Advert. No. 2019_0023
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, and will host and operate the southern array of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the world's largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre 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.


For its Project Management Department (PMD) and the ELT Programme Office, within the Directorate of Programmes (DOP), ESO is advertising the position of

ELT AIV Manager


Vacancy closed on 05/06/2019

Deadline 05/06/2019

The ELT AIV Manager will perform a wide range of duties at the ELT construction site on Cerro Armazones, Chile.

This is an excellent opportunity for professionals who have extensive experience in Assembling, Integration, Testing and Verification of large scientific / technology / engineering / construction projects and who wish to play a key role in a large international project.

The AIV Work Package develops in two phases: i) Planning (on-going) and ii) AIV Execution on site (expected to start in 2021).

During the i) Planning phase the selected candidate will familiarize with the project and act concurrently as:

a) Contract Manager for the procurement of AIV (operation) supporting systems;

b) AIV Team member, participating in the detailed planning and subsystem design reviews.

During the ii) AIV Execution at Paranal/Armazones, the successful candidate will be the AIV Manager and shall, in cooperation with the relevant Project/Work-Package Managers, supervise and coordinate the:

a) Assembly Integration and Verification of the whole ELT system;

b) Technical commissioning of the ELT and hand over to the Science Commissioning Team.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

During the i) Planning phase, the main duties will be:

As Contract Manager for the supporting systems:

Define, procure and install plants and tools required for AIV and future operation, as for instance:

  • The mirror coating plants, both for the M1 mirror segments and for the larger mirrors;
  • The M1 Washing and Stripping plants;
  • Other equipment to be installed in the ELT Technical Facility;
  • Specific handling and transportation tools;
  • Components of the cryogenic system.

As member of the AIV Team:

  • Participate in design reviews and in technical meetings with contractors or internal project teams developing ELT subsystems to ensure that those are suitable for an effective AIV and, in close cooperation with ESO's Safety Managers and specialists covering various technical disciplines, to ensure that the products meet the relevant safety requirements.
  • Participate in acceptance tests/reviews.
  • Take part in the trainings provided by the contractors (in Europe or/and in Chile) for AIV purposes.
  • Closely cooperate with the AIV Manager (Europe), the Programme Engineer and the Project Controller in the development, review and optimization of the planning and preparation of the on-site AIV activities. Contribute to the finalization of the AIV plan including defining strategies, budget and resources.
  • Participate in the development of an integrated AIV plan for the ELT instruments in collaboration with the instrument consortia.
  • Review and refine the AIV procedures to be followed on site, basing on subsystem documentation and experimental facilities such the ELT M1 Test Facility at ESO Headquarters, recommending optimizations/changes to the specific designs and defining and procuring the required equipment (tools, metrology instruments, etc.).
  • Prepare for taking over the AIV management when AIV Execution on site will commence.

During the ii) AIV Execution on site the AIV Manager will have to establish the on-site AIV Team, supervise and coordinate the reception, storage, preparation and assembly of the various subsystems, their integration in the ELT system, its commissioning, maintenance and hand over to the Science Commissioning Team after having achieved the "First Light" while providing support to them until start of operations.

In addition, during this phase the AIV Manager will cover the functional role of ELT Site Manager having the overall responsibility for the Armazones Site. In this function she/he will coordinate the activities such that conflicts that may arise due to overloading of contractors (e.g. access to cranes and other facilities) or clashes of resources within ESO have the minimum of impact. In addition she/he will liaise with the Paranal Organisational Units to coordinate support, access to facilities, supply of services (board, lodging, Security, Safety, etc.) for the involved personnel.

