Computer Systems Researcher (Research Scientists) Entry To Experienced Level

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Posted by: National Security Agency on Mar 25, 2020


Fort Meade , MD

Job Description:

The professionals at the National Security Agency (NSA) have one common goal: to protect our nation. The mission requires a strong offense and a steadfast defense. The offense collects, processes and disseminates intelligence information derived from foreign signals for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. The defense prevents adversaries from gaining access to sensitive classified national security information.

The need to maintain our core Computer Science group is vital to provide the technical capabilities necessary to successfully execute NSA's mission. The increased complexity of supporting NSA's mission requires world class researchers, programmers, and developers who operate in teams in areas such as software engineering, reverse engineering, information technology infrastructure, high performance computing, data science, architectures, computer security, and networking in order to design and develop advanced tools, techniques, and systems.

Description of Position

Research Scientists design, develop, deliver, and/or operate solutions to hard computer science problems within a scientific framework. The solutions may arise in the forms of forensics and attack attribution, protection of critical networks, active systems warnings and indicators, active penetration into target systems, knowledge discovery of passive and active systems, or other computer science mission support.

The Research Directorate is one of the NSA's six major directorates. Our mission is to conduct and operationalize research to help NSA improve the way it conducts its signals intelligence and cybersecurity missions (see for more information on these missions). Successful NSA researchers generalize a mission problem, conduct research to solve the problem, and work with other NSA organizations to apply the research to mission problems. Many NSA research activities have directly contributed to saving lives and protecting computer networks. In addition to working closely with our mission partners, our researchers collaborate regularly with the scientific community in academia, industry, and other government laboratories. We regularly publish papers on the unclassified aspects of our work in scientific conferences and journals. Many of the unclassified systems we have built have been released to the open source software development community (e.g., SELinux, SEAndroid, Accumulo). Our researchers also interact with the community at large by serving as adjunct faculty members at local universities, and participating in K-12 STEM outreach activities across the country. Unlike many federal research labs, the NSA Research Directorate is funded internally, which allows our researchers to spend their time conducting research rather than writing proposals.

The Research Directorate of the National Security Agency is interested in applicants conducting research in systems (operating systems, compilers, databases, distributed computing, networking), machine learning, data science, human-machine teaming, cybersecurity, computer vision, and computational linguistics. Successful candidates for Research Scientist positions should have demonstrated success in conducting Computer Science research, and depending on the area, demonstrated the ability to turn research ideas into running prototype-grade systems. For Senior Research Scientist positions, applicants must demonstrate a sustained track record of conducting and leading significant research activities.

As a Research Scientists, other responsibilities may include:

-using principles, techniques, procedures, and tools to architect and facilitate the development of hardware solutions
-applying software engineering principles to design and/or develop software applications
-developing methods and applications for tools to exploit and analyze computer systems and network vulnerabilities
-designing and optimizing algorithms, data structures, modeling, and analytics to solve real-world scientific problems

The ideal candidate is someone with a desire for continual learning and strong problem-solving, analytic and interpersonal skills who is able to:

-work in a team environment
-communicate effectively
-handle multiple assignments
-synthesize information to solve complex problems--apply knowledge data structures and algorithms to software engineering problems
-develop, diagnose, and/or operate complex computer systems

Specialized skills and experience in one or more of the following is required:

-Programming (low level, high level, parallel)
-Computer systems research
-Simulation/model development and prototyping
-Software engineering
-Hardware engineering
-Computational science
-Algorithm analysis and design
-Reverse engineering

Pay, Benefits, & Work Schedule:
On-the job training, Internal NSA courses, and external training will be made available based on the need and experience of the selectee.

Monday - Friday, with basic 8hr/day work requirements between 0600 and 1800 (flexible).

How To Apply - External:
To apply for this position, please click the 'Apply' button located at the top right of this posting. After completing the application for the first time, or reviewing previously entered information, and clicking the 'Submit' button, you will receive a confirmation email. Please ensure your spam filters are configured to accept emails from

***PLEASE NOTE: U.S. Citizenship is required for all applicants. Reasonable accommodations provided to applicants with disabilities during the application and hiring process where appropriate. NSA is an equal opportunity employer and abides by applicable employment laws and regulations. All applicants and employees are subject to random drug testing in accordance with Executive Order 12564. Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a security background investigation and polygraph.

This position is a Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS) position in the Excepted Service under 10 U.S.C. 1601. DoD Components with DCIPS positions apply Veterans' Preference to eligible candidates as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 USC, in accordance with the procedures provided in DoD Instruction 1400.25, Volume 2005, DCIPS Employment and Placement. If you are a veteran claiming veterans' preference, as defined by Section 2108 of Title 5 U.S.C., you may be asked to submit documents verifying your eligibility.

Please note that you may be asked a series of questions depending on the position you apply for. Your responses will be used as part of the screening process of your application and will assist in determining your eligibility for the position. Be sure to elaborate on experiences in your resume. Failure to provide the required information or providing inaccurate information will result in your application not being considered for this position. Only those applicants who meet the qualifications for the position will be contacted to begin employment processing.

Please Note: Job Posting could close earlier than the closing date due to sufficient number of applicants or position no longer available. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

DCIPS Disclaimer:
The National Security Agency (NSA) is part of the DoD Intelligence Community Defense Civilian Intelligence Personnel System (DCIPS). All positions in the NSA are in the Excepted Services under 10 United States Codes (USC) 1601 appointment authority.

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About National Security Agency

As a member of the military, you understand the importance of a mission. Much like you, the workforce at the National Security Agency (NSA) is proud and patriotic, and knows the importance of keeping the nation safe. If you are dedicated and mission-oriented, NSA has exciting career opportunities that fit your military training: • Intelligence Analysis • Intelligence Collection • Foreign Language Analysis • Computer Science • Cyber • Engineering and Physical Sciences • Mathematical Sciences • Business, Accounting and Budget • Inspection, Investigation and Compliance • Law and Legal Services • Medical and Occupational Health • Security and Law Enforcement • Human Resources • Education and Training • General Administrative Support • Communication and Public Affairs • Infrastructure and Logistics • Paid Internships, Scholarships and Co-Op Apply today.

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