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Lead System Engineer (m/f/d) for the ATHENA-WFI satellite project

Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany
Employer Description

The Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching (near Munich), Germany, is a world-leading institute for developing and operating state-of-the-art astronomical instruments. Over the past years, MPE has been leading the international development of several major space- and ground-based instruments, including XMM-Newton, Herschel, eROSITA, EUCLID, GRAVITY VLT ESO telescopes, the ARGOS laser guide star for the LBT.

Within the framework of the next large ESA space mission ATHENA, MPE is the lead Institute responsible for the Wide Field Imager (WFI), one of the two instruments aboard the X-ray mission, and leads the international consortium responsible for the WFI development. The sensor-adapted frontend ASIC is being optimized and further developed for the analogue signal readout of the active pixel sensor, which is based on the unique Silicon DEPFET technology.

Job Description

Lead System Engineer (m/f/d) for the ATHENA-WFI satellite project

The project is seeking an experienced system engineer with proven industry experience as a practicing system engineer in addition to have been an accomplished design engineer in any of the primary engineering disciplines (optical, mechanical, electronics, control and/or software engineering) as an early stage engineer.

As the lead Systems Engineer, you will be typically part of the Project Management Team and you will be responsible for the requirements analysis, capturing and management, the overall system design, assembly, integration, verification, installation, commissioning and delivering of the astronomical and scientific products. Working as a senior member of the team, reporting to the Principal Investigator and the Project Manager, you will have ample opportunities to innovate and develop new technical solutions.

Your Tasks:

  • Requirements engineering, including the analysis and flow down of those requirements to sub-systems, capturing of requirements (using a requirements capturing tool such as DOORS) and ensuring that requirements and interface definitions are under configuration control.
  • Overall System Design.
  • The definition and control of interfaces between the sub-systems.
  • Application of end-to-end systems analysis and modelling and the subsequent allocation and management of technical budgets/tolerances.
  • The development of integration and test plans which will verify compliance with sub-system and, ultimately, top-level requirements.
  • Support of system integration, verification and test in collaboration with the WFI Consortium, ESA and leading European space companies.
  • Technical Management and Risk Assessment.
  • Prepare technical documentation for milestones and reviews.

We offer:

  • A versatile, challenging and autonomous job in a dynamic and culturally stimulating international research environment in the development of satellite instrumentation.
  • Interdisciplinary work in a family team with experienced engineers and physicists.
  • Needs-oriented training opportunities.
  • Fair payment according to your qualifications and professional experience in accordance with the collective agreement for the public service (TVöD).
  • Company pension scheme (VBL).
  • Family service at the Garching research campus.
  • Underground station U6 directly in front of the institute.
  • Canteen in the immediate vicinity.
  • Reduced rates for certain insurance policies.
  • Free parking on the institute grounds.

The full-time position is initially for two years; however, contracts will be extended on a four-year cycle for the duration of the project. Currently the launch of Athena is planned for 2037.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Your application:

For more information of the work of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, visit http://www.mpe.mpg.de

Applicants should submit their documents including a cover letter, a curriculum vitae and certificates (in PDF format) online by Monday the 4th of December. Ideally, we would like to schedule the interviews for the week of the 11th of December 2023 and if needed at the latest the second week in January 2024.

(https://recruitingapp-5257.de.umantis.com/Vacancies/575/Application/CheckLogin/2?lang=eng )

Late applications may be considered if the position has not been filled.

Job Requirements

Your Qualification:

Essential: A completed scientific university degree (M.Sc. or Dipl.-Ing.) in engineering or an equivalent qualification with in-depth knowledge of scientific instrumentation development. A physics degree with applicable work experience in instrumentation development will also be considered.

Desirable: Master’s degree in Systems Engineering and being a Chartered Engineer with membership of a relevant institution would be an advantage.

Knowledge and Experience: Successful candidate is expected to bring proven industry systems engineering experience with designing astronomical or other complex systems.

Knowledge of:

  • Engineering management with a broad but not necessarily detailed, knowledge of the technologies involved in the engineering activities being managed.
  • Principles and methods of systems engineering and project management.
  • Principles and methods of requirements analysis.
  • Excellent conceptual and analytical skills to solve technical problems, involving problem definition, candidate solution identification, and solution selection.
  • Technical risk assessment.
  • Modelling languages, and relevant software tools.
  • Characterisation methods to evaluate candidate design alternatives.
  • System integration, tools, test equipment, principles and methods of validation.
  • Knowledge of ESA design and quality requirements (ECSS standards) is an advantage.


  • Planning, organising resources, motivating people, measuring performance and applying corrections where necessary.
  • To manage outwards, engendering confidence in the systems engineering from the stakeholders.
  • The ability to work independently on projects and in a team.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English.
  • Fluency in written and spoken German will be an advantage but is not essential.

Personal Skills and Attributes

  • Results orientated individual.
  • Issues and risk focus.
  • Focused on maximization of the value to the stakeholder(s) whom the design is to serve.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Willingness to raise issues when defects are discovered.

Ideally, you enjoy working your way through challenging topics and already have experience in development projects.

10 November 2023
10 December 2023
Masters Degree
Optical Satellite Engineer