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Chief Engineer - Division Leader

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Didcot, Oxfordshire
£75,136 to £82,649 per annum
Closing date
27 Apr 2024

Job Details

Chief Engineer - Division Leader

Science and Technology Facilities Council

Salary: £75,136 to £82,649 per annum (dependent on skills and experience).

Hours: Full time.

Contract Type: Open-ended

Location: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), Harwell, Oxfordshire.


Come and do the kind of engineering that made you want to be an engineer. Stretch your technical skills while building human understanding. Promote sustainability and create new materials. And, alongside world-leading scientists, technicians and technologists, shape projects that improve lives, and daily life, in the UK and far beyond.

Put simply, come and discover the impact you can make when you’re equipped, encouraged and inspired to perform to your very best.

A rare opportunity has opened up to join us in a senior leadership position at the Central Laser Facility (CLF) to lead our Engineering Division.

We are recruiting a leader for the CLF’s Engineering Division. This position is a senior management role in CLF and STFC, with responsibility for all engineering activities conducted in the CLF’s five operational laser facilities and those under construction (not the civil construction). We are currently investing over £200M in building two new large scale facilities, EPAC (2020-2025) and Vulcan 20-20 (2023-2029), and enhancing two others Ultra and Artemis via the HiLUX project (2023-2027).

The Central Laser Facility is one of the world’s leading laser facilities, providing scientists predominately from the UK and Europe with access to an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art large scale laser technology. The CLF’s wide ranging applications include experiments in physics, chemistry, biology, environmental sciences, cultural heritage and the sciences of life and disease. From advanced, compact, tuneable lasers which can pinpoint individual particles to high power laser installations that recreate the conditions inside stars, a vigorous multidisciplinary development programme ensures that our facilities maintain their international competitiveness. Our engineering division is at the heart of delivering this programme and developing the next generation technologies and facilities.

Our host organisation, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations and operates several sites within the UK and at sites abroad. RAL is home to about 2,000 staff that work with a community of more than 10,000 scientists and engineers annually, mainly from the research sector.

About the Role

The Chief Engineer reports to the CLF Director. As a Division Leader within the CLF you will be a defining mind in the operation and development of the CLF’s current and new research facilities, bringing your expertise and experience to work closely with the CLF’s senior leadership in helping the department in realising its ambitions. 

The remit of the Engineering Division is wide covering mechanical, electrical, electronic, software and control disciplines. The involves everything from the maintenance of small and large scale chilled water systems, to bespoke manufacture, to the design of unique ultra-high pressure gas systems with flammable gases, to cryogenic and ultra-high vacuum capabilities, high voltage systems, advanced control architectures, motion and interlock control etc . All of which are critical for the successful delivery of the science programme that the CLF supports for the UK and international User Community. To support this endeavour the Division has sole ownership and operation of its brand new Engineering and Technology Centre (ETC) on the RAL campus, which houses a range of state of the art equipment and workshops. 

As the Chief Engineer you will provide leadership, mentoring and support to a team of 65 engineers and technicians across a range of disciplines (mechanical, electrical, controls and software) at all competencies, from apprentices to senior engineers. You will ensure that your teams are appropriately trained, effective and motivated, maintaining the “can-do” attitude that already exists. Working with the internal and external scientists and the other Division Leaders, an important aspect of the role is to effectively prioritise resources to maximise delivery and outcomes.

The main responsibilities of the role are:

  • oversee the safe operation and enhancement of the CLF’s engineering equipment across the five facilities and to support the operational programme working closely with the senior management team
  • manage the Division financial and staff resources to ensure that operational needs are met
  • lead design, development and delivery of engineering resources to the CLF’s major Projects EPAC, Vulcan 20-20 and HiLUX
  • support the development and planning of new opportunities, contributing to Business cases and proposals as required
  • ensure the CLF complies with all the statutory safety responsibilities associated with its engineering delivery, including PSSR/PED/DSEAR/Legionella/CDM/Asbestos compliance

About You

You are an experienced Chief Engineer with a demonstrable history of successfully leading large multi-disciplinary teams in a highly technical environment. You have a working understanding of a range of engineering areas including, high vacuum systems, pressurised gas systems, design for manufacture and building wide processed water systems. A recognised expert in a relevant engineering field you have a wide network of contacts both in the supply chain and complementary organisations. A champion of collaboration and an excellent problem solver you have a “can do” attitude, able to instil enthusiasm to deliver world leading technology to the teams you lead. 

