The SAAO seeks to appoint a Head of the SALT Software Engineering division who will be responsible for managing and leading a team of software engineers. The team is responsible for developing and maintaining software for a broad base of telescope sub-systems, and provides support for mechanical, electronics, optical and astronomy teams to ensure the telescope performs to specifications. You may be required to travel to the SALT telescope in Sutherland, as well as travel abroad to attend international conferences and visit partner institutions, other telescopes, and suppliers.

Main purpose: Lead a team of Software Engineers.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Lead a team of Software Engineers. This includes performance management, skills development, training, knowledge transfer, tasks management, and project management.
  • Build, maintain and enhance software according to SALT software engineering standards as well as aligning these standards to industry standards and best practices.
  • Engage with stakeholders on requirements and performance of sub-system software.
  • Strategic planning for team efficiency and growth and new / enhanced technologies and implementation.

Key Requirements:


  • PhD(Eng) + 5 years; or MEng/MSc(Eng) + 7 years; or BEng/BSc(Eng) + 9 years, practical experience in the full software development life cycle in a scientific, engineering, instrumentation, or industrial environment.
  • PMP (Project Management Professional) or similar


  • 5 Years management experience including team leading, task management, performance management, skills development and training and budgeting.
  • Experience in project management methodologies and tools.
  • Experience in networked applications development.
  • Experience in NI LabVIEW development.
  • Proficient in MS Windows OS development environment.
  • Proficient in MS Office applications (Word, Excel, Visio, PowerPoint)


  • Leadership and good interpersonal skills
  • Able to learn new skills and adapt when required.
  • Responsible and accountable
  • Good oral and written communication in English
  • Team player with the ability to work independently and without supervision.
  • Available to work outside regular working hours.
  • Available to travel to Sutherland, Northern Cape, when needed.
  • Innovation/quality improvements.
  • Customer/stakeholder service orientated.
  • Able to handle pressure at work.


  • Solid understanding of software version control
  • A good understanding of basic analogue and digital electronics
  • Proven troubleshooting experience

Additional Notes:


  • Experience working in DevOps environments.
  • Scrum Master experience.
  • Experience in software development and integration for PLCs, Embedded controllers, and/ or RTOS
  • Certified LabVIEW Architect (CLA)
  • Exposure to Linux OS
  • Experience with database design and/or queries (preferably MySQL)
  • C++ development
  • PLC Development (Ladder, Step-7)
  • Has a key interest in astronomy.


  • The website [URL Removed] provides more details on the NRF initiatives and activities.


  • Applicants should submit a comprehensive CV by logging to [URL Removed] and apply online. Applications should be accompanied by a letter of motivation indicating the applicants suitability for the position.
  • The names and contact details of at least three referees should be provided.

Closing Date: 31 July 2024

  • The NRF offers a challenging career and competitive remuneration package which is commensurate with qualifications and experience. The NRF is committed to employment equity and redress and the appointment to the position will be made in line with the NRF Employment Equity Plan.
  • The NRF reserves the right not to make an appointment.
  • Correspondence will be sent to short-listed candidates only

Desired Skills:

  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Able to handle pressure

Desired Qualification Level:

  • Doctorate

About The Employer:

The National Research Foundation (NRF) supports and promotes research and human capital development through funding, the provision of National Research Facilities and science outreach platforms and programmes to the broader community in all fields of science and technology, including natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities.

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is the National Facility for Optical and Infrared Astronomy of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Its headquarters are in Cape Town, while its telescopes are at Sutherland in the Northern Cape. Distributed between the two sites, SAAO employs roughly 130 people, many of them scientists and engineers, and is contracted to operate SALT (the Southern African Large Telescope) on behalf of the international SALT Foundation. SAAO is the premier optical/infrared research facility on the African continent, with global research and outreach collaborations, and contributing to human capital development for South Africa.

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