Data Processing Software Engineer (10199)

At the SKAO we are coordinating a global effort to deliver one of the largest science facilities on the planet. The SKAO telescopes will be next-generation instruments that will help to answer key questions in astrophysics, drive technological innovation and support human capital development. 

More than a dozen partner countries and over a thousand scientists and engineers around the world are already on board, making the SKA project an international collaboration like no other, and one of the most ambitious science and engineering endeavours of the 21st century.

Headquartered in the UK, with telescope sites in Australia and South Africa, the SKAO will be one observatory operating two telescopes, an endeavour spanning three continents. Multinational by design, in early 2021 the SKAO became an intergovernmental organisation, one of only a select handful of science infrastructures to do so worldwide.

Our Global HQ is located near the buzzing city of Manchester at the historic Jodrell Bank Observatory, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Cheshire countryside. It is home to a rapidly expanding international team of more than a hundred, working in a highly collaborative and inclusive way, in coordination with SKAO teams in Australia and South Africa as part of a global astronomy and engineering community.

Being part of Team SKA means contributing to something extraordinary: a uniquely exciting project to advance human knowledge that will last for decades. In return, we offer a diverse multicultural working environment, 30 days annual leave plus public holidays, a generous pension scheme, regular social events, a family-friendly environment and much more. Come and join us!

Data Processing Software Engineer

An amazing opportunity for an experienced and open-minded Data Processing Software Engineer to join an international, multicultural team and help lay the groundwork for the next-generation of radio observatory.

Job Location
UK (Head Office)
Area / Department
Software Data Management and IT
Contract Type
Competitive salary with generous pension, private healthcare and leave benefits
Closing Date
Ref No

The Role

The Data Processing Software Engineer will help lay the groundwork for the next generation of radio astronomy processing by focusing on building high-throughput distributed data processing pipelines, whilst maintaining modifiability through clean separation of processing functions and distribution.

Reporting to the SKAO Lead Software Architect and the Data Processing Architect, the Data Processing Software Engineer will be part of the SKAO Computing and Software team and will work with other agile software engineering teams to build highly scalable processing software, and with other developers at SKA development sites around the world (especially SKAO and SKA precursors).

The Data Processing Software Engineer will work on the design, prototype, implementation and integration of systems that bring state-of-the-art algorithms to real-world scientific processing pipelines. Together we aim to look past the current SKA project phase, and raise the bar of radio astronomy processing software to the benefit of future SKA extensions, SKA regional centres, precursor telescopes, as well as the entire radio astronomy community.

The ideal candidate would use rigorous software engineering practices and ensure the team is equipped to deal with the many known and unknown challenges facing this next-generation observatory.

This role will be based at the SKAO Headquarters at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK, and flexibility around working hours will be accommodated in agreement with the Line Manager and where operationally viable.

Please note that interviews for this position will be conducted in mid-June 2022.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

The main functions of this role will be to:

  • Work with the SKA software teams to build and maintain libraries of base algorithms for radio astronomy.
  • Build complex distributed pipelines with well-understood scientific and computational performance characteristics using a variety of execution frameworks (such as Dask or MPI).
  • Occasionally travel internationally to SKAO sites (typically for up to one week, 2-4 times per year).

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience with distributed data-intensive processing and algorithm development, ideally both from a design and application perspective.
  • Expertise in hybrid software development in Python and C/C++ programming languages.
  • Ability to work constructively with agile teams around the world towards a shared vision for SKA processing.
  • A flexible team player who is adaptable to change.
  • Ability and willingness to travel nationally and internationally as required and when possible in the context of any international travel restrictions.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience with profiling and optimisation techniques, especially how to build high performance pipelines overlapping I/O and processing.
  • Experience with physical data modeling, both for efficient in-memory and network data exchange as well as storage (e.g. Apache Arrow, protobuf, HDF5 or equivalent).
  • Understanding of signal processing algorithms, such as Fourier transformations, gridding and (de)convolution methods.
  • Knowledge of radio astronomy data processing pipelines and their scaling properties would be advantageous.
  • Ability to rapidly learn about new techniques and technologies and how they can be integrated, especially in the context of execution frameworks for processing distribution.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion Statement

SKA Observatory recognises that our diversity is a strength. We aim to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong, and diverse perspectives and ideas thrive. As such, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are at the core of SKA Observatory’s agenda.

Our aim is to recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, nationality or background.

Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Observatory 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.

SKA Observatory welcome all candidates, especially those from member countries.

The “How to Apply” information contained within the SKA Observatory recruitment portal provides more detail regarding our application and selection approach.