It sounds like you are interested in instrumentation as it relates to observational cosmology.
U Arizona (I think it's technically their optical engineering and not physics department, but whatever) has a lot of guys working on designing and making super-huge-and-awesome telescopes, including a bunch of parts for LSST, etc.
Stanford is kind of the center for LSST
Berkeley is pretty much a huge center for observational cosmology (CMB experiments, the soon-to-maybe-be-approved supernova sattelite JDEM, the south pole telescope, etc.)
Chicago is also a great place for this kind of work (Dark Energy Survey, South Pole Telescope, etc.)
Also good, but with a bit fewer people: CalTech.
I know I just gave a list of super hard-to-get-into schools, but a lot of instrumentalists have trouble finding good students. If you were to contact them, and explain your excellent engineering qualifications, you might find that they could you you with admissions. Maybe.
You might want to also try looking at the abstracts of the annual American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting. See if you can find the abstracts of the experimentalists sections, then see where they are from.
Best of luck!