Advert. No. 2021_0031
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 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.


Due to the need for additional resources associated with the ESO programmes, for its Mechanical Engineering Department, within the Directorate of Engineering at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Mechanical Engineer


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Deadline 25/09/2021

As a member of the Directorate of Engineering the successful candidate will work in the ESO matrix structure serving various projects and fulfilling tasks received from Project Managers. She or he will be assigned to the Telescope and Large Structures Group in the Mechanical Engineering Department and support projects, for example ALMA and ELT construction in the field of Mechanical Engineering. This includes involvement in many project phases typically consisting of design studies, contract follow-up, manufacturing, AIV and commissioning.

The Mechanical Engineer will be involved in collaborations with mainly European companies and/or consortia for the design and construction of large steel structures and optomechanical subunits of the ELT as well as support to the ALMA Antennas and transporters. Frequent visits to contractors' premises and extended stays or temporary transfer to ESO's observatories in Chile are required to support contracts follow-up, installation, commissioning and maintenance activities.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Support ALMA antenna and transporter maintenance and mechanical design activities
  • Support ELT AIV activities in handling, installation and precision adjustment schemes for delicate equipment including safety aspects
  • Generate and update CAD and BIM models by combining models received from contractors
  • Mechanical design and follow-up of supporting structures, for example instrument mounting platforms and handling tools
  • Develop design solutions for ELT subsystems at least to conceptual level, e.g. handling tools, auxiliary equipment and lifting devices for large optomechanical components
  • Participate in technical reviews, progress meetings and acceptance inspections

Reports to:

Head of the Telescope and Large Structures Group of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Key Competence and Experience:

Essential Competence and Experience

  • Minimum of three years of relevant experience in mechanical design, e.g. large structures, machinery and high precision mechanisms
  • Good working experience with a state-of-the-art 3D CAD system
  • Good knowledge of design and manufacturing processes to coordinate engineering drafting and contribute to the production of engineering documentation
  • Basic knowledge of Finite Element Analysis program to communicate efficiently with colleagues working in such areas
  • Excellent communication skills with a strong sense for team spirit necessary to work in an international team environment
  • Ability to work in parallel for different projects, different teams, priorities and within a matrix structure
  • Willingness to acquire new skills, develop a system understanding, keep up-to-date with the tools used in the daily work

Desirable Competence and Experience, which are not mandatory, but considered an asset

  • Practical experience with hydraulic and cooling systems
  • Experience with handling and lifting of large mechanical structures
  • Industrial experience in the areas of machinery design or design of large precision systems
  • Field experience in AIV (assembly, integration, verification)
  • Experience with modern manufacturing technologies, their limitations and with state-of-the-art measuring methods
  • Sound background in European design and construction standards
  • Familiar with commanding Autodesk Inventor, Navisworks, Revit and BIM, or similar CAD software


University degree (MSc) in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent educational level.

Language Skills:

The position requires an excellent working knowledge of English (written and spoken). German and Spanish would be an asset.

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

Duty Station: The position is based in Garching, Germany. Frequent traveling to contractor sites in Europe and to construction sites in Chile is required. The jobholder will be required to work at high altitudes above 3000m. Temporary or permanent transfer or/and long missions to Chile might be needed.

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 25.09.2021.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

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, ethnicity or religion.

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