Advert. No. 2020_0046
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. Projects at ESO are organized in a matrix structure.


The Directorate of Engineering (DoE) comprises engineers and technicians from all the disciplines required to support the development of the ESO observing facilities. It is organized around functional departments.


The Directorate is seeking for:

Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department


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Deadline 13/11/2020

The Mechanical Engineering Department provides mechanical engineering support to all ESO projects. As part of the project teams the department members are responsible for the definition, design, analysis, procurement and initial assembly of mechanical, opto-mechanical, cryogenic and vacuum systems for advanced astronomical telescope and instrumentation systems for all ESO observatories.

The Head of the Mechanical Engineering department is expected to devote 40-50% of their time managing the department's 30 or so mechanical engineers, design assistants and technicians, whilst in addition being involved as mechanical engineer in one or more ESO projects.

Main Duties and Responsibilities as Line Manager:

  • Participate in the development and implementation of the DoE long-term strategy and develop and implement a department strategy that is in line with the DoE strategy and the Programme's needs;
  • Ensure that the competencies required to support and lead ESO projects in the mechanical engineering domain are available and maintained;
  • Provide line management to the staff and in particular to the direct reports (4), manage the Performance Management and Personal Development process (PMPD), evaluate performance and setting objectives in conjunction with the project managers and taking into account the needs for individual professional development;
  • Lead the resource allocation process for the department, allocating work to the staff as required in consultation with the relevant Project Managers ensuring a balanced distribution of the workload and optimal usage of the resources;
  • Provide staff members with technical support upon request.

Reports to:

Director of Engineering

Key Competences and Experience:

The successful applicant will have five years of working experience as a Mechanical engineer as well as three years of either line management or project management experience.

Essential Competences and Experience:

  • Relevant experience working as a Mechanical Engineer in one of the following fields: structural analysis, mechanical design of machinery and high precision structures, opto-mechanical systems or cryogenic instrumentation;
  • Proven experience (minimum 3 years) managing functional or project teams;
  • Desire to combine hands-on work with management responsibilities;
  • Excellent analytical, numerical and problem-solving skills;
  • Ability to manage a high workload, strong organisational/coordination skills;
  • Excellent communication (written and oral), presentation, persuasion and negotiating skills;
  • Proven ability to develop and maintain strong and effective relationships within the organisation;
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a diverse and multi-cultural environment.

Desirable Competences and Experience:

  • Basic knowledge of other multidisciplinary engineering fields (e.g. optics, control, electronics);
  • Experience working in a matrix organisation;
  • Working experience with a state-of-the-art 3D CAD system;
  • Working experience with Finite Element Analysis program;
  • Understanding of astronomical instrumentation and/or telescopes;
  • Field experience in Assembly, Integration and Verification.


University degree in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent.

Language Skills:

An excellent command of written and spoken English is essential.

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, policies that support a good work-life balance including flexible working, 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 organizational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit Please note that the contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are currently under review which may lead to changes in the contractual conditions applicable to this position.

Duty Station: Garching bei M√ľnchen

Within the role, there will be periodic travel to ESO Observatory sites in Chile.

Career Path: V/VI Appointment based on experience.


If you are interested in working in exciting frontline science and technology, and in a stimulating and challenging 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. 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 13 November 2020

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organization, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.

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, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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