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Research Associate, Environmental Instrument Engineer

UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Full time (37 hours per week)

Based in UKCEH Edinburgh, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0QB

Fixed term for 3 years

Closing date for applications is Thursday 13th January 2021

Interviews to be held on Thursday 4th February 2021

About Us

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is an independent, not-for-profit research institute carrying out excellent environmental science across water, land and air.  At UKCEH there are various career paths open to first-class scientists and support staff.  We have around 500 scientists and students supported by experts in the fields of IT, commercialisation, finance, communications and HR based across four sites (Wallingford, Bangor, Edinburgh and Lancaster).  Our world class research is delivered via state-of-the-art laboratories, controlled environment facilities and unique monitoring sites across many different habitat types.  Our students and employees gain from working in a stimulating environment incorporating multidisciplinary research that is enriched through our international collaborations with many universities and institutes.

For further information, please visit the UKCEH Website.

Job purpose

A three year training programme to develop and support building of bespoke measurement systems for environmental sampling including engineering drawing, electronics design and field-deployed units.

The engineer will join the UKCEH Edinburgh Field team which includes maintaining the Auchencorth Moss Air Quality Supersite and overseas field work.

Main Responsibilities/  Activities

The role will support the workshop-based development, production and maintenance of bespoke scientific instruments, the installation of new long-term and temporary field measurement sites in the UK and overseas, technical support for the routine operation of UKCEH long-term environmental observations.  

The successful candidate will work in a scientifically diverse team delivering on many projects. They will be expected to support projects by having strong technical skills including advanced electronics, CAD design and/or electrical engineering.

Some main responsibilities of the post will include:

  • Co-development and construction of air sampling systems in collaboration with atmospheric scientists. This would include development of electronic circuits and construction of bespoke equipment, to a high professional standard
  • CAD-based design of component parts and prototyping
  • Development of programs for instrument control and data acquisition
  • Routine operation, maintenance and repair of a wide range of scientific instruments in lab and field
  • Assistance in the planning, preparation, set-up and take-down of long-term and temporary field site installations in the UK and overseas.
  • Maintenance of field sensor database and associated QA/QC documentation

Over the 3 years you will gain skills in:

  • Instrument development
  • Environmental application of instrumentation
  • Technical skills in construction of equipment
  • Practical experience in field deployment of instrumentation.
  • Cross discipline instrument development
  • Research infrastructure operations
  • Innovation development for atmospheric sampling
  • Overseas logistical experience of research campaigns
  • Instrument maintenance and deployment (UK/overseas)

Selection Criteria

Knowledge & Qualifications

  • HND in instrumentation or electronics engineering (or professional equivalent experience. Please list relevant qualifications and courses in CV) 
  • Knowledge of CAD design processes and software 
  • Knowledge of programming techniques for data acquisition and control (such as, e.g., LabVIEW, logger programming) 
  • Knowledge of currently used data processing software programmes 
  • Understanding of quality control / quality assurance methods 

Experience/Proven abilities related to the position

Technical experience post qualification 

  • Professional experience in working with measurement instrumentation, ideally within or in collaboration with scientific organisations 
  • Proven record of instrument or module development, construction and/or engineering 
  • Demonstrable experience in computer-based data acquisition and instrument control 
  • Ability to develop electronic circuits 
  • Ability to engineer and/or maintain and repair a wide range of instrumentation/analysers 


  • Excellent communication skills for planning and conducting joint work programmes 
  • Good time management and ability to juggle multiple sometimes conflicting demands 
  • Able to talk communicate scientific work undertaken to non-specialists 
  • Confidence to make active contributions to work planning and design 

Core Behaviours & Values

  • You will demonstrate a commitment to promote and adhere to CEH values of Excellence, Integrity and Team work.

Other Requirements -  DBS, Driving licence, Overseas travel etc

  • Full driving licence essential; trailer licence desirable 
  • Aptitude and physical ability for working at height (training will be provided) 
  • Willingness and physical ability for at times strenuous field work in adverse weather conditions 
  • Willingness to work on detachment in the UK and overseas, including in developing countries (up to 4 weeks at a time, not exceeding 8 weeks / year) 
  • Diligent approach to the health and safety of themselves and others 

Desirable skills 

  • Using 3D printing prototyping techniques 
  • PCB prototyping and assembly  
  • Using instrumentation for meteorological and air quality measurements 
  • Knowledge of LabVIEW 
  • Programming of Shiny Apps in R 

What we offer

To find out the benefits of working with UKCEH, please follow the link  below for a summary.  

About the Research Associate Programme

The initial appointment for Research Associates will normally be for a three-year term, however they are able to apply internally for permanent vacancies at any time. Subject to the Research Associate's performance and long term skills needs within their Science Area, appointments may be reviewed and considered for open ended positions. There is an expectation that RA will be appointed at the bottom of the salary scale and will automatically progress to the next pay point at the anniversary of their appointment.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, click the link below. As well as a CV, please provide a covering letter detailing why you may be suitable for the role.

Long term flexibility available for these posts.

UKCEH is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from people with disabilities and those from ethnic minorities. We have a guaranteed interview scheme for applicants with disabilities. UKCEH is an Investors in People organisation.

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Salary: £25,150 to £26,500 Band 7 (depending on skills and knowledge)
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 18th December 2020
Closes: 28th January 2021
Job Ref: JR220
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