Interdisciplinary Position

Mine Safety and Health Administration | South Park, PA

Posted Date 12/04/2019

This position is located in the Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Pittsburgh Safety & Health Technology Center (PSHTC), South Park, PA in the Roof Control Division. This division is responsible for providing engineering and geological support.

- Selection may be made to anyone of the series.

- This position is inside the bargaining unit.

- Additional selection may be made from this vacancy announcement.

- PCS Expenses will not be reimbursed.


Operating as a technical authority and expert advisor, the incumbent applies his/her advanced knowledge of ground control theories, principles, and practices to a variety of investigative, preventative, and developmental functions that provide for a safer mine environment. The major duties of the position include but are not limited to the following:

Serves as a Technical Support representative on MSHA accident investigation teams involved in ground control related accidents in coal, metal, and nonmetal mines. Responsibility during these accident investigations includes establishing the cause of the ground failure, laboratory testing of roof support products when applicable, and recommending preventative measures. Provides expert advice and court testimony during hearings pertaining to ground control accident investigations. Uses information gained from investigations as input to MSHA policy, safety standards and regulations, and to advance the state-of-the-art in ground control.

Independently conducts or leads a team of engineers and geologists in conducting engineering studies and/or geological evaluations of the most complex ground control problems. The incumbent will often have to make decisions which will be considered extreme within the context of standard rock mechanics techniques. These decisions will be the foundation for establishing the support method and safety precautions to be followed in mining the area in question.

The incumbent is responsible for providing ground control related consulting and advisory services of a complex nature to MSHA, the mining industry and other government agencies. Technical and theoretical data on methods of evaluating, supporting and controlling mine roof is also complex and in many cases unproven and controversial. Therefore, the incumbent must utilize both technical and practical experience skills to evaluate the effectiveness of mine roof supports, establish criteria and/or specifications and standards and develop safe installation practice.

As a nationally recognized expert in the use of automated temporary roof support and cabs/canopies in the mining industry, the incumbent leads and directs Technical Support’s program regarding in-lieu-of-canopy approvals and cab/canopy evaluations. Evaluates the impact of technological advancements and MSHA policy /regulatory changes on previously granted in-lieu-of approvals and future requests for approvals. Establishes and maintains effective working relationships with roof bolter manufacturers. Often the results of the work can become MSHA policy.

Or expert in laboratory testing and in-mine evaluation of artificial ground support, the incumbent leads and directs Technical Support's program regarding ground control product testing both in the laboratory and in the field. Develops and maintains a quality control program for ensuring the precision and accuracy of laboratory and field testing. Establishes and maintains effective working relationships with ground control product manufacturers.  Often the results of the work can become MSHA policy.

Or  in remote sensing-­linear analysis and geologic evaluations of ground conditions, the incumbent leads and directs Technical Support's program regarding geology-related laboratory and field activities. Develops and maintains a quality control program for ensuring the precision and accuracy of analyses. 

The incumbent leads and directs Technical Support's program regarding mine design and ground condition evaluation through numerical modeling. Develops and monitors the use of standardized procedures for ensuring the accuracy of the computer models generated continually evaluates the state-of-the-art in computer modeling for application to ground control issues in mining.

When new or novel ground support methods and products are suggested or introduced to the mining industry, the incumbent will conduct complex in-mine evaluations necessary to determine their effectiveness.  

Develops courses and serves as an instructor for the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Virginia in his/her area of expertise.

Serves as a member on MSHA technical committees which review existing and/or develop new ground control related standards.

As a technical expert in ground control, reviews drafts of NIOSH technical papers, evaluates current and proposed research projects, and suggests areas of research necessary to improve mine safety and to gain compliance with provisions of the Mine Health and Safety Act.

Publishes technical and professional papers in his/her area of expertise, which are used extensively within MSHA as well as other government agencies, the mining industry, and professional organizations. 

Keeps abreast of developments in ground control equipment, products, and instrumentation through training and contacts with the mining industry, manufacturers, and research organizations.

This position has an Individual Occupational Requirement


  1. Degree: Engineering. To be acceptable, the program must: (1) lead to a bachelor’s degree in a school of engineering with at least one program accredited by ABET; or (2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.


  1. Combination of education and experience -- college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. The adequacy of such background must be demonstrated by one of the following:
  2. Professional registration or licensure -- Current registration as an Engineer Intern (EI), Engineer in Training (EIT), or licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board's eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.
  3. Written Test -- Evidence of having successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination or any other written test required for professional
  4. Specified academic courses -- Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and that included the courses specified in the basic requirements under paragraph A. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of an engineering program as
    described in paragraph A.
  5. Related curriculum -- Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in an appropriate scientific field, e.g., engineering technology, physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a bachelor’s degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance. Ordinarily there should be either an established plan of intensive training to develop professional engineering competence, or several years of prior professional engineering-type experience, e.g., in interdisciplinary positions. (The above examples of related curricula are not all inclusive.)


In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have 52 weeks of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level, GS-12, in the Federal Service.

Examples of specialized experience include the following:

  1. Field investigation of complex ground control problems, including evaluations of roof or rib falls, multiple seam interactions, and/or burst prone areas.
  2. Field evaluations of automated temporary roof support systems.
  3. Field investigations to determine the effectiveness of new roof support systems.
  4. Designing laboratory investigations to evaluate the qualities of new or novel roof support systems.
  5. Evaluations of ground control aspects of longwall mining.
  6. Pillar stability analyses using NIOSH software, Lamodel, or other underground numerical modeling techniques.


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