Instrument Development Scientist

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Didcot, UK
£31931 - £44166 per annum
Closing date
11 Jun 2023

Job Details

Instrument Development Scientist

RAL Space: Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Harwell, Oxfordshire
Salary: Band D £31,931 - £34,709 to Band E £39,748 - £44,166 (dependent on skills & experience).
Contract Type: Fixed-Term (2 Years)
Hours: Full-Time (We understand the importance of work-life balance, and are happy to discuss the possibility of flexible working with applicants)

Come and do the kind of science that made you want to become a scientist. Explore the unknown and get to grips with the biggest challenges in Big Science. And, alongside world class engineers and technologists, use everything you've learnt to find real answers that shape society and improve lives.

Put simply, discover the kind of impact you can make when you work with some of the best facilities and brightest scientists in the world.

The Disruptive Space Technology Centre (DSTC) works across all technical areas relevant to the work of RAL Space and our collaborators. Recent projects have included optical communications, atmospheric analysis and imaging systems developments. Our work requires a cross-disciplinary, agile approach to solving complex problems and provides an opportunity to be involved in design and development work from concept through to prototype and on to supporting implementation within the space engineering divisions.

As an Instrument Development Scientist in the RAL Space Disruptive Technology group, with specific skills and interests in Earth Observing Instrumentation, you will be involved in the development of spacecraft payload instruments for commercial and academic end users in Earth Observation and similar domains. You will be required to interface between users (scientists and industrialists) and engineering teams in identifying and planning instrumentation solutions. You will also be required to develop proof of concept experiments to quickly demonstrate the feasibility and capability of new concepts and designs, then support larger engineering teams to realise higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL) solutions.

This role provides exceptional opportunities to experience a wide range of cutting-edge technology developments but requires a flexible and motivated individual who can support multiple projects with a wide range of partners inside a small, dedicated team.

Key responsibilities:

  • Developing requirements and conceptual solutions with partners and supporting engineers;
  • Design, modelling and analysis of Earth Observing instruments;
  • Support of manufacture, assembly and testing, for example, the development of an elegant breadboard and testing in a representative environment;
  • Specification and procurement of components and sub-systems;
  • Assembly, alignment and testing of laboratory systems and prototypes;
  • Documentation of systems and processes.

Person Specification:

(Please note the below criteria will be assessed at Shortlisting (S), Interview stage (I) or both (S&I) as indicated)

  • Undergraduate degree in a numerate science or engineering discipline (S);
  • PhD or equivalent R&D experience in a numerate science or engineering discipline (S);
  • Evidence of instrument design/development work (including prototyping) (S&I);
  • Demonstrated ability to develop own proof of concept experiments from concept through implementation (S&I);
  • Evidence of EO (Earth Observation) instrument design/development work (S&I);
  • Understanding of processing of EO data and the fundamentals of EO application development (S&I);
  • An interest in the multi-disciplinary development of novel instrument concept development and willingness to deeply engage with other engineering disciplines (I);
  • Excellent verbal communications skills including the ability to explain technical concepts to a wide variety of people and audiences (I);
  • Aptitude for multiplexed working across several projects and topics (I);
  • Ability to understand and interpret physical and engineering concepts from first principles (S&I).

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 business-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 is possible.

STFC values their employees by offering a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance. This includes up to 30 days' annual leave, 10.5 public and privilege holidays, flexible working hours, a workplace nursery, exceptional average salary pension scheme, social and sporting activities and societies and a subsidised restaurant.

Applicants who are unable to apply online should contact us by telephone on 07710 115815.

The closing date for applications is 11th June 2023.


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

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 

Closing date
All year round

Quantum physics and computing vacancies: E-mail
Particle physics vacancies: E-mail

Find Us
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
OX11 0QX

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