SPIE Career Center
NOTE: You will be creating an SPIE user account. After the account is created you will be redirected back to the Career Center to sign in.
Browsing Job 27 of 133
In order to Apply for this job you must be signed into your user account. New users can register by selecting Create an Account.
Save Job
In order to Save this job you must be signed into your user account. New users can register by selecting Create an Account.

Head of Engineering Operations

AURA Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., La Serena, Chile
Employer Description

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 40+ US institutions and four international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomical Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Job Description

Gemini Observatory has an opening for a Head of Engineering Operations, based in La Serena, Chile. Gemini Observatory operates two world-class, optical-infrared, 8m telescopes in Hawaii and in Chile. The Observatory is managed as a partnership between the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Korea and Chile. Gemini is the leading large Observatory for time-domain astronomy, and strives to be the best observatory in the world for the execution of flexible, innovative, and efficient science programs.

The Head of Engineering Operations oversees the Gemini South Engineering Operations group and all its engineering activities. Ensures that it is responsive to scientific and operational priorities established by the Observatory and coordinated between the Operations and Development groups, and that this support is consistent with the overall scientific mission and budget of the Observatory.

The Gemini South telescope is located at the summit of Cerro Pachón, at an altitude of about 2900m. The Base Facility is located in La Serena, which is a popular seaside town with a population of about 200,000, has a temperate climate, and a substantial international astronomical community. For queries regarding this position please contact Dr. René Rutten (rrutten@gemini.edu). Further information about Gemini Observatory can be found at http://www.gemini.edu/

Duties and Responsibilities:

  1. Manages all Gemini South engineers and the facility management staff; this includes performance assessment, staff training and the development of engineering talent.
  2. Oversees near- and long-term telescope facilities, instrument maintenance and upgrades.
  3. Supports the Development group activities by in particular providing engineering resources to Development activities enabling instruments to meet technical specifications and be delivered within budget and on schedule.
  4. Takes responsibility for safety aspects in the work place.
  5. Conducts on-going evaluations of engineering operations activities and monitors Key Performance Indicators.
  6. Develops appropriate instrument maintenance and improvement plans.
  7. Plans to provide supporting infrastructure and resources to future and current operational instruments and for visiting instruments as needed.
  8. Plans and schedules strategic projects; develops strategic management goals.
  9. Maintains excellent relations with internal and external customers, and reports to them.
  10. Financial management responsibility: controls the Gemini South Operations Engineering budget and authorizes purchases.


Job Requirements

Job Specifications:

  1. Requires high degree of professionalism and discretion.
  2. Must possess the skills to build and maintain a high-performing team.
  3. Requires the ability to delegate and to give employees a chance to reach their full potential. Must be able to handle conflict in such a way as to maintain productive relationships.
  4. Must have the ability to maintain a view of the “big picture” and communicate it to colleagues at all levels.
  5. Requires flexibility, adaptability and unflappable demeanor.
  6. Ability to reconcile competing demands and ensure that important issues are handled along with emergency or urgent issues. Requires excellent judgment and insight.
  7. Frequent international travel is required.
  8. Must be fluent in the English language; must be prepared to learn Spanish.
  9. Must be willing to live in La Serena, Chile.
  • Strategic Management: Work with the Associate Directors and the engineering staff to ensure that, at the highest levels the Observatory continues to realize the goal of a single, cohesive, competent, focused, productive Observatory-wide Operations team of the highest quality. Requires a desire and the know-how to drive the effort to make the telescopes the best possible in ground-based astronomy. Responsible for management and planning of strategic, future engineering functions. As a member of Senior Management, will report directly to the Gemini-South Associate Director of Operations. Gemini Observatory is currently working with other AURA centers to launch the new National Center for Optical-Infrared Astronomy (NCOA), which integrates together the operations of the night-time, ground-based facilities managed by AURA. As a member of Gemini management, will work closely with other leadership across NCOA to ensure successful launch and operations of NCOA.
  • Operations Management: Responsibilities include oversight of infrastructure and support services required to conduct the day-to-day technical and observing functions of all systems within the telescope enclosures as well as daily and long-term maintenance of telescope facilities and instruments, hardware and software, telescope facility upgrades and instrument development; and engineering interfaces across all levels, internally within the Observatory and externally, as appropriate. Specifically, must provide line management of all engineers in Gemini South Engineering Operations, and for the Observatory Site Team.
  • Budgetary Management: Manages Gemini South Operations Engineering budget. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Engineering or related discipline required; in exceptional cases, a BS in Engineering with equivalent, relevant experience may substitute for Master’s Degree.

Experience Required:

Previous experience managing large projects and facilities; background in astronomical observatories, aerospace or similar area would be helpful; experience managing large software and or adaptive optics programs would be a plus. Previous experience working in astronomical facility would be highly desirable. Previous experience managing large budgets for large projects is required. Proven track record in establishing programs of excellence, innovation and inspiration. Previous experience in managing or overseeing large technical projects, and managing a multidisciplinary engineering team, is desirable. A high awareness of matters of health and safety in the workplace is essential.

Skills Required:

Requires change management skills; demonstrated ability to work effectively in a team in an operational environment; proven track record in establishing programs of excellence, innovation and inspiration in a diverse environment; excellent communication skills; ability to write clearly-worded reports at a level required by Gemini Governance and to develop/deliver clear and inspiring presentations. Must possess financial and accounting knowledge as well as experience with budgetary management software. Consensus-building skills; ability to think on feet; requires flexibility and adaptability to work in a dynamic environment. Gemini South: Bilingual Spanish-English preferred.




12 April 2019
12 May 2019
Masters Degree
Manager / Supervisor
Research and Development