Advert. No. 2020_0040
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 Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department (MSE), at the La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, ESO is advertising a Local Staff member the position of:

Maintenance Engineer


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Deadline 16/10/2020

The successful candidate will be part of the Support and Quality Assurance Group and responsible for the maintenance management implemented in all the technical facilities at the observatory and also prepare the proper maintenance strategy and its implementation to be carried out for the ELT programme. The candidate will lead analysis and improvement proposals based on modern maintenance methodologies oriented to support decision making and optimize the maintenance performance at Paranal Observatory towards an efficient and effective management of the assets.

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, 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. SQA is comprised of 6 staff (engineers and administrative officers) and is responsible for various "back-office" type supporting functions to the technical and scientific operations at large, in particular: planning technical activities including the contracted maintenance services, asset management in general through a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and support to users, quality management and assurance on the site, outsourced contract management like the central (technical) warehouse (and the supply chain associated), support for documenting technical processes, support for purchasing to users, etc.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

1) Identify and lead in close collaboration with system responsible the development of new projects/strategies focused on improving maintenance management at the observatory by:

  • Systematic monitoring, development, and refining of the Preventive Maintenance and On Condition Plans, to propose, implement and upload in the CMMS.
  • Review of value-added maintenance tasks, to anticipate failures and avoid waste of resources.
  • Promote best practices used by the industry in maintenance and planning management, material management and assets configuration control.
  • Driving of continuous improvement activity by means of a continuing analysis to optimize the use of the assets (costs and availability); identify improvement opportunities in the maintenance plan and processes; analysis of repetitive failures and problems that adversely affect Observatory operations. To fulfill this responsibility, the maintenance engineer would apply modern data analysis techniques like reliability-availability-maintainability analysis (RAM), Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Risk Analysis.
  • Strong interaction with ELT programme, in order to advise the better way of setting-up maintenance plans.

2) Explore MAXIMO's unused potential for the observatory (KPIS, data, reports, FMA module, measurement points among others). In the same way, lead improvements to the CMMS in order to ensure tool fit with the necessities of the observatory and coordinate globally efforts of improving the way we use CMMS, the way we optimize the PM plans in agreement with engineers, the way we improve the interaction and quality follow up of the contractors on those maintenance activities.

3) Support transversal activities of SQA, in particular Planners and Quality Assurance engineer for tasks when needed and especially when they are not on site.

4) Define proper process modeling under his/her responsibility. It will include other processes that may affect the maintenance management of the observatory.

5) Quality Assurance and Quality Control related activities as defined by Group Leader.

6) Participate and contribute to Paranal System Engineering, Change Control Board and other activities as requested by Group Leader and Head of Department.

Reports to

Support and Quality Assurance Group Leader.


At least five years of demonstrated experience in maintenance management of large fleets, operational/productive facilities and ideally astronomical observatory environments, in the fields of maintenance management strategy, reliability (RAM), continuous improvement, leading small maintenance management projects, maintenance data analysis and implementation of resulting action plans.

Key Competences:

1) Interpersonal and team working skills.

2) Disciplined and assertive attitude to the permanent analysis of maintenance strategy.

3) Operations management

4) Supply chain management

5) Maintenance planning process

6) Multidisciplinary thinking-acting (incorporate different groups or skills available in other groups when needed)

7) Computer skills for office Packages

8) Very good knowledge of a CMMS and preferably IBM-MAXIMO.

9) Knowledge and familiarity with the following analysis techniques and methodologies is also required:

  • Data analysis techniques: Statistical process control, Process Modeling, Reliability, prediction, fault tree analysis, Weibull analysis, Six Sigma, etc.
  • Reliability, Availability and Maintainability Analysis (RAM)
  • Root cause analysis (RCA)
  • Risk Analysis.


Degree: Execution or Civilian Engineering from University or equivalent Institutions Specialties: Industrial, mechanical, electronics, electrical or equivalent oriented to the necessities of Position.

Language Skills

ESO is an international organization where the official language is English. It is required that the candidate has a good command of written and spoken English.

Remuneration and Contract

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, comprehensive maternity-parental, educational, and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating the candidate's family, where applicable. Please see a summary at The initial contract is for a period of two years with the possibility of extension, subject to evaluation.

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 during the shifts.

Career Path


Starting date

As soon as possible.


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit for further details. Non-Chilean applicants to this role must reside in Chile and have a pertinent working permit, according to Chilean regulations, at the time of their application.

ESO is committed to equal opportunities. The post is equally open to suitably qualified candidates irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

Applicants are invited to apply online at Applications should include a motivation letter and CV in English. References may be required. Interviews will be held in English.

Deadline for applications is 16 October 2020.

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