Recruiting for UKRI and UK SBS

Graduate Test Engineer – NSTF Thermal Vacuum - STFC

Early Careers
20000013 Requisition #

Science and Technology Facilities Council

The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space department carries out an exciting range of world class space research and technology development. We’ve had significant involvement in over 200 space missions and operate at the very forefront of UK Space Research. Find out more about the STFC RAL Space Development and Test facility here:

The UK is has invested £99m in the National Satellite Test Facility, in construction at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell. This facility will provide a world class set of co-located facilities for the assembly, integration and testing of space payloads and satellites. The facility will have the capability to conduct Vibration, Acoustic, Thermal, Pyroshock, Electromagnetic Compatability (EMC) and antennae testing for payloads up to 7 tonnes within clean room conditions. This new investment adds to the existing facilities operated by RAL Space department, part of Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The NSTF is currently in the early construction phase, anticipated to finish construction in 2021, and moving into facility commissioning in 2021/22. The operation of both the new and existing environmental test facilities are the responsibility of the Environmental Test Division, in order to support the transition to operations of the new facilities, the division needs to expand significantly. Thermal Vacuum Testing Group is responsible for performing thermal vacuum tests in specific chambers in different volumes (having a range of 1 meter - 7 meter).

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities

There will be a range of test activities conducted in our existing and future facilities and the role of Graduate will be to work under the direction and supervision of test engineers for test activities. As the training develops, more autonomy will be given and less direct supervision, this may mean acting as the responsible test operator on smaller, less complex testing, with on-call, or accessible supervision. There would be opportunities when competence is assessed as suitable for working as a test operator.

The duties and responsibilities are as follows:

  • Initial responsibilities in engaging and following procedures and practices.
  • Initial responsibilities in engaging with technical equipment, understanding the operation and maintenance required, and may include:-
  • Installation and configuration of thermometry e.g. thermocouples/PRT’s and associated measurement systems.
  • Setup, maintenance and operation of vacuum systems e.g. turbo pumps and cryo pumps.
  • Set up and operation of cryogenic systems e.g. liquid nitrogen or cold heads.
  • Assisting with test system upgrades and fault finding e.g. control system design and build.
  • Setup and reconfiguration of facility DAQ systems including graphical interfaces.
  • Initial responsibility for preparing and conducting the tests, under the supervision of a test operator
  • Support the calibration of the test equipment.
  • Support the test by way of an operator, possibly including night and weekend working.
  • Creating mathematical models/tools for engineering problems.
  • Developing and validation of virtual test methods by numerical modelling of test chambers and environments.
  • Creating and modifying 3D models of test systems and test set-ups
  • Installation and removal of satellites and subsystems into and from the test facilities.

We recruit on a rolling basis therefore we recommend you to apply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Applications will be reviewed and considered on an ongoing basis until our roles are filled.

In order to apply for this role you must have:

  • Obtained your first degree bachelors or Masters, (not doctorate) in a relevant subject in either 2019, 2020 or be due to receive it in 2021
  • Expected or have achieved a 2:1 or above
  • The right to live and work in the UK

Essential Criteria:   

  • Good written and verbal communication skills 
  • Aptitude for working and communicating effectively within a small team 
  • Dedication, self-motivation, positive attitude, fulfilling commitments 
  • Methodical approach to work and problem solving 

Desirable Criteria:

  • Strong interest or knowledge in space thermal testing technology 
  • Knowledge and experience about data acquisition systems and thermometry 
  • Knowledge and experience about vacuum technology, vacuum pumps and gauges 
  • Ability to use thermal simulation tools/software (MSc Patran, ESATAN, ANSYS Fluent etc.) 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation where curiosity-driven, blue-skies thinking meets practical, application-led science and engineering. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.

One of Europe’s largest research organisations, we’re trusted to support, enable and undertake cutting-edge projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, engineering, computing and technology. Our research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale.

For more information about STFC, please visit

How to Apply

Online applications only for this role. Please submit your CV and a covering letter which clearly outlines how you fulfil the criteria specified along with your motivation for STFC and the role you’re applying for. Ensure that the job reference number is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Note that failure to address the above criteria or submit your application without a covering letter may result in your application not being considered.

About UKRI

UK Research and Innovation brings together nine organisations to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at

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