Advert. no. 2016_0001
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 ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.

ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


For its Directorate of Engineering at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Instrumentation Engineer/Physicist


Vacancy closed on 04/03/2016

Deadline 04/03/2016

The Instrument Systems Department within the Directorate of Engineering 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.


  • At least three years experience in the technical development of opto-mechanical or opto-electronical systems, ideally for astronomical applications,
  • Several years of experience in system engineering and/or instrumentation project management,
  • Industrial/Consortium contract follow-up experience would be a plus,
  • Experience in working in multi-disciplinary teams,
  • Skills in modelling instrument performance would be a plus.

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.


Educated to MSc degree level in astronomy, physics or in an engineering discipline.

Language Skills:

Excellent command of the English language is essential

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial support in relocating family members and the possibility to place child/children in daycare. The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There is a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit

Duty Station:

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

Career Path:



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 4 March 2016.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

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

Contact us