Among the several AIV Manager responsibilities, some are identified as follows:

  • Build up the on site AIV Team defining the resources provided by other Organisational Units through the ESO matrix or to be outsourced.
  • Complete the definition and purchase of the specific AIV tools and equipment including but not limited to alignment tools, consumables, etc.
  • Supervise and coordinate the on site AIV team, to accomplish the assembly, integration, erection, alignment, testing, maintenance and commissioning activities at Paranal Observatory and Cerro Armazones for the ELT to be ready for commissioning with scientific instruments. Specifically:
    • Perform incoming inspections of each ELT subsystem delivered on site ensuring proper warehouse storage and inventory of its components, in collaboration with the relevant subsystem Project Manager;
    • First coating of the mirrors: M1 segments, M2, M3, M5, M6;
    • Assemble the components of each subsystem (or provide assistance, if the assembly is included in the scope of the relevant Project/Contract) and their integration into the relevant host subsystem (Main Structure, Dome, building infrastructure) according to the procedures defined by the delivering party and the contract;
    • Pre-alignment of the various optics: M1 to M5, Prefocal station, Laser Guide Star, etc.;
    • Pre-calibration of the various look-up tables and pre-tuning of the various control loops to ensure that the functional performance requirements are met, in collaboration with the Control System team;
    • Evaluate system performance against the requirements according to the ELT Verification plan and relevant procedures;
    • Obtain the "First Light";
    • Technical Commissioning;
    • Coordination and support of the AIV activities of the Instruments done under the responsibility of the Instrument consortia off-telescope and on-telescope;
    • Integration of the Instruments into the Telescope.

  • Provide support during the scientific commissioning until start of operations.
  • Maintain and follow up the AIV Plan and associated requirements ensuring, with the support of the Programme Control, it is properly implemented in the scheduling tool (Open Plan).
  • Training of ESO staff for early operation and maintenance of the ELT.
  • Import/data entry of information, documents and drawings into the Paranal maintenance and documentation archive.
  • As defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations, performing duties at altitudes exceeding 3000 m above sea level, requires regular medical assessments to ensure physical fittness.

The above responsibilities are not exhaustive and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt to operational needs are required.

Reports to:

The Head of the Project Management Department (PMD) and the Programme Engineer of the ESO Extremely Large Telescope



  • The successful candidate will have at least ten years of relevant professional experience in the management/ AIV and Commissioning of large multidisciplinary technology based projects.
  • Familiarity with the standard PM tasks and concepts, such as structural breakdowns, schedule and resource planning, change and risk management, as well as demonstrated ability to build, develop and lead project teams.
  • Solid background in contract management of projects of relevant size.
  • A strong technical background in one or more relevant disciplines, e.g. opto-mechanics, controls, electronics etc.
  • An established record of successful management and technical leadership in assembling, integrating, testing and verifying large multidisciplinary projects.


  • Knowledge and experience with the development, testing or operations of astronomical instruments (optical and/or infrared, ground or space based) is considered a valuable asset.

Key Competences:

  • Leadership competencies including: ability to formulate and communicate long-term visions, interpersonal communication and negotiation skills and capacity to foster effective teamwork developing close working relationships also with team members located in different geographical locations/time zones, with different cultural background and from different professional specialities.
  • Capacity to interact diplomatically and constructively with other organisational units, contractors, research institutes and governmental authorities.
  • Ability to provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communication identifying key issues, examining options and proposing steps ahead presenting information in a clear and logical manner.
  • Ability to monitor progress of own work performed and that of the team, plan activities, contribute to system design and to work under pressure to deliver to agreed deadlines and standards.
  • Familiarity with scheduling/planning tools such as Open Plan, MS Project, etc.
  • Prepared to travel frequently among the ESO sites and to Contractors and Partners (in Europe and elsewhere).


University degree (MSc) in Mechanical or Optomechanical Engineering or Physics, or an equivalent educational level. A formal qualification as a project management professional will be considered an asset.

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - oral, reading and writing is essential and a working knowledge of Spanish would be an advantage.

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.

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, in particular for the ELT Programme, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment.

Duty Station:

Paranal/Armazones, Chile. The working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site.

Career Path: VI


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit the ESO Home Page for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online via our ESO Recruitment Portal. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter upon request. Referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.

Deadline for applications is 5 June 2019.

Interviews are expected to be held soon afterwards.

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

Contact us