Advert. No. 2020_0057
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) within the Directorate of Programmes, and within the framework of the on-going construction in Chile of the ELT Dome and Telescope (Dome & Main Structure (DMS)), ESO is opening the position of

ELT DMS Deputy Project Manager


Vacancy closed on 22/12/2020

Deadline 22/12/2020

The selected candidate will be assigned to the Dome and Main Structure (DMS) team in charge of the supervision of the contract for the design, fabrication, transport, erection, commissioning and testing of the protective enclosure ("Dome") and of the telescope structure ("Main Structure") of the ELT at the Armazones site in Chile.

ESO conducts its projects following a matrix-based approach. Staff from other directorates are assigned to projects from the department fulfilling a common technical set of expertise to form a project team which is then led by a project manager.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The DMS Deputy Manager will be one of the key persons contributing to the follow up of the procurement contract for the DMS reporting for the project tasks to the responsible DMS project manager. The contract for the design, construction, erection, commissioning and testing of the ELT Dome and Main Structure has been awarded by ESO to an industrial consortium in 2016. At the present time the design is being finished and the manufacturing activities in Europe of the Dome have started and those of the Main Structure will start soon. For the construction on site (Cerro Armazones, Second Region in Chile), the DMS Contractor has erected a construction camp at the mountain with workshops, dormitories and logistical facilities. Construction started in 2018, and at the present time all excavations are finished, and the foundation works of the DMS is well advanced. While production in Europe is continuing, the erection on site of the steel structure is due to start in 2021, first with the rotating enclosure (Dome) and later with the telescope structure (Main Structure). Delivery of the finished DMS is currently planned for 2024 but remains subject to change.

The DMS Itself is a very complex system involving numerous disciplines, like mechanics, structural engineering, thermal control, safety and fire protection, power distribution and electric engineering, electronics & software, control engineering, manufacturing engineering and quality assurance, amongst others. Technical challenges presented by the selected DMS Contractor involving these disciplines will need to be overcome not only during the design phase, but also up to and including commissioning and delivery phases of the DMS for ESO.

As Deputy DMS Project Manager, the selected candidate will have general responsibilities in monitoring the work of the DMS Contractor. The various tasks which are expected to be delegated to him/her by the DMS Project Manager, will depend on his/her level of experience and knowledge, but should ultimately include:

  • Supporting the ESO DMS Project Manager in the supervision at both technical and programmatic level of the industrial contract for the design, production and erection of the DMS and its subsystems.
  • Monitoring the adherence by the DMS Contractor to the Statement of Work in force. The Statement of Work covers all aspects related to the design, the qualification testing, the manufacturing, transport, construction, erection, commissioning and acceptance testing of the DMS and its subsystems like Dome, Auxiliary Building, Chiller Plant and Main Structure.
  • Holding regular coordination meetings with the DMS Contractor with formal minutes and to follow the agreed actions. Ensure that any agreement reached with the DMS Contractor receives the proper contractual follow-up and written endorsement by ESO Management and ESO's Contract and Procurement Department, in accordance with the contractual rules.
  • Getting knowledgeable with all aspects of the DMS design and provide technical support to the design process in collaboration with engineers from the ELT group and the Department of Engineering. This may require coordination of internal technical activities to review or answer the DMS Contractor's queries.
  • Monitoring the detailed system and subsystem performance resulting from design and from subsequent activities. To redact, when needed, technical and coordination memos to the DMS Contractor on specific design assembly and testing issues.
  • Supporting the DMS Project Manager in monitoring technical interfaces with other systems of the ELT programme and coordinate with the ELT Systems Engineering team to ensure resolution of potential conflicts.
  • Helping to organise the gate reviews foreseen by the Statement of Work in force. This includes some remaining design reviews, manufacturing readiness review, and shipment readiness reviews in Europe.
  • Maintaining the technical specification set out as the base of the contract. This means collecting and preparing changes, monitoring interfaces to other subsystems of the ELT, like optomechanical systems and others, and perform regular updates of the specification documents to follow evolution and agreements.
  • Contributing to the organisation and monitoring of testing in Europe when applicable and acceptance testing in Chile.
  • Providing support, according to the instructions of the DMS Project Manager, to the site team following the work performed on-site by the DMS Contractor. This support may be associated to quality, planning and will demand regular duty travels to the construction site in Chile.
  • Review and comment upon the various plans produced by the DMS Contractor, with regard to assembly, verification and testing.
  • Organising, supporting and participating in the key inspection and integration points on site and formal Test Readiness Review and Acceptance Testing Reviews of the DMS. These will take place in close collaboration with the DMS team on site, based on an agreed DMS verification plan.

