• Contract Intermediate EE position

  • Sutherland (Northen Cape), Western Cape

  • Market Related salary

  • Job 2177080 | Ref 2763

  • Posted 08 Jan 2018

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 Mechanical Designer as described below:

The SMD will be domiciled at the observatory's site at Sutherland where accommodation may be provided. The SMD supports the SALT Technical Operations team to maintain and develop various mechanical and electro-mechanical devices.

Key Responsibilities will include:

  • Update CAD models and drawings to reflect the "as-built configuration
  • Create CAD models and drawings of "as-built" plant and equipment where they do not exist
  • Do new designs and drawings on CAD (NX)
  • Do maintenance and support equipment designs and documentation, including standby
  • Do configuration management of all technical documents including but not limited to CAD models, drawings and technical reports
  • Assist the project and technical teams with procurement of manufactured parts
  • Do quality control, acceptance testing and inspection of own designed and other parts
  • Form part of project teams
  • Report on activities.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Mechanical Draughting Diploma with 5 years' experience or a Mechanical Draughting Certificate with 8 years' experience in a high technology product development and maintenance environment. A Diploma in Mechanical or Mechatronics Engineering with 5 years of detail design and draughting experience will also be considered.
  • Solid track record in the design of fine mechanics
  • Successful fine mechanics designs of electro-mechanical and opto-mechanical components, sub-systems and instruments will be a distinct advantage.
  • Knowledge of heat treatment and surface treatment processes, especially those applicable to fine mechanics
  • Metrological skills
  • Driver's licence.

Desirable Requirements

  • Relevant artisan qualification, in addition to the minimum qualifications, will be a distinct advantage.
  • Quality control experience
  • Applicants should not be afraid of working at heights nor be colour blind.
  • Strongly motivated individuals with initiative who can effectively and efficiently work with little supervision on complex mechanical sub-systems.
  • They must be able to work effectively within a team.
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Good written and oral communication in English
  • A keen interest in astronomy will be a recommendation.

The PM 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:


  • diagnose mechanical problem
  • interpret mechanical plans and flow diagrams and other technical sources
  • apply theoretical, problem-solving and lateral thinking in the design of new machines, equipment or mechanical systems
  • communicate, present and work independently and in team environments to convey sound mechanical engineering insights and solutions
  • design/construct and draw on mathematical modelling and computer skills
  • implement changes which are required for the optimisation of the mechanical engineering function
  • participate in mechanical team structures
  • work to appropriate levels of mechanical tolerance in line with specific mechanical area
  • work within a defined mechanical project management area


  • advanced mechanical theory, workshop and/or hand skills practices
  • making persuasive and compelling technical presentations


  • creative problem-solving approaches
  • computing and technical design

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 Group Life Medical Aid

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