Oregon Public Universities


Classification Specifications


Classification Number: 3163


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Salary Range 23B $4265 $4479 $4690 $4914 $5149 $5403


The INSTRUMENT TECHNOLOGIST (MECHANICAL) performs design engineering; fabricates original, innovative, state-of-the-art precision equipment and instrument systems; and coordinates and/or performs the construction, assembly, and testing of laboratory, experimental, and research instruments. Positions in this class are characterized by the application of theoretical, analytical, and/or mathematical approaches in determining feasibility of design in meeting performance requirements. Duties are performed in direct consultation with principal investigators and researchers. Incumbents may serve as a member of a research team.


This is the highest level of a four-level series and is distinguished from the lower levels by the exercise of independent design autonomy; the requirement for a higher degree of knowledge of a variety of scientific disciplines, to understand the results a scientist is trying to achieve with the experiment; and the restriction of the test environment in which the equipment will be operated. An incumbent in this class is considered a specialized technical resource person for other mechanical technicians and/or other personnel. The lower levels of the series are distinguished by primary responsibility for fabrication, calibration, repair; basic component and less intricate system design.


Under direction, incumbent performs all or many of the duties listed in this series. This is the senior professional level at which incumbents are expected to operate independently in the engineering and design phase of major research efforts.

  1. Systems Integration and Instrument Design. Typical tasks: performs system engineering design for instruments from conceptional information provided by principal investigators, on original research instruments and apparatus which are not commercially available or are superior to those instruments commercially available; defines with investigators the general system and/or equipment concepts; performs analysis of other design concepts based on requirements and engineering practices; makes drawings of instruments, designs new concepts to be integrated into existing laboratory instruments, to adapt to changing needs as defined by principal investigators as research projects evolve; provides detailed mechanical design of equipment; creates documents; coordinates the work of other technicians through the design and fabrication stage; ensures through testing that the completed system meets or exceeds the original requirements.
  2. Consultation. Typical tasks: meets with researchers to discuss and evaluate their needs for research instruments and to determine which approach or alternative will provide the best solution in solving research problems; writes project proposals, schedules, and estimates; consults with researchers, faculty, staff, and students on technical questions regarding existing equipment, design of new equipment, defining specifications, and system failure analysis, and to advise on selection of the appropriate equipment and components to meet their specific requirements; researches new instruments, equipment, and components on the market; researches and evaluates new technologies and consults journals for material acquisition, material specifications, manufacturers, vendors, prices, and delivery; tests such instruments, equipment, and components for compliance with specifications and intended application and consults with potential user(s) on findings and makes recommendations.
  3. Fabrication. Typical tasks: fabricates or oversees the fabrication of research instruments from own or other's drawings; selects most suitable materials to use in fabrication of instruments and apparatus; uses all common shop machinery and test equipment such as precision and tool room grade lathes, horizontal and vertical milling machines, precision grinding equipment, electrical discharge machines, tungsten inert gas welding, electron beam welding, soft and hard solder, sheet metal shears, brakes, punches, precision mechanical and electronic measuring instruments and mass spectrometer leak detectors.
  4. Maintenance and Repair. Typical tasks: performs maintenance and repair of research instruments such as ultra high vacuum equipment and apparatus, mass spectrometer leak detector, nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus, molecular epitaxy systems and major repair of shop machinery, test equipment, tools, and premises of research and development shop facility.


Employees in this class are in regular personal contact with principal investigators, research scientists, staff and students while consulting on systems, instruments, or equipment to be designed, constructed, purchased, or modified. Employees are in contact by telephone or in person with vendors and manufacturer's representatives to obtain technical literature and specification sheets and to review test instruments, equipment, and components available for purchase.


Employees in this class receive direction from a shop supervisor or a principal investigator or administrator. Work is reviewed on an ongoing basis through feedback from research scientists and staff as to whether instruments are designed effectively for the research they are doing and performance is as required. Design work is reviewed intermittently and on completion for potential problems. Incumbents follow standardized engineering, mathematical and drafting principles in design of scientific instruments and standardized scientific and mathematical principles in fabrication.


  • Five years of instrument shop experience designing, fabricating, and maintaining precision mechanical scientific and/or medical instruments, equipment, and systems. The experience must include responsibility for equipment and instrument design with minimum (general) supervision and indicate the ability to serve as a technical resource person to other instrument technicians and related personnel; AND
  • One of the following:
  • Completion of a Machinist Apprenticeship program; or
  • An Associate's degree in either Mechanical Engineering Technology or Machine (Manufacturing) Technology; or
  • A Bachelor's degree with major courses in mechanical engineering or a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.