Mechanical Engineer/Cryogenics

Employer: ESO European Southern Observatory
Job location
Garching near Munich
Job term
Job closing date

The Mechanical Engineers will be involved in collaborations with mainly European companies and/or consortia for the design, construction testing and installation of instruments and sub-units for ELT and VLT. They will also support the design and laboratory test activities of ESO developments and deliverables. Frequent visits to contractors' premises and extended stays or temporary transfers to ESO's observatories in Chile are required to support contracts follow-up, installation and commissioning activities.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Support ELT and VLT programmes for mechanical design, mechanical engineering, cryo-vacuum technologies, water cooling applications and AIV
  • CAD and mechanical design of telescope infrastructure, instruments, sub-units and detector systems for applications at cryogenic temperature
  • Support the ELT instrumentation infrastructure project in design and characterization of specific key technologies e.g. low vibration cooling, vacuum and cryogenic systems
  • Testing and optimization of standard cryo-vacuum components, in particular Liquid Nitrogen cooling systems and pulse tube cooler systems operating as low as 4 Kelvin
  • Supervision of manufacture, integration and commissioning of instruments and infrastructure up to on-site installation at observatories
  • Following-up and reviewing developments of instruments and cryo-vacuum systems from external consortia

Reports to:

Head of the Instruments and Cryogenic Systems Group of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Key Competence and Experience:

Essential Competence and Experience

  • Familiar with European standards for engineering, drafting and documentation
  • Sound knowledge of standard metal machining processes
  • Good understanding of mechanical systems, structures and mechanisms
  • Experience in performing basic structural and thermal FEA
  • Basic knowledge of astronomical instrumentation including their application at cryogenic temperatures
  • Familiar with standard MS office tools (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams)
  • Good sense for team spirit
  • Ability to analyse and resolve problems together with project managers, technical specialists and other stakeholders
  • Ability to prepare documentation in the form of technical reports and presentations
  • Ability to work in parallel for different projects, teams, priorities and within a matrix structure
  • Effective and committed team player with ability to look for pragmatic solutions
  • Excellent cross-disciplinary communication skills both oral and written
  • Willingness to acquire new skills, develop system understanding and keep up to date with the tools used in the daily work

Desirable Competence and Experience, which are not mandatory, but considered an asset

  • Experience in design and laboratory testing of optical / cryogenic instruments or sub-units
  • Experience in cryogenics and vacuum technology
  • Familiar with specific provisions for using materials under vacuum and at very low temperature
  • Experience in design and laboratory testing of cryogenic cooling systems
  • Basic knowledge in functionality and operation of cryo-coolers
  • Experience in water cooling system design and installations
  • Good knowledge of Autodesk INVENTOR and VAULT
  • Pro-active approach to contribute ideas for improvement and future developments


University degree (MSc) in Mechanical Engineering, or equivalent educational level.

Language Skills:

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

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 organisational requirements, in particular for the ELT Programme, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. 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 the position. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment (

Duty Station:

The position is based in Garching, Germany. Frequent traveling to contractor sites in Europe and to construction sites in Chile is not excluded. The jobholder will be required to work at high altitudes above 3000m. Temporary or permanent transfer or/and long missions to Chile might be needed.

Career Path:

IV or V, depending on qualification and experience.


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 25.09.2021.

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