Advert. No. 2017_0005
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.


ESO is looking for one

Optical Engineer


Vacancy closed on 25/03/2017

Deadline 25/03/2017

to work in the Optical Engineering Department, within the Directorate of Engineering at ESO's Headquarters in Garching, near Munich.

About the role:

The Optical Engineering Department provides support in the field of optics and photonics to all ESO projects. The technical expertise offered by the department includes the optical design, integration and tests of optical systems as well as photonics technologies and laser guide stars. The department provides support for Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) of opto-mechanical systems. In addition, it supports the observatory in solving optical problems arising in systems in operation. The department manages the optical and opto-mechanical integration laboratories at ESO headquarters. We are looking for an optical engineer with several years of professional experience to support the department activities in the area of optical system verification and optical analysis for current and future ESO projects This position provides the opportunity to work in a collaborative international environment and hands-on participation at different stages in the development of small and large scale optical systems for astronomy.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Provide support to the specification of optical systems and their production contacted to industry. This includes in particular specifying tests and verification requirements, critically assessing optical manufacturing and test error budgets, following-up of optical manufacturing and test activities; Scrutinize the design of optical test set-ups and the test procedures generated by external partners; propose improvements wherever needed and critically assessing and reviewing the verification plan as well as the compliance of optical systems with respect to the specifications.
  • Provide optical analyses and optical engineering budgets to the ESO teams of system engineering, wavefront control and "Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV)". Define and implement test and alignment procedures for telescopes and optical units.
  • Actively participate to the test of optical systems. Generate comprehensive test reports.
  • Provide support to observatory staffs for problem solving on optical systems already in operation.

The position requires traveling within the ESO Member States. In addition, extended visits to ESO's observatories in Chile may be required

Skills & Experience:

You should have knowledge and several years of professional experience in optical system verification and optical analysis, as well as experience in several of the following fields:

  • Knowledge of high-performance optical manufacturing and testing
  • Capability to assess the quality and impact of an optical design in the context of a larger system containing the optics
  • Knowledge of optical metrology, including standard optical test-set-up and equipment, but also for off-axis and aspheric optics (e.g. using CGHs)
  • Design and implementation of optical test set-up
  • Generation of optical tolerance analysis, error budgets
  • Knowledge of opto-mechanical design principles and optical design software (preferably Optics Studio)


  • Ability to identifying key issues, assessing options, and proposing a way forward to guaranty risk and problem control.
  • Strong analytical skills, rigorous approach to engineering disciplines.
  • Provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communications that identify key issues, examine options and propose a way ahead.
  • Be proactive in seeking and applying modern methods and tools. Acquire new skills, adapt to new procedures.
  • Monitor progress of your own work, deliver to agreed deadlines and standards, plan activities and been able to work under pressure.
  • Ability and motivation to work in a team. Building strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines (e.g. mechanical engineering, integration and verification).


University degree in Optical Engineering or Physics (MSc or equivalent) , with three years of professional experience.

Language Skills:

The position requires a good working knowledge of English.

Reports to:

Head of the "Telescope and Optics Group" of the Optical Engineering Department.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (income-tax free), 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 day-care.

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

Starting Date:

As soon as possible

Duty Station:

ESO Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

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 at Your application must be completed in English and include a motivation letter and 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 25 March 2017.

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.

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