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Research Analyst Principal – Central Labs

By July 28, 2022
  • Full Time
  • Boise, ID
  • August 11, 2022

Idaho Department of Transportation

Idaho Transportation Department

Your Safety * Your Mobility * Your Economic Opportunity

Note: Use job posting link to apply for this position

Do you want to make a difference and be part of an award-winning agency, dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Idaho through transportation?

At the Idaho Transportation Department, every employee is critical to the mission and we strive to foster an innovative, collaborative workplace where employees can grow and do their best work.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is recruiting for a Research Analyst Principal within the Central Labs in the Division of Engineering Products and Plans. This position is a lead position responsible for prioritizing, coordinating and facilitating the testing output for a team of Research and Senior Research Analysts and to address construction material needs across the construction sections. This position will ensure samples are logged in, tested, analyzed, and reported correctly, and identify and address any nonconformance’s within the data. This position will also liaison with our stakeholder (ITD construction sections, materials sections and contractors) to explain the aforementioned technical topics and provide interpretation of their testing results.

This position works closely with the lab manager to ensure AASHTO accreditation by maintaining the Central Lab’s Quality Management System (QMS) and Laboratory Operations Manual which outlines Standard Laboratory practices, training/calibration records and documentation of regulatory accreditation proficiency samples.

Note: This position requires a driver’s record check before a final job offer is made.

Example of Duties

Coordination and oversight duties:

Coordinates the lab work of Research Analysts and Senior Research Analysts in the Asphalt Binder, Hot Mix Asphalt and Aggregate Laboratories.

Ensures that testing is accurate, complete, and submitted to the appropriate parties within contract obligated deadlines.
Assists to train personnel and new-hires on laboratory procedure and documentation techniques, and coordinates with district trainers/IAs to obtain certifications, including WAQTC and individual qualifications.
Responds to staff grievances and complaints. Exercises judgement, discretion, delegation, conflict resolution, professional development and adaptability to meet individual needs.
Screens, interviews and makes hiring recommendations for Research and Senior Research Analysts.

Testing, Reporting and Review

Testing materials using specified test methods (AASHTO, ASTM, WAQTC and Idaho test methods)

Create and/or review material reports for accuracy, completion and other issues before releasing them to Resident Engineers. Ensure testing and reports follow guidelines specified within WAQTC, AASHTO, ASTM, State, Federal and other sampling, testing and reporting standards.
Reviews and analyzes testing data to determine the accuracy of the data and reports. Compiles data from multiple construction jobs on specified variables for trend review with Material Engineers.
Handles unexpected occurrences on equipment, testing and reports to ensure compliance with procedural guidelines, and researches opportunities for improvement to prevent a recurrence.
Researches and selects information sources for study, which typically includes test methods, material types and construction methods.

Consultation and Communication

Keeps an open line of communication in regards to testing status with Resident Engineers and contractors.

Facilitates a partnership of collaboration and transparency within the Central Laboratory on development and design of research, coordinates contractor, and district Independent Assurance inspector visits to witness testing.
Analyzes data and interprets trends for acceptance and dispute resolution reports to ensure that output is consistent with research test methodologies. Explains processes to Resident Engineers and Inspectors for positive construction impacts.
Compiles and disseminates research results in formats appropriate to the end-user, when necessary, provides additional Q&A consultation and presentation of material data findings.

Quality Management System

Following AASHTO R 18 to maintain lab QMS, records

Resolves outstanding AASHTO Re:source and CCRL audit findings satisfactorily to demonstrate adherence to QMS and maintenance of state-wide umbrella certifications.
Participates in regulatory audits and proficiency sample program with AMRL / AASHTO Re:source and CCRL, resolves low ratings with a root cause analysis.
Develops and collaborates written procedures for consistent execution of laboratory and research practices. These methods assure the quality of data collected to include testing techniques, storage, reporting and control mechanisms.
Develops documentation to aid in the reporting of field and/or data analysis.

Auditing the Central Laboratory and Qualifying District / Consultant Laboratories

Ensures that Laboratory functions operate safely, that staff training records are up to date, cleanliness is maintained, and procedures are executed correctly.

