Advert. No. 2014_0013
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive astronomical observatory. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in the Atacama Desert region of Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. The ESO headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany. ESO is the focal point for Europe's participation in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) consortium, which is currently constructing a large submillimetre array in the Chilean Andes. The concept and design of a 39-m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is also currently underway at ESO.


For the Directorate of Engineering (DoE) at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is searching an

Instrumentation Engineer/Physicist


Vacancy closed on 31/05/2014

Deadline 31/05/2014

The position is in the DoE's Instrument Systems Department that is responsible for the design and development of advanced optical and infrared instrumentation for the telescopes of ESO's La Silla-Paranal Observatory and for the future Extremely Large Telescope. Some of the instruments are developed in-house at ESO - when manufacturing is usually sub-contracted to industry - but most are developed and built by consortia of Institutes in the community, with ESO being the customer for these instruments. We are looking for an experienced instrumentation engineer who will be responsible for the development and building of astronomical instrumentation from the first concepts to the final product delivered to and tested at the observatory.

The successful candidate will be motivated not only by the new technical and managerial challenges but also in developing her/his interpersonal skills within an international environment.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will

  • Work within the core teams responsible for in-house instrument development fulfilling the formal role of system engineer and/or project manager, and leading the team of engineers working on the project, or
  • Work within the core teams collaborating with/supervising external instrumentation consortia, supporting project management and/or system engineering from the ESO side
  • Collaborate with ESO engineers from other projects and observatories to define common approaches and standards
  • Provide support to the Observatory staff for maintenance and problem solving for delivered instrumentation

A limited amount of time (20%) may be available for scientific research.

Duty trips, e.g. to ESO sites in Chile, are required.

Reports to:

The Head of the Instrument Systems Department


  • At least five years experience in the technical development of opto-mechanical or opto-electronical systems, ideally for astronomical applications;
  • Several years experience in system engineering and/or management of small to medium size projects;
  • Several years experience in working in large multi-disciplinary teams.

Key Competences:

  • Work both on your own initiative and as part of a team;
  • Contribute ideas for improvements and developments to the working of the team;
  • Take over responsibility and take decisions;
  • Build strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines;
  • Flexibility in adapting to changes of requirements and priorities as well as of assignments;
  • Capability to work for different projects and with different teams (matrix structure), also in parallel.


University degree in astronomy, physics or an engineering discipline

Language Skills:

Excellent command of the English language

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in daycare.

The initial contract is for a period of three years with the possibility of a fixed-term or indefinite extension based on technical and managerial achievements. The title or grade may be subject to change according to qualification and the number of years of experience.

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany with regular duty trips to all ESO sites in Chile.

Career Path:


Starting date:

as soon as possible


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online via our recruitment portal Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and your CV. In your CV you should provide us with the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter on request.

Closing date for applications is 31 May 2014.

Although recruitment preference will be given to nationals of ESO Member States (members are: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom) no nationality is in principle excluded.

The post is equally open to suitably qualified female and male applicants.

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