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Young Graduate Trainee for On Board Computer - Reliable Embedded Systems

  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location:
  • Grade: F1 - Young Graduate Trainee - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
  • Closing Date: 2019-12-15

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Young Graduate Traineeship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. Applications from women are encouraged.

Young Graduate Trainee for On Board Computer - Reliable Embedded Systems

This post is classified F1.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands 

Our team and mission

The Data Systems Division is responsible for project support and technology development of space applications for everything that concerns on-board data handling and processing systems (essentially control computers, data handling computers, specialised processors for payload data processing, solid state mass memories, microelectronics devices, Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), data and command/control busses, on-board networks and corresponding support software).

The Division is also responsible for covering all active and passive EEE Components families (photonics, high frequency, passive, hybrids, etc.) and for ensuring that reliable EEE Components are flown on ESA spacecraft and survive in the harsh space environment for the duration of the project lifetime. EEE Components are an important part of every ESA spacecraft, defining the performance of its platform and payloads. 

The Division is additionally responsible for microelectronics activities such as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) and ASIC-related designs and verification.

Candidates interested are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity

You will be integrated into the On-Board Computer & Data Handling Section of the Data Systems, Microelectronics & Component Technology Division at ESTEC.

Software-based data acquisition/processing and simple control applications are widely used on many spacecraft subsystems. They allow the implementing of software-based control architectures that provide higher flexibility and greater autonomous capability than hardware-based implementation. For this type of application, where limited performance levels are required of the processor, general-purpose microprocessors are usually considered not compatible due to high power consumption, high pin-count packages and the need for external memories and peripherals. Low-end microcontrollers are considered more attractive in many applications: propulsion system control, sensor bus control, robotics applications control, motion control system, remote terminal unit, power control, particle detector instrumentation, etc.

ESA has started the design and development of new microcontrollers for space applications in the form of IP Cores and Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips.

Laboratory activities are needed to test the first development items and produce reference designs. Benchmarking of selected commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) microcontrollers will be used to compare performance and reliability with reliable microcontrollers. Specifically, you will:

  1. Become deeply familiar with ESA developments in the area of microcontrollers and gain familiarity with EEE Components (integrated circuits) and their characterisation methodologies.
  2. Support analyses and studies of potential applications for the new microcontrollers.
  3. Support the Section lab activities performed in the ESTEC avionics lab for characterisation and performance verification of new microcontrollers.
  4. Define and develop validation and verification suites for new microcontrollers based on VHDL language and HW/SW test equipment (C, LabView)
  5. Use machine learning for sensor libraries to implement an artificial intelligence concept for microcontrollers and sensors that contains a completely configurable artificial neural network.
  6. Carry out bullets 3 to 5 on a selected COTS microcontroller for comparison with the reliable one and propose suitable approaches to up-screening of the COTS microcontroller for potential use in CubeSat-related applications. 

You will be guided in the requirements specification and architectural definition of on-board avionics sub-systems based on new microcontrollers. This training opportunity will provide hands-on hardware and software development experience.

Technical competencies
Knowledge of relevant technical domains
Relevant experience gained during internships/project work
Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities
Knowledge of ESA and its programmes/projects
Behavioural competencies
Self Motivation
Continuous Learning
Cross-Cultural Sensitivity

You should have just completed, or be in the final year of a university course at Master's level (or equivalent) in a technical or scientific discipline.

Additional requirements

You should have a solid background in engineering or science and be eager to acquire and maintain the necessary knowledge, skills and judgment to accomplish results and improve work processes.

Experience with programming or modeling software, such as MATLAB or Simulink, would be an asset.

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset. 

You should demonstrate good interpersonal skills and the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team.


During the interview your motivation and overall professional perspective/career goals will also be explored.

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.

The closing date for applications is  15 December 2019.

If you require support with your application due to a disability, please email


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Slovenia, as an Associate Member, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia as European Cooperating States (ECS).

Priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented Member States.

In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

What does it mean?

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