Research Project Specialist - Project Engineer

Aug 14, 2023
NRRI Research Project Specialist 1: Project Engineer
Job ID: 357140
Location: NRRI Coleraine
Job Family: Research-Support
Employee Class: Acad Prof and Admin

About the Job

This position is responsible for overseeing engineering aspects of multiple research-related projects. Possesses in-depth engineering subject matter knowledge that is readily applied to project development and execution. Creates project plan in concert with team ensuring that resources and staff are in place to meet scope, schedule, and budget. Decisions are guided by policies, procedures, and business plans; and receive guidance and oversight from the manager.


• (25%) Prepare, schedule, coordinate and monitor the engineering aspects of assigned research projects, remaining current on technological and scientific developments in the field and their potential application in project planning, implementation, and control; develop data protocols, operational plan, and work activities.

• (5%) Prepare or oversee preparation of engineering aspects of research plans, monitor compliance to applicable codes, practices, QA/QC policies, performance standards and specification.

• (10%) Formulates and implements short- and long-range goals for the engineering management systems as they relate to operation of the lab, including determination of engineering techniques and best practices, use of equipment, and administrative procedures; may supervise exempt and non-exempt staff.

• (10%) Interact daily with internal and external clients to interpret their needs and requirements and represent them in the field.

• (10%) Evaluate, suggest alternate methods, modify, or develop new procedures and techniques to aid in the investigation of a total research problem or program.

• (25%) Assist with outfitting and maintaining labs: specify, oversee installation, and test new equipment for research labs; assist with maintenance, calibration, and repair of lab equipment and tools as needed; provide training in proper use of equipment and tools.

• (5%) Perform overall quality control of the work (budget, schedule, plans, and personnel’s performance) and report regularly on project status.

• (5%) Assign responsibilities; develop and ensure timelines, organizational charts, and work plans; lead engineering aspects of research team efforts and mentor project team.

• (5%) Cooperate and communicate effectively with project manager and other project participants to provide assistance and technical support; prepare and present data; collaborate on reports, papers and publications.

Complexity and Problem Solving
Problems are increasingly difficult to identify and are sufficiently difficult that they cannot be solved using existing practices and procedures; may have to respond/adapt to changing conditions or circumstances, requiring creativity and the development of new approaches when resolving issues.


Required Qualifications:

BA/BS in engineering or related field with at least six years of experience, or advanced degree with 4 years of experience. Applies knowledge and skills to a recurring task or activity with emphasis on precision and timeliness of execution. Additional specific required skills that must be proven are as follows:

  • Working experience as a project engineer.
  • Project management and supervision skills.
  • Familiarity with rules, regulations, best practices and performance standards
  • Ability to work with multidisciplinary projects.
  • Ability to communicate and work closely with team members in a research setting.
  • Ability to simultaneously manage multiple, significant, projects and duties.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; detail-oriented, strategic thinker, self-motivated and strong organizational skills.
  • Evidence of excellent written communication skills.


• Mechanical engineering degree and Minnesota PE License.
• Excellent knowledge of design and visualizations software such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks.
• Advanced MS Office skills.
• Evidence of excellent oral communication skills
• Experience of collaborating and working effectively as a leader in a diverse and multidisciplinary team environment.

About the Department

The Natural Resources Research Institute was established by the Minnesota legislature in 1983 as an applied science and engineering research organization to inform state citizens and decision-makers while leveraging the power of the University of Minnesota. NRRI is guided by the forward-looking charter provided by the Legislature to foster the economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment.

NRRI’s mission is to deliver integrated research solutions that value our resources, environment, and economy for a sustainable and resilient future. We are a mission-driven, project-focused team working to create opportunities for natural resource stewardship.
With industrial-scale facilities in Duluth and Coleraine, MN, NRRI works across five strategic research platforms. These platforms address Minnesota’s soil, forest, water, and mineral resources:

1. Applied Ecology and Resource Management
2. Minerals and Metallurgy
3. Materials and Bioeconomy
4. Data Collection and Delivery
5. Commercialization Services

About NRRI Coleraine Labs:
Situated near Minnesota’s minerals and forestry resource-based industries, NRRI’s Coleraine Lab is a world-renowned center for minerals and biomass conversion and their connections to land, forest, and water resources. NRRI Coleraine possesses the facilities, equipment, and highly qualified staff to conduct applied research for private and public sector clients in Minnesota, North America and around the world. The lab has a wide range of equipment for conducting studies at both laboratory (grams/pounds) and pilot scales (tons). Laboratory and pilot scale capabilities include mineral characterization, mineral processing, metallurgy, and biomass conversion to energy and agronomic products.


Working at the University

At the University of Minnesota, you’ll find a flexible work environment and supportive colleagues who are interested in lifelong learning.  We prioritize work-life balance, allowing you to invest in the future of your career and in your life outside of work.

The University also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Competitive wages, paid holidays, and generous time off
  • Continuous learning opportunities through professional training and degree-seeking programs supported by the Regents Scholarship
  • Low-cost medical, dental, and pharmacy plans
  • Healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts
  • University HSA contributions
  • Disability and employer-paid life insurance
  • Employee wellbeing program
  • Excellent retirement plans with employer contribution
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) opportunity
  • Financial counseling services 
  • Employee Assistance Program with eight sessions of counseling at no cost

Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for more information regarding benefits.

How To Apply

Applications must be submitted online. Applicants are required to complete the online application for the position and must attach a cover letter and resume. 

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Job Applications" page and uploading documents in the "My Cover Letters and Attachments" section.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).

This position is located at Coleraine Labs in Coleraine, MN.


The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission.  The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  To learn more abut diversity at the U:

Employment Requirements

Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.