Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC251205
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £38318 - £58308
Date Posted 28 October 2019
Grade UKRI-Band E
Contract Type Open Ended
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 28 November 2019
Interview Date

Brief Description

Salary: Band-E £38,318 to £45,576 or Band-F £48,877 to £58,308 (dependent on skills and experience and inclusive of annual allowance)
Grade: Band E/Band F
Contract Type: Open-Ended (permanent)
Hours: Full time/Part time (minimum 26 hours per week).
Closing Date: 28th November 2019


About us

RAL Space, UKRI’s space laboratory based at the STFC Harwell Campus, has a number of vacancies for Optical Systems Engineers.

RAL Space enjoys an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. We have had significant involvement in over 210 space missions and are at the forefront of UK space research.

About the role

The Optical Systems Group is responsible for the conception, design, development, procurement, assembly, integration and test of optical systems for space instrumentation in Space Science, Solar Research, Earth Observation, Planetary science and optical communications.

The work spans the entire project life-cycle, from early stage conceptual R&D right through to instrument verification and calibration, and potentially mission post-launch support. In addition, RAL Space has key roles in ground-based astronomical instrumentation through the UK’s Astronomy programme. New RAL Space projects with significant optical engineering requirements include ARIEL (an Exoplanet mission for ESA), Lagrange (a Space Weather mission to monitor potentially disruptive solar activity on Earth-infrastructures) and a Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) secure communications technology demonstrator (a UK‑Singapore collaboration). We also have roles in the R&D of first-light instruments for the European Extremely Large Telescope. The emphasis of our work is on the design and engineering of new, one-off, state-of-the-art instrumentation.

As an Optical Systems Engineer, your responsibilities cover the full life-cycle of optical instrument development, from early conceptual design work through to analysis and reporting on working instruments:

  • Working with science teams to develop project requirements
  • Conceptual system designs
  • Developing instrument performance models involving knowledge of radiometric errors, imaging and spectral resolution, calibration, and manufacturing and alignment tolerances
  • Design, optimisation, tolerancing and analysis of optical systems
  • Stray-light modelling and the design of baffling systems
  • Specification and procurement of optical components and supporting opto-mechanical systems
  • Assembly, alignment, testing and verification of optical systems
  • Design and construction of optical test and calibration equipment
  • Documentation of design, build procedures and test results.

In addition, as a Lead Optical Systems Engineer, you may also be responsible for:

  • Technical leadership of a group of engineers
  • Technical lead and management of future proposals
  • Overall project management of instrument delivery programmes
  • Leading optical work within international consortia.

RAL Space is a highly multi-disciplinary environment, so engineers are expected to liaise with other specialists to ensure that performance is maintained during the development of the electronics, mechanical and thermal aspects of instruments. You will need to be capable of presenting and justifying designs to scientists and engineers, both in internal team meetings, project consortium meetings, agency design reviews and public conferences.

This role will offer the opportunity to travel and work outside of the UK for short periods.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at
The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.

Shortlisting and Interview Criteria

Band E Essential:

  • Degree (or equivalent experience) in optics, physics or a related discipline (S)
  • Experienced in optical design, optimisation, analysis, tolerancing and procurement (S&I)
  • Experience with developing and building optical instrumentation (S&I)
  • Experienced in optical alignment and measurement techniques (S&I)
  • Experienced in the use of industry standard optical design tools (e.g. CodeV, Zemax, ASAP) (S&I)
  • Demonstrate an ability to interact with supporting engineering and science disciplines (I)
  • An understanding of stray-light analysis and control (S&I)
  • Ability to explain technical concepts effectively. (I)

Band E Desirable:

  • Further optics training (e.g. SPIE and other short courses) (S)
  • An understanding of the design challenges of instruments operating under severe environmental conditions (I)
  • Experience with projects involving the UK and international space or astronomical communities (S&I)
  • Ability to research novel optical design concepts and techniques. (I)

 Band F Essential:

All of Band-E Essentials and Desirables plus the following:

  • Demonstrable in-depth understanding of imaging and spectrographic optical systems (I)
  • Proven track-record in the design, optimisation, analysis, tolerancing, procurement, building and testing of optical systems (S&I)
  • Ability to lead the development of optical instrumentation and proven team leadership skills (S&I)
  • Ability to stimulate and nurture collaborations with academic and industrial partners (S&I)
  • Authored conference and/or refereed papers (S)
  • Utilised new technologies or novel optical design. (I)

Band F Desirable:

  • System engineering experience (S&I)
  • Project management role (S&I)
  • IoP Chartered Physicist or equivalent. (S)


UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

To enable us to hire the very best people we will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.

Employee Benefits

UK Research and Innovation recognises and values employees as individuals and aim to provide a pay and rewards package that motivates staff to perform to the best of their ability. The reward package includes a flexible working scheme, a Career Average Revalued Earnings pension scheme, 30 days annual leave allowance and a number of other benefits.

Developing Talent

We are committed to developing employees in their roles throughout their career. Learning and development plans enable employees to continue their professional development through training and development opportunities such as e-learning, classroom training and on-the-job experiences. We encourage our employees to share their learning across teams and organisations.

Equal Opportunities

We strive to make decisions based on individual merit and ability. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and promote equality of opportunity in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. As holders of Disability Confident Employer status, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

Online applications only. Please submit a covering letter and CV ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Please note that failure to address the above criteria or submitted without a covering letter may result in your application not being considered.

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