You are able to demonstrate experience of financial, project and safety management at senior levels. A good negotiator, with excellent oral and written communication skills you are able to represent UKRI, STFC and the CLF to audiences ranging from the general public to senior scientists and decision-makers. 

We ask some of the biggest questions in the universe, to answer some of the biggest challenges in the world. Together, our scientists, technologists, engineers, technicians and business support team explore the unknown across every field you could think of. And they turn what they find into work that changes the world around us. 

What could you achieve with the world-leading facilities and experts of one of Europe's largest research organisations by your side? Join us and discover what's possible.

STFC values their employees by offering a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance including 30 days’ annual leave, 10.5 public and privilege holidays, flexible working hours, exceptional average salary pension scheme, social and sporting activities and societies and a subsidised restaurant. 

Person specification

The below criteria will be assessed at Shortlisting (S), Interview (I) or both (S&I)


  • degree, or equivalent experience, in an engineering discipline (S)
  • demonstrable knowledge of a range of engineering areas relevant to the CLF, including high vacuum systems, pressurised gas systems, design for manufacture, control engineering, software, electronics, high voltage and building wide processed water systems
  • experience of leading and managing a large multidisciplinary engineering team at a senior level (S&I)
  • ability to multi-task and prioritise against a full workload and achieve demanding targets (I) •    knowledge of appropriate safety procedures and experience of safety management in an engineering environment (S&I)
  • good oral and written communication skills (I)
  • an understanding of EDI issues in the research environment (I)


  • a previous senior leadership role in an engineering based and/or scientific facility (S&I)
  • experience of working with industry in a research environment (S&I)
  • hold a recognised professional membership or chartered status in a relevant discipline (S)

Additional Information

You will be required to undertake UK and Overseas travel as required

This role is full time and is not remote. It is based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire.

About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we ask the biggest questions in the universe to find answers that change the world around us. We seek understanding. We’re proud of the impact we make. And we’re committed to helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy. Being part of all this means contributing to work that pushes boundaries and creates possibilities. You’ll work with, and learn from, true experts. Whatever your role, you’ll be free to question, and encouraged to share ideas. And, in a positive and supportive culture, you’ll discover just what a difference you can make when you’re equipped and inspired to excel.

We’re a place where curious minds thrive. Not bound by profit, we explore ideas that others don’t, ask questions that others won’t, and discover answers that others are not equipped to find. And, alongside Mars landings and black holes, we also explore diverse, international projects in everything from science and engineering to computing and technology. Whether it’s at the cutting edge or behind the scenes, our work is intellectually challenging. It’s very often ground-breaking.  And it’s endlessly, irresistibly fascinating.


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science and engineering. STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

At STFC, our engineers provide the technology that allows our world-leading science to make a real difference in areas that really matter: from cancer treatment to airport security, high-tech jobs to hydrogen powered cars, energy generation to accident scene emergency care, our impact is felt in many aspects of daily life. We provide and exploit space and astronomy technology, a world-leading neutron scattering facility, ultra-fast supercomputers, amazing scientific instruments and some of the most powerful lasers in the world. We work with industry and academia throughout the UK, Europe and the world.

STFC can offer you an excellent working environment. Our laboratories are based in beautiful rural locations in Cheshire, Oxfordshire and in Edinburgh, with great amenities and quality of life for you and your family. We are at the centre of burgeoning high-tech campuses buzzing with economic investment and even more promise for the future. Our people enjoy attractive benefits and plenty of opportunity for development. Whether you are beginning or furthering your career, we can offer you excellent opportunities to test out and broaden your skills and experience and to gain real technical and managerial expertise working in dynamic team and project environments.

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