Orbital ATK Careers

Theoretical Physicist

Promontory, UT
Engineering and Sciences

Job Description

Job ID: GEM20183101-43547

With projected annual revenues of $4.5 billion, approximately 12,500 employees, and operations in about 20 states, Orbital ATK is a company on the move. Our mission is to ensure that our customers accomplish their mission ? whether it?s a technological breakthrough, a satellite launch, or protecting our nation. The company is the world?s leading supplier of solid rocket motors, a leading provider of launch vehicles, satellites and other space systems, and the nation?s largest manufacturer of ammunition. United in pride and shared goals, Orbital ATK employees come from diverse backgrounds and work together to deliver reliable, innovative and affordable solutions. Work with the best and unleash your potential. If you are a dynamic, successful, driven professional, Orbital ATK is the company that will further your experience and career growth. We offer a highly competitive salary, comprehensive benefits including, medical, dental, 401k, tuition reimbursement, and much more.

Orbital ATK is currently recruiting for a Theoretical Physicist (Sr. Staff Scientist) for our Promontory, UT facility.  Candidate must be a US Citizen with the ability to obtain a Department of Defense Secret security clearance.

Working Environment

The position is in the Research and Development Laboratories of Propulsion Systems, part of the Orbital ATK Flight Systems Group, which specializes in launch vehicle integration, solid rocket motors and advanced composite structures.  The R&D Labs at Promontory conduct materials research, formulate energetic materials, design and test subscale components, and conduct service life programs.

The purpose of this position is to continue the ongoing work of replacing empirical material models with higher fidelity physics-based models.  Because the models are generally multidisciplinary (e.g., physics, chemistry, design engineering, statistics, test engineering), we expect the employee to grow into the knowledge base necessary to create such models.  The applicant does not necessarily need to be initially proficient in all disciplines of the “List of Desirable Tools” below but does need to satisfy the “Basic Qualifications” list.


As a Theoretical Physicist in the R&D Labs you will be responsible for creating models of energetic material mixtures and modeling system behaviors of the devices that employ them. You will have ownership of your work from the proposal phase to final conclusions.  You will parameterize the models under study with chemical, mechanical, and meso-level data.  Hence, knowledge of various experimental techniques is a plus.  By applying boundary conditions of interest (e.g., temperature, humidity, displacement, load) to the equations governing material behavior, and using associated error roll-up of all uncertainties, you will deliver predicted material and/or system behaviors with confidence intervals.  You will also be responsible for designing and overseeing teams to perform tests supporting validation of the models.

Basic Qualifications

  • U.S. Citizen (DoD Secret security clearance will be required)
  • Ph.D. in theoretical physics
  • In-depth familiarity with classical mechanics, electromagnetic theory, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics.
  • Excellent mathematical skills, both analytical and numerical, including
    • Solutions of differential equations, both analytical and numerical
    • Approximations of difficult nested integrals and sums, including a working knowledge of many of the special functions of mathematics
  • Ability to program in high-level languages (e.g., C++ and Python).  Working knowledge of Excel and Mathematica or equivalent.
  • Must be able to design and direct complex and expensive test programs to support modeling efforts.
  • Good writing and verbal/presentation skills with the ability to
    • Write proposals
    • Publish technical papers
    • Compile final reports (book-sized) for large, multidisciplinary programs
    • Write/present preliminary white papers to funding agencies
  • Good team-worker, especially the ability to work well with a multi-disciplinary team

List of Desirable Tools

The applicant should expect to grow into a working knowledge of the following.  Existing knowledge of any of the items below is an advantage.

  • Deriving complex material and processing models from the material microstructure, utilizing best available theory, computational tools, and software.  The model types and mathematical techniques may include but are not limited to
    • Chemical kinetics and diffusion processes in multiple materials for arbitrary boundary and initial conditions.
    • Techniques to derive asymptotic solutions to aid in solving stiff equations.
    • Polymer physics and viscoelasticity
    • Heat transport models
    • Particulate mechanics models
    • Slurry mechanics models
    • Eddy current models in anisotropic materials
  • Data analysis and statistics skills, including
    • Monte Carlo algorithms
    • Error roll-up statistical tools including regression
    • Uncertainty quantification
  • Condensed matter field theory and group theory
  • Solid mechanics, chemical kinetics, diffusion (and general transport) phenomena, fluid mechanics, and particulate/multi-phase mechanics.
  • Familiarity with the operation of computational chemistry codes such as Gaussian16, NWchem, or Schrodinger.
  • Familiarity with the operation of multi-physics numerical simulation software such as CTH, ALE3D, or ANSYS Autodyn.

Other Requirements

Education encompasses one or more of the following disciplines: physical science, material science, mathematics or engineering (chemical, mechanical, electrical, aerospace or similar).

Education and Experience

Requires B.S. or B.A. & 20 years experience or M.S. & 15 years experience or PhD & 10 years experience

Position may be filled at a lower level (Staff Scientist)

  • BS degree with 15 years experience, MS degree with 10 years experience, or PhD with 7 years of experience

Orbital ATK is applying entrepreneurial thinking and commercial practices to deliver reliable, innovative and affordable products and services to our customers and grow our core areas while harnessing new technologies that will take our products ? and your ideas ? into the future. When encouraged to think beyond the ordinary, you?ll be amazed at what you can do!We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

EOE AA M/F/Vet/Disability

Job Type: Full Time
Desired Travel: less than 25%
Years of Experience: +10 Years
Education: Bachelors
Expertise: Engineering
Group: Flight