SALT Mechatronics Engineer (Sutherland) at National Research Foundation

  • Contract Intermediate EE position

  • Sutherland (Northen Cape), Western Cape

  • Market Related salary

  • Job 2110676 | Ref 2582

  • Posted 08 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 Mechatronics Engineer (SME)as described below:

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

Key Responsibilities will include:

The SME 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:

  • Routine maintenance, modifications and upgrades of the telescope instruments, plant and equipment.
  • Prepare SALT instruments, plant and equipment in time for night-time operations
  • Interact with the astronomy staff during the transfer of the telescope before night-time operations commence
  • Form part of teams developing modifications to and new mechatronic sub-systems and instrumentation per specifications and compliant with standards and procedures
  • Form part of teams doing acceptance testing of such sub-systems and instruments as part of its commissioning
  • Compile Standard Operating Procedures
  • Create and file documents within the current configuration control system
  • Perform standby duties

Minimum requirements:

  • B. Eng (Mechatronics), [URL Removed] (Electronics), [URL Removed] (Mechanical)
  • Three years' experience in mechatronic sub-system development and/or experience in the maintenance and modifications of mechatronic systems
  • Two years of software development for mechatronic systems
  • Knowledge of electronics and low voltage electrical systems and/or knowledge of factory machinery
  • Experience with MS 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 valid driver's license.
  • Applicants should not be physically able to work at heights and access platforms using ladders and not colour blind

Desirable Requirements:

  • Knowledge of networked systems and experience in both Windows and Linux operating systems
  • Experience in the LabVIEW programming language and structured software development methodologies will be a distinct advantage
  • Experience with control systems will be a distinct advantage
  • Experience with AutoCAD or similar CAD packages
  • Good experience in fault-finding, instrumentation design and repair, electro-mechanical device integration, analogue and digital circuit integration
  • Experience in an astronomy operations environment will be an advantage

The SME 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 strategic engineering initiatives which are required to sustain the business
  • strong oral and written communication skills
  • apply theoretical, problem-solving and lateral thinking in the design of new electrical/electronic systems
  • communicate (verbal and/or written) in terms of work sheets, reports and on-the job instructions
  • communicate sound electrical/electronic engineering insights and solutions
  • design/construct and draw on mathematical modelling and computer skills
  • interface with other engineering disciplines to meet business and/or project management objectives
  • technical computing


  • applying electrical/electronic engineering to resolve problems/exploit opportunities
  • diagnosing electrical/electronic problems in workshop or simulated conditions
  • applying appropriate electrical/electronic techniques in workshop or simulated conditions
  • electrical/electronic engineering and allied projects
  • planning electrical/electronic work assignments in workshop or simulated conditions


  • creative, lateral thinking and problem-solving approaches

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 [URL Removed] Research Foundation

Employer & Job Benefits

  • Pension and Group LIfe

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