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Optical Engineer

European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, Germany
Employer Description

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.


Job Description

We are looking for an optical engineer to support ESO’s ELT and instrumentation programmes, with a focus on optical analyses and optical systems verification. This position provides the opportunity to work in a collaborative international environment and hands-on participation to large scale optical systems for astronomy.

The Optical Engineering Department comprises a team of almost 20 engineers. The department provides engineering expertise to ESO’s projects within the ESO matrix organisation, in the areas of optical design for telescopes and instruments, active optics and wave front control, metrology for telescope alignment, laser guide stars, optical fibre technology and Assembly Integration and Testing of optical systems and instruments. In addition, the department manages 900m2 of optical and opto-mechanical integration laboratories at ESO headquarters and supports the observatory in solving optical problems arising in systems in operation.

Reports to:

Head of the “Telescope and Instruments Optics” group of the Optical Engineering Department as Functional Manager within ESO’s matrix structure.

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 organizational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit https://www.eso.org/public/jobs/conditions/intstaff/. 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 near Munich, Germany with regular duty trips to all ESO sites in Chile.

Career Path: V


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit http://www.eso.org for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at http://jobs.eso.org/. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and a CV. 

Deadline for applications is 30.08.2020.

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

Job Requirements

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Participate to the follow-up and review of telescope and instruments design and AIT activities, with a focus on optical analyses, error budget and optical system verification.
  • Support the ELT "Assembly, Integration and Verification” team for optical analyses and optical verification activities. Define and validate workflows as well as detailed procedures including success criteria.
  • Actively liaise, in coordination with ESO’s project managers, with external institutes and/or contractors during the design, manufacturing and testing of optical systems.
  • Actively liaise with the “Optical Alignment and Metrology “ group of the optical department for the design, tolerancing and performance validation of optical test set-up.
  • Develop the department’s know-how in the field of STOP analyses and characterization optical system performance. This includes the definition and implementation of dedicated studies and tests to validate key methods or components.
  • Provide support for problem solving on optical systems already in operation at ESO’s observatories.

Key Competences and Experience:


  • Broad knowledge of optical aberration theory;
  • Broad knowledge of optical tolerance analyses, sensitivity analyses, error budgets;
  • Familiarity with optical design software (preferably Optics Studio) and simulation/data analysis software (e.g. Matlab, Mathematica or Python, Spatial Analyser);
  • Practical experience with the verification of complex optical systems;
  • Strong analytical skills. Ability to identifying key issues, assessing options, and proposing a way forward to guaranty risk and problem control;
  • Be proactive in acquiring new skills and quickly develop expertise;
  • Provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communications;
  • Plan activities, monitor progress of your own work, deliver to agreed deadlines and standards;
  • Ability and motivation to work in a team. Building strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and engineering disciplines.


  • Minimum of 3 years of experience within the area of the aforementioned essential competencies;
  • Knowledge of opto-mechanical design and manufacturing principles;
  • knowledge of optical metrology and optical alignment based on modern techniques and equipment;
  • Familiarity with telescope collimation methods.


University degree in either Optical Engineering, Photonics Engineering or Physics (MSc or equivalent).

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - oral, reading and writing - is essential and a working knowledge of German or Spanish would be an advantage.

27 July 2020
26 August 2020
Bachelor's Degree
Optical Components, Lasers, Sensors