SALT Software Engineer at National Research Foundation

  • Contract Intermediate EE position

  • Sutherland (Northen Cape), Western Cape

  • Market Related salary

  • Job 2108078 | Ref 2574

  • Posted 01 Jun 2017

About the Position


The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Its headquarters are in Cape Town, while its telescopes are at Sutherland in the Northern Cape. Distributed between the two sites, SAAO employs about 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to operate SALT (the Southern African Large Telescope) on behalf of the international SALT Foundation. SAAO is the premier optical/infrared research facility on the African continent, with global research and outreach collaborations, contributing to SET human capital development for South Africa.

We invite applications for the position of SALT Software Engineer (SSE)as described below:

The SSE will be domiciled at the observatory's site at Sutherland where accommodation may be provided.

Key Responsibilities will include:

The SSE supports the SALT Technical Operations team to operate, maintain, fault-find, repair and modify the high technology Astronomical instruments of the telescope, as well as its plant, equipment and related systems, which includes:

  • Fault finding and bug fixes.
  • Routine software maintenance and upgrades of the telescope instruments, plant and equipment software.
  • Interact with the astronomy staff regarding software issues before night-time operations commence
  • Prepare SALT instruments, plant and equipment in time for night-time operations in concert with engineers and technicians
  • Develop new software per specifications and compliant with standards and procedures
  • Acceptance testing of software as part of system commissioning
  • Software configuration control
  • Perform standby duties

Minimum requirements:

  • B.Eng or BSc Degree in Electronics or Computer Science or a related field
  • 5 Years post qualification practical experience in the full software development life cycle for instrumentation and industrial electronic applications.
  • Knowledge of networked systems and experience in both Windows and Linux operating systems
  • Proficient in object orientated programming
  • Knowledge of PLCs and embedded system
  • Experience with Office applications.
  • Applicants will need to be strongly motivated individuals with initiative and problem solving skills
  • Must be able to work effectively within a team and on his/her own with minimal supervision.
  • Must have good skills in oral and written English.
  • Applicant should hold a valid driver's license.
  • Must be comfortable with working at heights and not colour blind

Desirable Requirements:

  • Labview, PLC, RTOS programming, and configuration for SIEMENS, Allen Bradley and National Instrument products
  • Experience with relational databases, MySQL
  • Experience with software control system design for robotic, mechatronic or imaging devices
  • Experience in web-development, Java, Python
  • Understanding of industrial communication protocols
  • Experience with AutoCAD
  • Good experience in fault-finding, instrumentation design and repair, electro-mechanical device integration, analogue and digital circuit integration
  • Experience in an astronomy operations environment and development of software for astronomical instruments will be an advantage

The SSE position will initially be for a period until 31 March 2020, with the possibility of extensions thereafter.

The filling of this position will be in line with the NRF's Employment Equity Policy and Plan

The salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The ideal candidate will have the following competencies:


  • conceptualise and implement changes which are required so that the electrical/electronic engineering function is optimised
  • design/construct and draw on mathematical modelling and computer skills
  • technical computing
  • apply electrical/electronic engineering techniques and practices within a specific electrical/electronic area
  • apply theoretical, problem-solving and lateral thinking in the design of new electrical/electronic systems
  • communicate sound electrical/electronic engineering insights and solutions
  • diagnose electrical/electronic problem
  • strong oral and written communication skills


  • applying electrical/electronic engineering to resolve problems/exploit opportunities
  • working on large-scale projects
  • system engineering environment


  • creative, lateral thinking and problem-solving approaches
  • information technology
  • mathematics and statistics
  • project management principles and techniques
  • time and frequency reference systems

About The Employer

National Research Foundation (NRF) supports and promotes research and human capital development though funding, the provision of National Research Facilities and science outreach platforms and programmes to the broader community in all fields of science and technology, including natural science, engineering, social science and humanities.

Employer & Job Benefits

  • Pension and Group Life

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