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Sandia National Laboratories Manager, R&D; Autonomy for Hypersonics (5449) in Albuquerque, New Mexico


We are seeking a Manager, R&D Science and Engineering, to provide leadership for and coordination of a portfolio research in autonomy and related technologies. This includes laboratory-funded research in navigation, guidance and control (NG&C), advanced signal processing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, image processing, pattern recognition, sensor fusion, and other advanced sensor exploitation approaches. The work in this department includes the overall execution of the Autonomy for Hypersonics (A4H) Mission Campaign, a 6.5 year, $38M LDRD investment area focused on AI and autonomy solutions that will enhance the war-fighting utility of hypersonic flight systems. This large programmatic role requires the manager be comfortable partnering with fellow managers and providing leadership to a team of experienced Principal Investigators. The manager will be working with external sponsors for the Integrated Military Systems (IMS) program area as well as internally with other program areas to build and maintain relationships and develop capabilities that support A4H research objectives. This role also requires the ability to set a strategic Research & Development vision to build new capabilities, with an emphasis on achieving bold outcomes. This manager must be able to establish and maintain strong synergistic relationships in a teaming environment both within and amongst the 5400 management team, while serving as a collaborative partner across Sandia and executing Sandia’s and Division 5000’s Autonomy strategies. The job will require working with staff and managers across Division 5000 as well as Divisions 1000, 2000, 6000 and 8000.

The successful candidate will be an energetic leader and effective manager who can also successfully advance Autonomy NM, which was stood up in conjunction with the A4H Mission Campaign. This separate, but tangential Autonomy NM effort is to promote and attract collaborative research and education programs with Academic Alliance schools and additional university partners. This is realized by supporting research and education programs of benefit to the US government and helping foster the development of autonomy/AI talent and nationally competitive researchers and students. The job requires the ability to directly engage and partner with academic research institutions, oversee research contracts, and manage and hire many interns (20+) on an annual basis.

Security and safety of operations within the department are also critical. The workforce may perform potentially hazardous work through the assembly and test of autonomous machinery. The manager will be responsible for hiring, managing, and supporting the career development of a technically diverse workforce and ensuring both the technical success of their work and safe operations. The manager must establish and maintain an exceptional career environment for strong workforce recruiting and retention, and for engaging staff in development and mentoring.

On any given day, you may be called on to:

  • Coordinate and conduct the research with many principal investigators to discover, test, and implement new and applied autonomy solutions. Research areas include, but are not limited to, navigation, guidance and control (NG&C), advanced signal processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, image processing, pattern recognition, sensor fusion, and other advanced sensor exploitation approaches.

  • Provide leadership and guidance to the work of the department.This includes performance reviews of staff members, mentoring to interns, and traditional management tasks.

  • Provide a connection for the work and expertise of the organization with potential beneficiaries, collaborators, and customers.
  • Promote excellence for invested laboratory funding by managing and coordinating specific deliverables, overall program and project plans, budgets, structures, schedules, and staffing requirements.
  • Creation of trust-based relationships with customers, performers, and stakeholders to foster a collaborative work environment and enable the development of work plans that meet multiple conflicting needs.
  • Apply organization knowledge and experience to independently judge work quality, performance, and alignment of results with customer expectations.
  • Oversee and manage members of the workforce within the organization, including hiring, professional development, and assessment and performance management, consistent with the mission of the organization.
  • Advise/mentor and support the development of both staff members and a significant population of interns including providing guidance in self-learning activities.
  • This position requires the ability to travel to various locations within the country and interact positively with a diverse set of academic collaborations as well as SPP/SIPP sponsors, up to 2 times per month.


  • Bachelor's and master's degree in a relevant STEM discipline, or a bachelor’s and a doctorate in a relevant STEM discipline, or bachelor's in a relevant STEM discipline plus eight or more years of relevant experience.
  • Experience providing leadership enabling and motivating a team to deliver high-impact results.
  • Experience managing the funding and execution of Research & Development programs to deliver high-impact results.
  • An active, maintained US DOE Q security clearance or DOD equivalent.
  • Ability to obtain and maintain US DOE SCI access, which may require a polygraph test.
  • The ability to travel up to 2 times a month.


