Graduate working at STFC

Graduate Space Systems Thermal Engineer

Interview Date: 24/25 January 2017 or 31 January/01 February 2017

STFC’s award winning graduate scheme offers structured training, a real job with real responsibilities from day one and a direct route to professional accreditation. It will allow you to use your degree in a dynamic, creative and collaborative culture.

RAL Space, based at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), carries out an exciting range of world-class space research and technology development. We work closely with organisations like ESA and NASA and have significant involvement in over 200 space missions and are at the forefront of UK space research.

The Thermal Engineering Group within RAL Space is responsible for the design, development and testing of spacecraft scientific payloads, ground-based space instruments and calibration equipment.

Our day-to-day work ranges from studies for future missions through to the design and testing of high-profile instruments, such as the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the NASA James Webb Space Telescope observatory. The thermal challenge for MIRI is to cool its detectors to a chilly 6 K (-267 °C)! At the other extreme, we are designing the SPICE instrument for ESA’s Solar Orbiter – this must survive and work in a very hot orbit close to the surface of the Sun.

The main duty of the successful applicant will be to use sound mechanical engineering principles to develop thermal control systems. This may include everything from initial concept designs (e.g. calculating heating and cooling requirements or defining radiator areas), through in-depth design and specification, to hardware assembly. As a key part of this work, you will be required to perform computer based analysis (using the ‘ESATAN-TMS’ software) and hand calculations to predict and verify the thermal performance of the instruments and as tools to optimise their thermal control systems.

You will be expected to contribute to thermal testing of space instruments. This can include designing and commissioning the test configuration, preparing test procedures, managing the day to day test activities and producing test reports.

Applicants will be expected to work closely with other engineering disciplines and groups, both at RAL and at other world leading national/international organisations. Some travel in the UK and abroad is likely. Effective presentation of technical information to both expert and non-expert audiences will be required. The position requires the engineer to produce well-written documents such as test reports, specifications, and procedures.

It is expected that you will be enrolled on the IMechE Monitored Professional Development Scheme (MPDS), with the aim of achieving Chartered Engineer status.  You will be given technical and non-technical training appropriate to your previous experience, the requirements of the work and of the MPDS.

We are seeking a high-calibre engineering graduate with strong analytical skills and a genuine enthusiasm for space engineering projects. Applicants are expected to have studied heat transfer and have a practical knowledge of other engineering disciplines. Ideally they will also have some understanding of spacecraft thermal control analysis, techniques and hardware. Preparing tests and fitting hardware to space instruments mean that ‘hands-on’ practical abilities are desirable.

A good working knowledge of common PC office applications is required. Some experience of computer programming is desirable because these techniques are used to construct thermal models. Experience in mechanical design and CAD would also be advantageous. Strong communication skills and teamwork are essential to the demands of the post.

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