Advert. No. 2017_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 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 Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department at La Silla Paranal Observatory, ESO is opening a Local Staff member position of

Mechanical Engineer


Vacancy closed on 08/05/2017

Deadline 08/05/2017

The successful applicant will be part of the Mechanical Engineering Group within the Maintenance, Support and Engineering (MSE) Department at the Paranal site of the La Silla Paranal Observatory. The MSE Department of the Paranal Observatory with a workforce of 80 engineers and technicians provides maintenance and technical support to the four 8m VLT telescopes, to the VLT Interferometer with its auxiliary telescopes, the VST and VISTA survey telescopes and to all instruments available for scientific observations. Astronomical instruments are large, complex facilities involving advanced technologies in the fields of optics, precision mechanics, electronics, cryogenics, detector acquisition systems and software.

The Paranal Mechanical Engineering (PME) group is comprised of 19 engineers and technicians and is responsible for:

  • 'Maintien en Condition Operationnelle' of all mechanical equipment (except Instrument), all cooling equipment (except Instrument), of some coaters and handling equipment, production of mechanical pieces, movement/lift of heavy equipment, and work package management of outsourced contract.
  • Support to other groups like Instrumentation Group in its fields of expertise and for Instrument movement, project teams for integration and testing of new equipment, and Electronics Group for Power Generation.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

The selected candidate will have the following responsibilities:

For the assigned system(s),

  • Be responsible of all maintenance activities and obsolescence analysis and perform troubleshooting and repair.
  • Ensure the availability and performance according to specification.
  • Propose change request and implement once approved (analysis, design, implementation, commissioning, documentation)
  • Interact with HQ expert and with Support and Quality Assurance group (planning, spare parts, Maintenance plan optimization, documentation and quality control)
  • Coordinate mid/long term activities (and short term when on site)
  • Lead root cause analysis, recovery plan and write report in case of critical failure.
  • Coordinate and supervise contractor activities in close coordination with the OSC WP manager.

Support activities:

  • Participate to the daily troubleshooting and corrective maintenance.
  • AIV of new systems and ensure the transfer of knowledge from project to MCO team.
  • Supports Instrumentation and Electronics Group in mechanical field.
  • Any critical LPO activities for which your competencies are requested by your manager.

Reports to:

Mechanical Group Leader of the Paranal Mechanical Group.


The ideal candidate has at least five years of professional experience in the field of advanced mechanical systems, preferably, involving high precision mechanics and/or opto-mechanical systems with knowledge of pneumatic, hydraulics and air conditioning system. Experience in telescopes and in a multicultural environment would be an asset.

Key Competences

  • Ability to understand the 'big picture' and the details of complex systems, their interfaces, and their performance.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems under difficult working conditions and with tight deadlines.
  • Real interest to learn maintenance and trouble-shooting techniques.
  • Having a fine grasp of practical work, in particular for mechanical assembly.
  • Strong sense of team spirit with the ability to work effectively in a multi-national and multi-cultural environment
  • Good self-organization.
  • Constructively suggest improvements to work processes.
  • Plan effectively and monitor progress of work, deliver results on time and to standards.


University degree in mechanical engineering.

Language Skills

The position requires excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

Career Path


Remuneration and Contract

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family. The initial contract is for a period of two years with the possibility of an indefinite extension, subject to evaluation. The title or grade may be subject to change according to qualification and the number of years of experience.

Duty Station

Paranal Observatory, located 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta, Chile. The working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site.


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 Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV.

Closing date for applications is 8 May 2017.

No nationality is in principle excluded, however applicants, Chilean or of foreign nationality, must have the pertinent working permit, according to Chilean regulations.

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

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