Senior Engineer/ Senior Scientist – APEX Station Manager (2019_0022)

Type of contract:

Senior Engineer/ Senior Scientist – APEX Station Manager (2019_0022)

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Application closing date: 30 June 2019 

The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment is a collaboration between the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and Onsala Space Observatory (OSO). APEX operations in Chile have been entrusted to the La Silla Paranal Observatory (LPO) on behalf of the APEX Board. APEX employs around 20 staff members (engineers, scientists, and support staff) who operate this single-dish, modified ALMA prototype antenna, located on the high-altitude site (5.100m a.s.l.) of Chajnantor near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The Station Manager will be responsible for the successful execution of the project within budget and schedule in accordance with APEX Board’s decisions. Working closely with the teams from the APEX partner institutes and other external partners involved in the project, the successful candidate will be responsible for a broad range of scientific and operational matters including, but not limited to, the operation of the antenna and its suite of state-of-the-art facility instruments and its/their continuing upgrades, including preventive and corrective maintenance, as well as managerial logistic and other administrative aspects. The main tasks of the successful candidate will include:

  • Managing technical and scientific operations and other operational issues of the antenna and its facilities;
  • Implementing overall Board science policies and strategic planning, and preparing reports required for the site’s successful operations;
  • Participating in and supporting all installations at the telescope (facility and PI);
  • Participating in and supporting commissioning and science verification activities; performing acceptance reviews for all facility deliveries, provide acceptance reports for all facility deliveries to the Board;
  • Advising on and implementing improvements and optimizations of the sites’ operations and its facilities through project follow-up;
  • Implementing and following-up safety issues as defined by the APEX Board;
  • Managing observing schedules, including technical time, and coordinating observing time;
  • Directing all aspects of the site’s facilities ensuring full operability;
  • Managing personnel and budgetary matters, coordinating and optimizing the use of the manpower available at the site;
  • Regular reporting to the APEX Board and liaising with APEX partners and other interlocutors involved in the project.

Reports to:

S/he will report directly to the APEX Board and to the La Silla Paranal Observatory Director.

Key Competences and Experience:

Essential Competences and Experience The position requires the ability to manage and prioritise a variety of technical, logistical, astronomical and practical aspects. S/he must be able to base and justify decisions on technical as well as astronomical judgments. Excellent communication skills and a strong sense of team spirit are essential.

Desirable Competences and Experience

Ability to effectively lead, supervise, mentor, develop and evaluate staff and design training/skills enhancement initiatives to ensure effective staff development.


University degree in Engineering, Science or equivalent with five years of relevant “in the field” engineering and operation experience in competitive multi-discipline scientific or high technology projects. This position requires a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of submillimetre wavelength detector and antenna technology. Also, a thorough understanding of the operations of an astronomical submillimetre wavelength observatory, both from the engineering, scientific and operational point of view is essential. Experience in the management of collaborative international or inter-agency scientific projects would be an advantage.

Language Skills:

The position requires a good knowledge of English. Working knowledge of Spanish or willingness to learn it.

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European Southern Observatory (ESO)

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is the pre-eminent intergovernmental science and technology organisation in astronomy. It carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities for astronomy, in order to enable important scientific discoveries

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