Optical Engineer

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ
Band D £31,931 - £34,709, Band E £39,748 - £44,166 + allowance of up to £3,000 doe
Closing date
9 Oct 2022

Job Details

Opticall Engineer

Salary: Band D £31,931 - £34,709, Band E £39,748 - £44,166 + an allowance of up to £3,000 dependant on skills and experience

Benefits: 30 days holiday + 8 bank holidays + 2.5 privilege days + exceptional defined average salary pension + excellent work life balance

Location: Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ

Contract: Open Ended

Closing date for applications: Sunday 9th October 2022


Come and do the kind of engineering that made you want to be an engineer. Stretch your technical skills while working alongside world-leading scientists and technologists.

Put simply, come, and discover the impact you can make when you’re equipped, encouraged, and inspired to perform to your very best. 

The UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) are looking for an enthusiastic optical engineer to join our team. The successful applicant will join the Applied Optics group at the UK ATC, working alongside an established and experienced group of optical engineers covering a range of optical disciplines. The group provides expertise in support of all UK ATC activities from initial conceptual designs through to commissioning of new instrumentation at observatory sites. 

About this opportunity:

You will apply your skills and creativity as an experienced optical design engineer to develop the next generation of instrumentation for ground- and space-based astronomy. You will be involved with all phases of our projects from conceptual design through to construction and performance testing, working on systems ranging in scale from satellites the size of a shoebox through to spectrometers weighing many tonnes for use on the world’s largest telescopes.


  • A degree or equivalent in Physics or a related discipline (S)
  • Good understanding of optical design and analysis techniques (S+I)
  • Experience of using commercial ray tracing software (e.g. Zemax OpticStudio) (S)
  • Knowledge of a range of optical alignment and metrology techniques. (S+I)
  • Proven ability to work proactively and collaboratively as part of a team (S+I)
  • Excellent communication skills, able to clearly present technical material in meetings and written reports (S+I)

The UK ATC provides a friendly and flexible environment on a beautiful site combining a historic observatory with modern state-of-the-art facilities.


  • 30 days annual leave + 10.5 public and privilege days + Christmas shut down
  • An excellent defined-benefit pension scheme
  • Flexible working options that support a good work-life balance.
  • Opportunities for professional development courses, both through STFC and support of other training that will help your career development.
  • The UK ATC is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce.

We are invested in creating an environment that is welcoming and supportive of all, to help us achieve the highest possible standards in our work and organisation together. In this regard, we encourage applications from under-represented groups.

We ask some of the biggest questions in the universe, to answer some of the biggest challenges in the world. Together, our scientists, technologists, engineers and busines support team explore the unknown across every field you could think of. And they turn what they find into work that changes the world around us. 

What could you achieve with the world-leading facilities and experts of one of Europe's largest research organisations by your side? Join us and discover what's possible.

About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

The STFC is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation where curiosity, blue-skies thinking meets practical, application-led science and engineering. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we’re trusted to support, enable and undertake ground-breaking projects in an outstanding diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving progressive advances in science, engineering, computing and technology. Our research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale. 

For more information about STFC please visit https://stfc.ukri.org/ 

You can also visit our careers site https://www.stfccareers.co.uk/ 

About UK Research Innovation (UKRI) 

UKRI is an organisation that brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Together, we build an independent organisation with a strong voice and vision ensuring the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

Supporting some of the world’s most exciting and challenging research projects, we develop and operate some of the most remarkable scientific facilities in the world. We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge through fundamental research and delivering benefits for UK society and the economy through world-class research, skills and business-led innovation. 

More information can be found at www.ukri.org.  

How we support EDI in the workforce 

At UKRI, we believe that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to thrive and succeed in an environment that enables them to do so. We also value diversity of thought and experience within inclusive groups, organisations and the wider community. For further information, please visit ‘How we support EDI in the workforce’

Disability Confident Employer

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy/ies. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation.  

How to apply 

Online applications only preferred for this role. Please submit a CV and covering letter which clearly outlines how you fulfil the criteria specified along with your motivation for UKRI and the role. Ensure that the job reference number is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Note that failure to address the above criteria or submit an application without a covering letter may result in the application not being considered. Assessment will only be based upon the content of your submitted covering letter and CV and not the ‘experience’ section of the application. 

UKRI seeks to ensure it creates and maintains a system of openness, fairness and inclusion – a collaborative, trusted environment, which is attractive to and accessible to everyone who is interested in developing their career with us. 


STFC imageAt the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), research is driven by practical applications and a curiosity to create a world-leading hub of scientific and engineering excellence. Our science and facilities enable researchers to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe. Success typically requires long-term strategic investment, international collaboration on a global scale and the capability to push the limits of technology and engineering. To remain internationally competitive in our areas of science and to keep our facilities at the leading edge, we have to develop bespoke technology that cannot be reliably sourced on the open market, for example in detectors and instrumentation, accelerators, specialist engineering, optics and e-infrastructure. These technologies are often also applied to address broader societal and industrial challenges and we actively promote their translation and commercialization.

Why work for us
When you join STFC, you become a key part of one of Europe’s largest research organizations. We are trusted to support, enable, and undertake cutting-edge projects in an amazing diversity of fields that you could be a part of. With access to our world-class facilities, people like you are helping us to drive ground-breaking advances in science, engineering, computing and technology.

  • The Particle Physics Department (PPD) is one of the largest particle physics groups in the UK. We design, construct and operate some of the most sensitive scientific instruments in the world, collaborating with partners in academia, industry and international laboratories such as CERN. We currently work with the ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, DUNE, Hyper-K, T2K, MICE, Lux-Zeplin, DEAP-3600, CERN RD50, Electron Ion Collider and AION collaborations.
  • The National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) is a £93m UKRI investment over five years based at the Harwell Campus. This is a strategic element within the overall £1bn, 10-year investment into quantum technologies made by the UK since 2014.

Our benefits

  • 30 days annual leave plus 10.5 public and privilege days.
  • Flexible or hybrid working may be available dependent on role.
  • Defined benefit pension scheme (employer contribution – currently up to 26%).
  • Sport and social groups across campus with access to an on-site gym.

For more information on all of our employee benefits, visit www.stfccareers.co.uk/why-join/rewards-and-benefits.

Who we are looking for
The UK has a world-class research and innovation system. Our expertise spans all fields of knowledge, from the discovery of penicillin and monoclonal antibodies, to the jet engine and the World Wide Web. Therefore it is vital for us to have the best people at all levels throughout UKRI. We want to continue to attract a mix of talented professionals, scientists and engineers.


Number of employees
STFC has 2594 staff members across the UK and UKRI has approx. 8000

Main areas of research
Our work encompasses everything from the physical, biological and social
sciences, to innovation, engineering, medicine, the environment, as well as arts and the humanities

Positions recently recruited for
Electronic engineers, data scientists, research associates CMS/DUNE, research associate on electron ion collider (EiC), ion trap physicists

Desired degree disciplines/class
A STEM degree

How to apply
Apply online at www.careersportal.co.uk/UKRI-careers/jobs/search/256393 

Closing date
All year round

Quantum physics and computing vacancies: E-mail amy.corpe@ukri.org
Particle physics vacancies: E-mail corinna.kilpatrick@ukri.org

Find Us
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
OX11 0QX
United Kingdom

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