Additional tasks as part of the ELT team and as member of the Project Management Department may include:

  • Supporting the ELT team with input to the Risk Register and regular internal reporting.
  • Supporting on demand design reviews for other subsystems of ESO projects.
  • Participating in and report at regular DMS coordination meetings.

The above responsibilities are not exhaustive and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt to unexpected needs is essential.

Reports to:

Head of the Project Management Department

Key Competences and Experience

Applicants should have a minimum of 5 years of experience as a project manager of complex projects preferably in an international environment.

For this position ESO is seeking an engineer with strong technical experience in the area of large multidisciplinary projects demanding a deep understanding of complex systems, such as telescope systems, aerospace systems, power plants or comparable installations and facilities. S/He should have a significant background in end to end engineering projects, starting from design all the way to commissioning and acceptance testing of complex systems, passing through phases of qualification, manufacturing, assembly and testing of systems. Experience in managing engineering projects and contractor(s) is also necessary.

Essential Competences and Experience:

  • A solid technical expertise and experience in engineering of complex systems, providing ability to understand various engineering disciplines;
  • Specialist expertise and experience in one or more of the involved design disciplines, like structural engineering, mechanics, thermal engineering, control, electronics, power distribution amongst others;
  • Experience in managing and monitoring of complex projects;
  • Ability to understand and manage high level technical and quality requirements, understanding operating procedures, quality assurance and configuration control processes;
  • Understanding of contractual rules of engagement between customer and contractor;
  • Experience in direct monitoring of contractors using a strict formal contractual frame;
  • Ability and willingness to travel in Europe and in Chile, including extended stays if needed;
  • Physical and mental fitness and endurance, to perform extended missions on a remote construction site with local and international staff, with harsh atmospheric conditions and at a high elevation (3000m above sea level);
  • Demonstrated strong ability to integrate and coordinate multidiscipline and multicultural teams, focusing on the success of the project.

Desirable Competences and Experience:

  • A good understanding of civil, mechanical and electrical installation and commissioning of complex systems such as telescopes, industrial or power plants or similar turnkey projects is an asset;
  • Experience in precision alignments and measurements of optomechanical systems;
  • Experience with configuration control and quality assurance;
  • Experience with JIRA-based applications;
  • Ability to balance conflicting demands and priorities, day-to-day activities versus longer-term tasks, and to work under time pressure;
  • A clear understanding of the human aspects associated with the running of a large construction and erection site;
  • Flexibility to adapt and react to project needs with a focus on meeting cost, quality and schedule;
  • Ability to and experience of working both on your own initiative and within teams in an international and multicultural environment.


  • A university degree in Electrical, Mechanical, Aerospace engineering or equivalent degree is mandatory;
  • Good knowledge of Microsoft Office software (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams etc.) is mandatory;
  • Certification as a project management professional will be an asset;
  • Other qualifications which would be considered an asset include dedicated training in the fields of contract management, configuration management or quality assurance.

Language Skills:

  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills;
  • A good knowledge of Spanish will be an asset;
  • Knowledge of other European languages will be welcome.

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.

ESO aims to support members of personnel in maintaining a good work-life balance ( between their professional and private life. ESO is also committed to offering family-friendly support (, creating a work environment and policies which allow staff to balance their professional and private responsibilities through flexible working arrangements and financial support for families.

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 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:

The duty station of the post is located in Garching, Germany. Regular duty trips to the La Silla Paranal observatory and the ELT construction site, or temporary relocation to Chile, will be expected during the construction phases of the ELT.

Career Path: V


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating 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 22 December 2020

Interviews are expected to start early 2021.

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, 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, Chile, 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