Sr. Research Specialist (Artificial Intelligence Research) - ESDA Division

CNA, 3003 Washington Blvd, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America ● Virtual Req #317
Thursday, March 17, 2022
CNA fosters an inclusive culture that values diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Our flexible and engaging work environment encourages iterative and creative collaboration at every stage of the problem solving process. Our employees are committed to helping clients develop effective solutions to better manage their programs through scientific, data-driven approaches. We are looking for creative and innovative individuals to help carry out our mission.

CNA is currently seeking a Senior Research Specialist for our Enterprise Systems and Data Analysis (ESDA) division in our Institute for Public Research. Candidates will join a strong team researching applications and considerations of the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) within the government.

The candidate will conduct research as to AI/ML system design and best practices and will contribute to developing a certification framework to help our government partners to evaluate AI/ML technologies used in aviation. The certification of AI/ML technologies is a necessary step to ensure AI/ML is safely and consistently implemented across aviation and also in other government sectors. 

Candidates will support government clients to evaluate new and advanced technology capabilities for aviation services. Research how aviation applications of AI/ML will enable the evaluation improvement upon manual processes and human-centric functions, process large amounts of aviation data, and leverage technological capabilities that are growing rapidly in the field of AI. The Senior Research Specialist will be a key team member that will engage with programs developing AI/ML technologies and evaluating AI/ML model techniques (e.g., regression, classification, deep reinforcement learning) and the use of training data sets. Candidates will contribute research concepts in white papers and succinct presentations.

The location of this position is flexible and can be either remote or onsite.

Staff at this level will be leading smaller/less complex activities or will be serving as an important contributing team member on projects.  Demonstrates analytical competence by doing independent research on AI/ML best practices, standards, and software assurance practices. Collaborates with government clients, industry, and stakeholders. 

1. Apply standard research methodologies to gather, process, and analyze data. Use relevant database software to effectively organize and present data and generate reports.  Demonstrate facility at the intermediate level with Microsoft Office and other standard CNA software packages to accomplish primary duties. Structure such project tasks as literature reviews, environmental scans and interviews. Take responsibility for drafting the corresponding sections of reports. Begin to structure problems of moderate scope and design research, technical assistance or proposal development tasks.   Ability to construct briefings using MS PowerPoint and intermediate to advanced skills with MS Word and Excel and other standard software packages.

2. Develop a basic familiarity with the missions and organizational structure of the division or team's major client/sponsors. Develop institutional knowledge of at least one primary client/sponsor. Identify key personalities in their organization, and have some sense of the client/sponsor’s relative importance to CNA.

Participate in meetings with project team. Support preparation for client/sponsor interactions. Identify client/sponsor POC for their projects. Maintain awareness of major communication between the project team and client/sponsor POC for any project for which they are involved. As needed, contribute in meetings with client/sponsor and project team.

4. Develop a sufficient understanding or expertise on specific tasks, issues or data so as to make a positive contribution to project outcomes.

5. Develop basic knowledge about CNA, its organization, key personnel and personalities, and relevant CNA standard operating procedures (SOPs), to include basic knowledge of CNA business environment. Understand the concepts of core, above core, and above ceiling/ domestic. Have basic awareness of the project development process. Develop fluency in the CNA business environment and SOPs including the procedures for initiating and closing projects, hiring subcontractors and consultants, and monitoring revenue and costs and other project related activities. Capable of contributing to most financial discussions at the project level.

Possess the skills necessary to communicate information concisely, precisely, and in a grammatically correct manner in oral and written communication. Present and summarize data effectively. Draft sections of reports, briefings, or other project deliverables in accordance with requirements and scholarly norms (if applicable).

Work more independently on focused, well-structured pieces of projects, and estimate how much time and resources they will need as they embark on these tasks. Work under close supervision on broader strands of the project. Track personal project spending. Begin to understand project budgeting and financial tracking over the project lifecycle.

8. Exhibit a positive attitude in interactions with colleagues, clients/sponsors, and staff. Take responsibility for own actions and outcomes. Be proactive in seeking ways to improve processes and operations and in making CNA a better place.

9. Perform other duties as assigned.



1. Education: Bachelor’s degree plus at least 2 years of experience with a designated technical skill (research, programming, data analytics, engineering, etc.) or a Master’s degree.


2. Experience: Minimum 2 years’ relevant experience required.


3. Skills:

  • Microsoft Office; database management; good interpersonal and oral and written communication skills; strong critical thinking and organizational skills; knowledge of research techniques.
  • Ability to make contributions to projects/analyses;
  • Strong analytic curiosity/ creativity;  
  • Ability to operate independently in the execution of assignments; 
  • Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary environment; 
  • Strong critical thinking skills; 
  • Knowledge of research techniques and creation of research plans and approaches; 
  • Knowledge of AI and ML techniques and applications; 
  • Knowledge of information systems and the software development lifecycle; 
  • Experience supporting AI/ML projects in data collection, model training, or evaluation; 
  • Experience in planning for system testing and evaluation, and in particular AI/ML testing and data training;
  • Strong planning and organizational skills; 
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills; 
  • Ability to interact positively and somewhat independently with clients
4. Other:
  • Serves as a team member contributing to research on their application.
  • Knowledge of FAA and international aviation domain, information technology, and cybersecurity policies preferred.
  • Ability to obtain and maintain an Active Secret Security Clearance
***Voluntary (but highly desired) document***
Please include a personal statement as part of your application. A personal statement is a chance for us to get to know you. The statement is your opportunity to share your goals, interests, influences and show us that you will be a valuable asset to our organization. Please click here for personal statement guidelines – Click here
Personal statements will not be used as an elimination criteria for this position. They will only be used to enhance a candidate’s application 

CNA is committed to providing equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, military service and protected veterans, or other non-merit based factors. In addition to federal legal requirements, CNA complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. These protections extend to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting and hiring practices, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training and career development programs. For more information about EEO protections, please view the EEO is the law posters here: "EEO is the Law" Poster""EEO Poster Supplement". The pay transparency policy is available here: Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Poster. To be considered for hire, all individuals applying for positions with CNA are subject to a background investigation. For positions requiring access to classified information, U.S. citizenship is required. Individuals will also be subject to an additional government background investigation, and continued employment eligibility is contingent upon the ability to obtain and maintain an active security clearance.

Other details

  • Job Family Research
  • Job Function Career Path II - Expert & Research Specialist
  • Employment Indicator (none)
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  • CNA, 3003 Washington Blvd, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America
  • Virtual