Ideally, we would like to see your background include some of the following:

  • Two or more years of demonstrated leadership experience.
  • PhD in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or other relevant autonomy discipline plus 5 years’ relevant autonomy research experience.
  • Demonstrated ability to steward significant customer funding and develop enduring capabilities.
  • Interest in building a pipeline of AI/Autonomy talent for the Labs through intern and other hiring.
  • Successful experience in business development with the Department of Defense or similar government entities including understanding of the SPP/SIPP process and business model at SNL.
  • Understanding and familiarity with the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and processes, including Grand Challenge and Mission Campaign efforts.
  • Successful experience in delivering R&D technologies and products from concept to development to US Government sponsors.
  • Demonstrated leadership in the creation of technical research roadmaps by extracting customer requirements and furthering the Sandia Autonomy for Hypersonics vision for future funded efforts.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and guide technical teams in the research and development of novel technological solutions.
  • Strong desire to support and work interactively with management teams, project teams, and customers, and external university partners.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, presentation, and time-management skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage diverse security requirements, from unclassified to highly classified environments.
  • An active SCI Security Clearance.

Department Description:

The Integrated Military Systems Center (5400) researches and develops pathfinder technologies that provide the United States an advantage in missile engagements and other military encounters. Pathfinder Technologies (5440) creates key enabling autonomy capabilities that expand the capabilities of and provide future technologies for these systems. Our vision is to be a nationally-recognized leader in autonomous systems, and our Autonomy strategic goals include:

  • To advance the state-of-the-art in hypersonics by developing sensor-aided autonomous NG&C, machine-aided fire control, adaptive endgame algorithms, and AI-enabled mission analysis.
  • To provide leadership and context for Laboratory initiatives in onboard autonomy for advanced space and flight systems, efficient machine learning, high-confidence inference, rapid estimation and adaptive response, and distributed autonomy.
  • To advocate for research in areas unlikely to already be addressed by industry, such as autonomy in extreme environments and Artificial Intelligence with sparse data sets.
  • To leverage mod/sim capabilities (such as Sandia’s Scrimmage team) to build reinforcement learning architectures and develop engagement strategies that classical human-driven analysis would not naturally discern.

5449 Autonomy for Hypersonics - Department Description

The Autonomy for Hypersonics department conducts research into AI and autonomous system technologies for high-consequence missions and high-value advanced flight systems, with a focus on hypersonic glide systems. Working with our internal partners as well as university research collaborators, the department researches autonomy solutions for national security that leverage advanced sensors and signal processing, AI and machine learning, advanced guidance and control solutions, and embedded computing. The department teams internally to integrate expertise from across the Laboratories to develop autonomy for advanced flight systems.

About Sandia:

Sandia National Laboratories is the nation’s premier science and engineering lab for national security and technology innovation, with teams of specialists focused on cutting-edge work in a broad array of areas. Some of the main reasons we love our jobs:

  • Challenging work withamazingimpact that contributes to security, peace, and freedom worldwide
  • Extraordinary co-workers
  • Some of the best tools, equipment, and research facilities in the world
  • Career advancement and enrichment opportunities
  • Flexible schedules, generous vacations,strongmedical and other benefits, competitive 401k, learning opportunities, relocation assistance and amenities aimed at creating a solid work/life balance*

World-changing technologies. Life-changing careers. Learn more about Sandia at: *These benefits vary by job classification.

Security Clearance:

Sandia is required by DOE to conduct a pre-employment drug test and background review that includes checks of personal references, credit, law enforcement records, and employment/education verifications. Applicants for employment need to be able to obtain and maintain a DOE Q-level security clearance and SCI access, both of which require US citizenship. SCI access may also require a polygraph examination. If you hold more than one citizenship (i.e., of the U.S. and another country), your ability to obtain these levels of access may be impacted.

Applicants offered employment with Sandia are subject to a federal background investigation to meet the requirements for access to classified information or matter if the duties of the position require a DOE security clearance. Substance abuse or illegal drug use, falsification of information, criminal activity, serious misconduct or other indicators of untrustworthiness can cause a clearance to be denied or terminated by the DOE, resulting in the inability to perform the duties assigned and subsequent termination of employment.

EEO Statement:

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status and any other protected class under state or federal law.