Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC241674
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £30056 - £41572
Date Posted 28 July 2017
Grade RC-D
Contract Type Open Ended
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 30 September 2017
Interview Date

Salary: £30,056 - £41,572
Grade: RC-D or RC-E (dependent upon experience)
Dependent on skills and experience relevant to the role appointment will be made at band D or E
Contract Type: Open-Ended
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 30th September 2017
Interview Date: TBC

RAL Space, part of the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, has a vacancy for an Optical Systems Engineer.

We have had significant involvement in over 200 space missions and are at the forefront of UK space research. The Optical Systems Group is responsible for the conception, design, development and test of optical systems for space instrumentation and for many ground-based astronomy projects. The group’s recent work ranges from an Earth-observing camera system for the International Space Station  to the design of the spectrograph optics for the WEAVE instrument to be installed on the William Herschel Telescope. The emphasis of our work is on the design and engineering of new, one-off, state-of-the-art optical instrumentation.

Your responsibilities may include:

  • developing concepts and designs for ground based astronomy and a variety of optical satellite instruments in the wavelength range from the extreme UV to the sub-millimetre
  • working with science teams to develop requirements
  • design, optimisation, tolerancing and analysis of optical systems
  • specification and procurement of optical components and supporting opto-mechanical systems
  • assembly, alignment and testing of optical systems
  • design and construction of optical test and calibration equipment
  • developing instrument performance models involving knowledge of radiometric errors, imaging and spectral resolution, calibration, and manufacturing and alignment tolerances
  • stray-light modelling and the design of baffling systems
  • liaise with other engineering disciplines to ensure that performance is maintained during the development of the electronics, mechanical & thermal aspects of the instrument
  • documentation of design, build procedures and test results
  • presentation and justification your optical designs to the science and project teams
  • presentation of your work at conferences.

Shortlisting Criteria


  • degree in optics, physics or a related discipline
  • a sound knowledge of optics and have a good understanding of optical design principles
  • experienced in developing optical systems
  • experienced in the use of industry standard optical design tools (e.g. CodeV, Zemax, ASAP, GLAD, PCGRATE)
  • experienced in optical alignment and measurement techniques
  • must be able to travel and work outside of the UK for short periods.


  • MSc. or PhD. in optics or a related discipline
  • further optics training (e.g. SPIE and other short courses)
  • experienced in the procurement of optical components
  • experience with projects involving the UK and international space or astronomical communities
  • an understanding of the design challenges of instruments operating under severe environmental conditions
  • system engineering knowledge or experience
  • knowledge of product assurance, including working within the ISO9001 standards
  • ability to work at high altitude.

Interview Criteria


  • demonstration of key optical skills (design, alignment & testing)
  • demonstrate an ability to interact with supporting engineering disciplines (e.g. electronics, mechanical and thermal design)
  • ability to work independently and as a team member
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • ability to work to demanding project deadlines
  • ability to learn quickly and adapt to new technologies
  • ability to multiplex across many projects.


  • ability to lead a technical team or demonstrate a project management role
  • ability to stimulate and nurture collaborations with academic and industrial partners
  • ability to anticipate the needs of a project.
In addition to the competitive salary, an excellent index linked pension scheme and generous leave allowance are offered. Full details of offered benefits can be found on STFC’s careers pages.

As this job does not fulfil the Home Office Code of Practice criterion for obtaining sponsored migrant worker status we will be unable to apply for sponsorship for anyone not eligible to work in the UK.   At interview, all shortlisted candidates are required to bring with them identification documents and original documents that prove they hold or can obtain the right to work in the UK. You can check your eligibility here:

Online applications only, please submit a covering letter and CV, ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the file name description of each document uploaded. No Agencies.

The closing date for applications is 30th September 2017, however applications will be reviewed and considered on an ongoing basis until this vacancy is filled.

We want to make our application process as easy for you as we possibly can. If you experience any problems in applying for this job, or have any feedback for us about the application process, please contact our Recruitment Hotline on 01793 867000 (8.30am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday). Please quote the appropriate IRC reference number when calling.