Archive for September, 2016

Caltech Software Engineering Job

Monday, September 19th, 2016

On October 3rd of last year, I wrote a post about being selected to work on a project at Caltech. Although my funding came from Caltech/JPL, I was still a UCR employee and the project only lasted for a few months.  On October 3rd of this year, I will begin a new job at Caltech as an actual employee. I'll be a staff member at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC). My job title is Applications Developer Associate, though a more accurate title, given what the job actually entails, would be Associate Software Engineer. I will initially work on a component of the processing pipeline for the Euclid mission (along with about 1000 other people, mostly in Europe). Because the Euclid mission is primarily a European Space Agency mission, the job will initially involve some travel to Europe. Once the Euclid work winds down, I will be assigned another project.

This position is ideal in many ways. First of all, it's Caltech. Secondly, it's more stable than most industry / private sector positions. The job should allow me to further strengthen my current skills, learn some new skills, and meet some new people. It should also offer some valuable experiences and open the door for new opportunities. It also (sort of) provides dental and vision insurance in addition to medical insurance. I currently only have medical insurance.

The job pays about 1.63 times as much as my current position at UCR, which is nice, but it's far from ideal. It appears that Caltech's health insurance options are more costly than my current insurance at UCR and I will also have to pay for parking. We will be in a higher tax bracket, so significantly more taxes will be deducted from my paychecks. It appears that my actual take-home pay will initially be about 1.5 times more than my current take-home pay. This would be great, except for the fact that we've accumulated a large amount of debt since the summer of 2013. It appears that things will still be very tight for us financially for the next year or two, unless I get a significant pay increase after my first year. I am investigating debt consolidation loans and possibilities for supplemental income so that we can hopefully begin reducing our debt burden instead of just slowing its rate of growth. Unfortunately, I won't have much time to devote to finding supplemental income because I will probably spend more time commuting; we can't move closer to Pasadena any time soon because we can't afford to break our lease and the rents near Pasadena are not exactly cheap.