Regional Centre Coordinator

Square Kilometre Array Organisation

Reports To: Head of Science Operations Planning

Organisation Background

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build a multi-purpose radio telescope that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology.  It will be one of a small number of cornerstone observatories around the world that will provide astrophysicists and cosmologists with a transformational view of the Universe. The SKA will be constructed in two distinct phases. Among major science goals for the first phase, SKA1, will be to study the history and role of neutral Hydrogen in the Universe from the dark ages to the present-day, and to employ pulsars as probes of fundamental physics.

SKA Organisation was incorporated as a UK company in December 2011 to coordinate global design activities in the ‘Pre-Construction’ Phase of the project. SKA Organisation leads the SKA system design and oversees the detailed design being undertaken by globally distributed design consortia.  To accomplish this goal SKA Organisation employs highly qualified scientists, specialised engineers, project managers, system engineers and support staff. Design work packages for the major SKA subsystems have been contracted to a small number of work package consortia who are responsible for the management, execution and delivery of the work packages.

Ten governments are now participating in the project, with others engaged in discussions concerning possible membership. SKA Organisation is permanently headquartered in a purpose-built building at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, UK.  Over the next two years, this global headquarters will expand with the construction of an extension to the existing building to accommodate the additional staff needed for the Construction and Operations phases of the project.

Negotiations are currently underway between the governments of SKA member countries with the aim of establishing SKAO as an Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO) governed by a Convention.  It is expected that these negotiations will be concluded in 2016 and the IGO will be set up soon afterwards.  It is envisaged that all staff working at SKA Organisation will then transfer to the new IGO.

General Description

The Role

The first phase of the SKA is due to become fully operational in 2023. The operation of the SKA Observatory is currently being planned and the Big Data challenge that it poses will be addressed by establishing a series of SKA Regional Centres (SRCs) in some of the partner countries. We are seeking an individual to join the Operations team to support the Head of Science Operations Planning in this activity. The SKA Organisation has established the SKA Regional Centre Coordination Group (SRCCG) to undertake the work that will lead to the establishment of these facilities within the partner countries. An individual is sought to coordinate the activities of the SRCCG and be instrumental in developing, in collaboration with interested parties in the SKA partner countries, a data management network based around the concept of the SRCs. We seek an individual that has good organisational, communication and collaborative skills to take on this role.

Key Duties, Accountabilities and Responsibilities: Under the direction of the SKA Head of Science Operations Planning, the post holder will undertake to support the work of the SRC Coordination Group (SRCCG) in the following areas:

  • Developing the requirements for the SRC network as a whole;
  • Developing a minimum set of requirements for individual SRCs;
  • Developing the process for pledging resources;
  • Developing the process for accreditation of SRCs into the network;
  • Developing the Memorandum of Understanding between the SKA Observatory and the SRCs;
  • Monitoring progress in the SKA regions towards securing resources for SRCs;
  • Engaging with the National Research and Education Network partners;
  • Developing a set of data challenges to test and verify the suitability of the network, data management and computational resources of the SRCs; and
  • Keeping the Chair of the SRCCG appraised of any new or recent developments in the fields of high performance computing and distributed computing networks.

Mandatory Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge

  • University degree in Physics or Engineering, another closely related and relevant field, or equivalent expertise.
  • Experience, or knowledge of, hardware and software technologies in domains such as high performance computing, big data analytics, cloud computing or industrial monitoring and control systems
  • Effective oral and written communication skills in English, and the ability to influence people in widely differing parts of a complex organisation.
  • Ability to work effectively with engineers and scientists from a variety of cultures.
  • Willingness to travel, nationally and internationally, and work outside normal business hours, including evenings and weekends.

Desirable Qualifications, Experience and Knowledge:

  • Experience and knowledge of data analysis software and techniques in radio astronomy.
  • Experience working in scientific computing and software projects.
  • Familiarity with radio astronomy or a closely-related field.
  • Experience of working within a High Performance Computing environment would be an advantage.

For more information on the SKA project visit SKA Organisation offers a competitive salary, a generous company pension scheme, a relocation allowance (subject to qualifying criteria) and a flexible benefits package. The successful applicant’s workplace will be SKA Organisation’s headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK

How to apply: Please send a CV and covering letter to, quoting reference RCC/01 and stating where you saw the job advertised. 

Applications should include a summary of your experience, including evidence of your suitability for the role, details of your current remuneration and the names of at least three professional references. 

Please note: your covering letter must contain, as a minimum, details of how you meet the mandatory criteria.  Cover letters that do not address this will not be considered. 

Equal Opportunities Statement:  SKA Organisation is committed to being an equal opportunities employer. Our aim to is recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or nationality.

At all stages of the recruitment process and beyond, we strive to treat applicants and employees with a high standard of care, honesty and politeness.

Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Organisation welcomes and encourages female applicants.

Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided. If you need equipment or adjustments to enable you to complete your application and/or attend an interview, then please let us know.