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Opto-Mechanical/AIT Engineer


  • Organization: ESO - European Southern Observatory
  • Location: Garching
  • Grade: Mid level - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Engineering
    • Outer space and satellite technology
    • Mechanics and Electronics (Engineering)
  • Closing Date: Closed

We are looking for an opto-mechanical engineer with a strong interest in Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) of astronomical telescopes and associated instrumentation. Applicants should have a good understanding of opto-mechanical design and manufacturing principles applied to AIT, as well as optical alignment and metrology techniques.

The Optical Engineering Department comprises a team of 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, metrology for telescope alignment, laser guide stars, optical fibre technology and Assembly Integration and Testing(AIT) of optical systems and instruments. In addition it supports the La Silla- Paranal Observatory in solving optical problems arising in systems in operation.

Within the optical department, the Optical Alignment and Metrology group has its roots in the integration and test of optical systems for astronomical instrumentation as well as optical alignment of telescopes and instruments. It manages 900m2 of optical and opto-mechanical integration laboratories at ESO headquarters.

This position provides the opportunity to work in a collaborative international environment and hands-on participation to large scale optical systems and instrumentation for astronomy.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Support the ELT AIT team in the area of optical engineering for ELT subsystems. Define, Plan and execute AIT tasks both in ESO's laboratories and later at the ELT Observatory.
  • Issue comprehensive AIT plans and AIT test reports including compliance assessment.
  • Provide support to the preparation of the ELT instruments' AIT. Participate to instrument's project reviews and actively follow-up AIT aspects.
  • Provide support to the La Silla-Paranal instruments (both in operation or planed) in the area of AIT and problems solving arising in optical systems in operation.
  • Actively support the maintenance and development of the department's laboratories and integration infrastructure, including their instrument and tooling assets.
  • Monitor new development in optical testing, alignment and integration of optical systems; Identify where they could be applied to ESO's projects for improving performance or efficiency. Define and conduct evaluation and validation test set-up as needed.
  • This position may involve interactions with European and non-European suppliers and institutes. Extended missions to ESO's observatories in Chile may be required.

Reports to:

Head of the Optical Alignment and Metrology group in the Optical Engineering Department as functional manager within ESO's matrix structure.

Key Competences:

Essential Competences

  • Good understanding of opto-mechanical design and manufacturing principles applied to AIT.
  • Good understanding and experience with optical alignment & metrology techniques as well as optical aberrations.
  • Experience with sensitivity & tolerance analyses as well as optical alignment error budgets.
  • Ability to design, implement and validate tools and test set-ups tailored to AIT tasks.
  • Ability to plan and perform optical system testing in a thorough and systematic manner.
  • Ability to identify key issues, assess options, and propose a way forward to manage risk. Ability to troubleshoot, and find solutions to technical issues; Provide clear, concise and timely verbal and written communication. Escalate priority issues appropriately.
  • Ability to follow and apply new methods and developments in the field of optical alignment, testing and integration; Be proactive in acquiring new skills and quickly develop expertise.
  • Plan activities, monitor progress of your own work, deliver to agreed deadlines and standards.
  • Capacity and motivation to work in a team. Building strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and engineering disciplines.

Desirable Competences

  • Familiarity with optical design software (preferably OpticStudio) and CAD software (preferably Inventor).
  • Familiarity with simulation & data analysis software (e.g. Python or Matlab).
  • Familiarity with optical detectors, wavefront sensors.
  • Familiarity with Astronomical instrumentation.


Candidates should have at least 3 years' experience in opto-mechanics with a focus on integration and testing optical systems. Significant laboratory and/or field experience would be an advantage.


A University degree in optomechanical engineering, optical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, or a related technical field. A First level University degree in combination with relevant working experience and/or additional technical qualifications will be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.

Language skills:

The position requires a good working knowledge of English.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and support to place your child/children in daycare.

Our Salary Structure

ESO's salary structure is based upon a range of career paths which reflect the nature and level of our jobs. Each career path is made up of two or three grades which are used to further reflect experience.

Please follow this attached link for more details

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 ( 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 may be a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment ( 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 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 15.06.2024

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

ESO Values

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

The ESO Values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication.

Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


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, equitable and inclusive workforce. Please visit for further details.


No nationality is in principle excluded from employment at ESO, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of our Member States, host states and strategic partners: 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.

This vacancy is now closed.