Advert. No. 2017_0055
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 (ELT), 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 03/01/2018

Deadline 03/01/2018

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

About the role:

The Optical Engineering Department provides support in the field of optics and photonics to all ESO projects within the ESO matrix organisation. 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 ESO's observatories 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 at least 3 years of professional experience to primarily support the ELT project in the area of optical manufacturing and optical verification. This position provides the opportunity to work in a collaborative international environment and hands-on participation at different stages in the development and procurement of large scale optical systems for astronomy.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Follow-up, as technical expert, the manufacturing of optical systems contracted to industry in the context of the ELT. This includes in particular critically assessing optical manufacturing and test error budgets, following-up of optical manufacturing and test activities; scrutinising the design of optical test set-ups and the test procedures generated by external contractors; proposing improvements if needed and critically assessing and reviewing the verification and acceptance plan and procedures as well as the compliance of optical systems with respect to the specifications.
  • Actively liaise with contractors during the manufacturing and testing phase. Actively participate to the test and acceptance of optical systems.
  • Support the ELT "Assembly, Integration and Verification" team for planning and executing integration activities on Cerro Armazones in Chile.
  • Provide support for problem solving on optical systems already in operation at ESO's observatories.

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

Skills & Experience:

  • 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).

You should have knowledge and a minimum of 3 years of professional experience in optical system manufacturing, verification and optical analysis, as well as experience in several of the following fields:

  • 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 engineering disciplines.


University degree in Optical Engineering or Physics (MSc or equivalent) , with at least 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 as Functional Manager. For the assignment of ELT related tasks the ELT Optomechanics Project Manager will coordinate and request the tasks through the ESO matrix.

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 help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in day care.

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 further information, please view ESO's conditions of employment.

Starting Date:

As soon as possible

Duty Station:

ESO Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany. This position involves duty travel to the ESO sites in Chile and/or partner institutes in Europe, North America and Japan.


Please apply online via our ESO Recruitment Portal. Your application must be in English and include a motivation letter and CV.

Closing date for applications is 3 January 2018.

We welcome all applications, however, preference will be given to nationals of ESO Member States irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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