Advert. No. 2017_0036
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 Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the world's preeminent facility for millimeter and submillimeter-wave astronomy with transformational capabilities to study the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets. ALMA consists of 66 antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile, and equipped with receivers covering atmospheric windows between 30 and 950 GHz.

ALMA is a partnership of the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI). ALMA continued development and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia.

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the continued development, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

The Joint ALMA Observatory invites applications from staff members of the JAO, ESO, NAOJ and NRAO/AUI for the position of:


Mechanical Technical Lead

OSF, San Pedro de Atacama

Vacancy closed on 25/08/2017

Deadline 25/08/2017

Duties and Responsibilities

Responsible of providing expert level support to investigate, troubleshoot and implement improvements for mechanical and cryogenic matters in the ALMA Department of Engineering (ADE). The position reports to the Engineering Services Group (ESG) manager. The Mechanical Technical Lead will be responsible for:

  • Following up for relevant technical fields, hardware performance, while detecting and analyzing potential problems.
  • Supporting/leading investigations of complex mechanical and cryogenic problems while liaising with all relevant ESG, ADE and sometimes ALMA-wide stakeholders until successful resolution is achieved.
  • Scrutinizing and developing the content of the maintenance plans, with the aim of enhancing the efficiency and reliability of the same.
  • Leading Continuous Improvement Process Projects with the different operational teams to optimize workflows and efficiency.
  • Identifying with the Infrastructure Maintenance Group and Array Maintenance Group leaders and relevant operations engineers, the needs in technical training to raise staff multidisciplinary capabilities.
  • Develop operations technical documentation (mainly procedures) with relevant key performance indicators to allow long-term follow-up of operational systems.
  • Contribute to technical/operational trade-off analysis processes and risk assessments with any/all levels of the Joint ALMA Observatory and regional stakeholders.

Professional Requirements/Qualifications

Applicants for this position should fulfill the following requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree (University Degree) in Mechanical and/or Cryogenic Engineering, or demonstrated equivalent work experience.
  • Minimum 5 years of work experience in managing industrial maintenance and/or astronomical observatory maintenance programs and strategies.
  • Must possess a valid driver's license.
  • Experience in working for a multicultural and multinational environment.
  • A strong ability to lead by influencing and mentoring staff.
  • Excellent leadership and interpersonal skills, including ability to work in teams and flexibility to receive and incorporate feedback received from different areas.
  • Advanced level of English, both written and spoken.
  • Good command of Spanish would be an asset.

Due to travel requirements and work at high altitudes, a successful high altitude medical check is a necessary condition of employment for this position.

Duty Station / Location of Position

The duty station is mixed between the Santiago Office (25-50%) and the ALMA operations site near San Pedro de Atacama (50-75%): the Operations Support Facility (OSF) at 2900 m and the Array Operations Site (AOS) located on the nearby Llano de Chajnantor at 5000 m altitude. Occasional international travel will be required.

Starting Date

As soon as possible.


The remuneration will be revised between the selected candidate and the employing Executive, according to the relevant rules and regulations. Furthermore, if applicable, an expatriation allowance as well as some other allowances will be added. Qualified engineering managers with extensive relevant experience are invited to apply.

Applicants submitting their application to ESO are invited to apply online at <>. The position requires three letters of reference, which shall be sent to .

Applicants submitting their application to AUI/NRAO are invited are invited to apply by sending their cover letter, CV at <> Please send three letters of reference to Joyce Ivory at .

Applicants submitting their application to NAOJ are invited to apply by sending their cover letter, CV and three letters of reference via email to

The initial deadline for receipt of applications to be considered for the position is August 25th, 2017.

Applications must be completed in English and should include a cover letter, CV, and three letters of reference.

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