Head of Engineering Ops - Gemini South

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Archive Date: 
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Engineering
Institution Classification/Type: 
La Serena
Job Announcement Text: 

Gemini Observatory has an opening for a Head of Engineering Operations, based in La Serena, Chile. Gemini Observatory operates two world-class, optical-infrared, 8m telescopes in Hawaii and in Chile. The Observatory is managed as a partnership between the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Korea and Chile. Gemini is the leading large Observatory for time-domain astronomy, and strives to be the best observatory in the world for the execution of flexible, innovative, and efficient science programs.

The Head of Engineering Operations oversees the Gemini South Engineering Operations group and all its engineering activities. Ensures that it is responsive to scientific and operational priorities established by the Observatory and coordinated between the Operations and Development groups, and that this support is consistent with the overall scientific mission and budget of the Observatory.

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Manages all Gemini South engineers and the facility management staff; this includes performance assessment, staff training and the development of engineering talent.
  2. Oversees near- and long-term telescope facilities, instrument maintenance and upgrades.
  3. Supports the Development group activities by in particular providing engineering resources to Development activities enabling instruments to meet technical specifications and be delivered within budget and on schedule.
  4. Takes responsibility for safety aspects in the work place.
  5. Conducts on-going evaluations of engineering operations activities and monitors Key Performance Indicators.
  6. Develops appropriate instrument maintenance and improvement plans.
  7. Plans to provide supporting infrastructure and resources to future and current operational instruments and for visiting instruments as needed.
  8. Plans and schedules strategic projects; develops strategic management goals.
  9. Maintains excellent relations with internal and external customers, and reports to them.
  10. Financial management responsibility: controls the Gemini South Operations Engineering budget and authorizes purchases.

Job Specifications

  1. Must be fluent in the English language; must be prepared to learn Spanish.
  2. Must be willing to live in La Serena, Chile.
  3. Requires high degree of professionalism and discretion.
  4. Must possess the skills to build and maintain a high-performing team.
  5. Requires the ability to delegate and to give employees a chance to reach their full potential. Must be able to handle conflict in such a way as to maintain productive relationships.
  6. Must have the ability to maintain a view of the “big picture” and communicate it to colleagues at all levels. Requires flexibility, adaptability and unflappable demeanor.
  7. Ability to reconcile competing demands and ensure that important issues are handled along with emergency or urgent issues. Requires excellent judgment and insight.
  8. Frequent international travel is required.
  • Strategic Management: Work with the Associate Directors and the engineering staff to ensure that, at the highest levels the Observatory continues to realize the goal of a single, cohesive, competent, focused, productive Observatory-wide Operations team of the highest quality. Requires a desire and the know-how to drive the effort to make the telescopes the best possible in ground-based astronomy. Responsible for management and planning of strategic, future engineering functions.
  • Operations Management: Specifically, must provide line management of all engineers in Gemini South Engineering Operations, and for the Observatory Site Team.
  • Budgetary Management: Manages Gemini South Operations Engineering budget. Education Required: Master’s Degree in Engineering or related discipline required; in exceptional cases, a BS in Engineering with equivalent, relevant experience may substitute for Master’s Degree.

Education Required

Master’s Degree in Engineering or related discipline required; in exceptional cases, a BS in Engineering with equivalent, relevant experience may substitute for Master’s Degree.

Experience Required

Previous experience managing large projects and facilities; background in astronomical observatories, aerospace or similar area would be helpful; experience managing large software and or adaptive optics programs would be a plus. Previous experience working in astronomical facility would be highly desirable. Previous experience managing large budgets for large projects is required. Proven track record in establishing programs of excellence, innovation and inspiration. Previous experience in managing or overseeing large technical projects, and managing a multidisciplinary engineering team, is desirable. A high awareness of matters of health and safety in the workplace is essential.

Skills Required

Requires change management skills; demonstrated ability to work effectively in a team in an operational environment; proven track record in establishing programs of excellence, innovation and inspiration in a diverse environment; excellent communication skills; ability to write clearly-worded reports at a level required by Gemini Governance and to develop/deliver clear and inspiring presentations. Must possess financial and accounting knowledge as well as experience with budgetary management software. Consensus-building skills; ability to think on feet; requires flexibility and adaptability to work in a dynamic environment. Gemini South: Bilingual Spanish-English preferred.


The Gemini South telescope is located at the summit of Cerro Pachón, at an altitude of about 2900m. The Base Facility is located in La Serena, which is a popular seaside town with a population of about 200,000, has a temperate climate, and a substantial international astronomical community. For full details and to apply online, please visit http://www.gemini.edu/

Included Benefits: 

AURA provides a generous compensation package including health coverage, paid time off and retirement benefits

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
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