In conjunction with the Principal Chemist and a rotated Laboratory staff member, tours each department in the Central Lab monthly. Documents observations of areas of improvement and makes an action plan to address. This enhances the yearly management review/audit of the QMS.
Visits District and Consultant laboratories and reviews their technical documents and Laboratory practices. Researches their supporting evidence to ensure that they meet ITD expectations for running tests on ITD construction material. Submits supporting documentation to the training unit.

Equipment Maintenance, Repair and Budget

Ensures that equipment in the Hot Mix Asphalt, Aggregate, and Binder laboratories are calibrated according to defined maintenance/review schedules and documented resolved issues. 

Coordinates the efforts of equipment repairs with Research and Senior Research Analysts.
Confers with information technology staff and approves implementation for equipment installation.
Reviews the budget with the Principal Chemist and Program Manager. Offers input and researches capital equipment purchases and transactions.

Decision Making Authority

Makes recommendations on, but not limited to, accepting or rejecting acceptance test strips, bulk specific gravity reports, mix designs and binder/emulsion reports; all of these reports contain many tests, statistical analysis and data interpretation. Any trends in data or complications in the Laboratory will be noted to the Program Manager. Makes recommendations to Resident Engineers and Inspectors on how to move a project forward when the tests indicate failing material. Makes recommendations on equipment purchases, and allocation of the capital budget. Makes recommendations on general Laboratory operations and quality management, reviews to the QMS, approaches to calibrations and responses to proficiency data.

This position services many customers. Resident Engineers and Project Inspectors expect timely turnaround and consultation of their project submissions for data deliverables. This position’s ability to respond impacts contract specifications. Material Engineers expect quality data throughput and institutional development of quality infrastructure programs such as revisions to the QMS, procedural refinement, specification reform and form maintenance. Central Laboratory staff expects this position to understand the prioritization of projects and delegation in response; they expect technical guidance when issues occur in the Laboratory and final review of their analytical work. Contractors expect fair and consistent treatment on their projects, coordination of witnessing testing, status updates on project turnaround and explanations of laboratory practices when the material fails.

Problem Solving 

This position will have to creatively use limited resources to ensure research on federally funded projects’ material testing requirements is progressed forward. This could entail reorganizing staff around the lab, soliciting help from other departments, aiding the Program Manager with temporary work task for agreements. This is may entail negotiation, multi-tasking, reprioritization of personnel and constant flexibility to ensure success.

This candidate will prepare and review reports before submission to the Program Manager. This entails researching through a composite of test methods, data and statistical analysis. Issues with the data analysis might not be clearly captured in the technician’s annotations, and this needs to be resolved before release to our internal customers. Identifying these deficiencies is critical because without proper assessment, they can cause broader issues down the line. This is a challenge because the data results are not always as expected, the standards to be applied are not clear, and there may be external forces biasing interpretation.

The candidate will research specifications and test procedures and then assign tasks to the Research Analysts and Senior Research Analysts of the lab to perform tests on construction materials and collect the correct data. This requisite information is scattered across many technical documents such as a QA manual, Laboratory Operations Procedure, Standard Specifications and AASHTO/ASTM/WAQTC procedures. This position will have to act as a technical expect and explain sampling, testing, and reporting policies to a broad audience to ensure consistency across the state.

Minimum Qualifications

Experience that demonstrates considerable knowledge of:

Modeling and trend analysis and simulation techniques.
Experience: Planning, developing, and implementing complex research and statistical projects and presenting the results;
Using and interpreting output of a statistical analysis software package.

Valid driver’s license

Additional Qualifications:
Ability to lift 50 pounds;
Possession OR ability to obtain WAQTC licensure and Department qualifications;
Familiarity with Word and Excel computer applications is required;
Experience with materials testing techniques and data analysis, previous work experience in a laboratory or analytical environment;
Expertise in Hot Mix Asphalt, Asphalt Binder, Emulsion and Aggregate testing, strongly prefer specific knowledge in Department of Transportation material test procedures;
Strong knowledge of construction materials testing, highway construction inspection, highway contract administration or project development, prefer minimum of four years related experience;
Educational degrees as engineering technicians, the earth sciences, engineering, auditing, mathematics, or statistics may be considered for experience. While this qualification is desirable it is NOT required.

To apply for this job email your details to CAREERS@itd.idaho.gov

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