and experience.
  • Research Associate: $100,000 to $140,000 annually
  • Senior Research Associate: $140,000 to $180,000 annually
Relocation expenses may be available for this position following RIO and the University of Colorado’s relocation processes and procedures. A signing bonus may be available.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits , including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder .

Be Statements

Be ambitious. Be groundbreaking. Be Boulder.

What We Require
  • PhD in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, or a field relevant to the given focus area.
  • Research Associate: A minimum of three years of experience in Academia, or the Aerospace and Defense Industry, or Government in a research role.
  • Senior Research Associate: A minimum of eight years of experience in Academia, or the Aerospace and Defense Industry, or Government in a research role.
  • Proven expertise in the development and application of research in research focus area/s specified above.
What You Will Need
  • Demonstrated record of success and credibility within both the national security and academic communities.
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills; strong interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrated high-level critical thinking and organizational skills.
  • Ability to work within a complex, dynamic, matrixed structure across colleges and university administration and externally with Government and Industry partners.
What We Would Like You to Have
  • A minimum of two years of experience working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary role at, or with, an academic or research institution.
  • Proven track record leading research efforts in support of DoD or Aerospace and Defense Industry.
  • Program management, Contracting, and/or Business Development experience in the Federal Government or Industry.
  • Active and or previous security clearance with the ability to acquire a clearance.
Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  1. Resume or CV
  2. Cover letter addressed to the Search Committee briefly describing your qualifications, professional goals, and specific interest in this position.

During the application process, you will be asked to provide contact information for 2 confidential letter of recommendation providers. We will request the letters immediately following your application.

If you are selected as the finalist, your degree will be verified by the CU Boulder Campus Human Resources department using an approved online vendor. If your degree was obtained outside of the United States, please submit a translated version as an optional attachment.

The position will be open until finalists have been identified. Applications will be screened as they are received.

Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through CU Boulder Jobs .

Posting Contact Information

Posting Contact Name: Boulder Campus Human Resources

Posting Contact Email:

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