European Space Agency (ESA)

Head of the Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division

European Space Agency (ESA)

Job Description


Vacancy in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.


ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.


This post is classified A5 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands





Head of the Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division, Mechanical Department, Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.



Reporting to the Head of the Mechanical Department, the Head of the Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division is responsible for managing the Division and its activities.


If selected for this position, you will be responsible for the technical and strategic management of all areas related to spacecraft and launcher structures, mechanisms, tribology, pyrotechnic devices, materials and Manufacturing processes, including support to failure investigations. 


As Head of the Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division, you will: 
•    ensure a positive and motivating working environment within the Division;
•    establish and maintain good working relationships and technical networks with users, project groups and other organisational bodies within and outside ESA;
•    contribute to the continuous improvement of working procedures and to reflections on the evolution of the Division’s role and activities;
•    support the Section Heads in anticipating and resolving sensitive or difficult situations, liaising with Human Resources as required.


Reporting to the Head of Department and within the technical fields described above, your main tasks and responsibilities will include:

•    providing Technical Support to all ESA projects and development programmes in your areas of competence; 
•    implementing technology development activities in all covered disciplines (and associated harmonisation roadmaps), including spacecraft configuration concepts, spacecraft and launcher structures, application of advanced structural materials, stable structures and related materials, passive and active loads/noise/microvibration attenuation, damage tolerance, deployable structures/booms, re-entry vehicle hot and cold structures, space mechanisms, tribology, actuators and electro motors, miniaturised mechanical and electromechanical devices, pyrotechnic devices, metallic and non-metallic materials for space applications and relevant manufacturing processes;
•    coordinating, preparing, managing and monitoring the implementation of the ESA Advanced Manufacturing Cross-Cutting Initiative while also coordinating, preparing, managing and monitoring the implementation of all subsequent batches of proposed activities within the initiative’s lifespan;
•    defining, managing, maintaining and operating the necessary internal/external computing laboratory facilities in support of the above activities;
•    establishing and implementing standards, Design requirements and guidelines for the development, qualification and procurement of structures, mechanisms and space-grade materials and manufacturing processes to further the overall technical capabilities, efficiency and competitiveness of the European space industry;
•    closely cooperating with Product Assurance Managers (PAMs) and the Product Assurance and Safety Department (TEC-Q), verifying the suitability and qualification status of all materials and associated manufacturing processes for all ESA projects; the Division’s Part Material Process (PMP) experts have a direct reporting line to the PAMs for the provision of relevant project support.


The Head of Division is supported in these activities by Heads of Section, who each manage a team of technical experts.

Technical competencies

Sound knowledge of structural mechanics disciplines Sound knowledge of space mechanisms and tribology Sound knowledge of advanced materials and associated manufacturing processes Capability to define strategic technology roadmaps in the above engineering domains Experience in the preparation of procurement activities for technology development and innovation (Statements of Work, proposal evaluation, etc.) Experience in managing and monitoring industrial activities, participation in reviews Knowledge of related technologies, R&D trends and the industrial landscape

Behavioural competencies

•    Result Orientation
•    Operational Efficiency
•    Fostering Cooperation
•    Relationship Management
•    Continuous Improvement
•    Forward Thinking


A master's degree in a relevant engineering discipline, as well as extensive experience in one or more of the technical domains covered by the Division, is required for this post.

Additional requirements

In addition, candidates should have:
•    proven experience of leading, motivating and developing a team of experts in a project or R&D environment;
•    the ability to provide strategic direction to the individuals and teams within the Division and to relate team objectives to the overall and evolving organisational goals and context;
•    the ability to drive performance and foster cooperation within and across teams throughout the organisation;
•    demonstrated excellent leadership, relationship management and communication skills, both oral and written;
•    a proven track record of representing the Agency’s interests to external interfaces;
•    excellent cognitive, analytical, delegation, planning and organisational skills;
•    the ability to anticipate problems, resolve complex issues and relate situations to their context;
•    the ability to make solution-oriented, pragmatic and timely decisions of a high standard and with a high level of integrity, supporting others (team members, senior management and other stakeholders) in this process.


Previous experience of managing managers and multiple teams is an asset.

Other Information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.

For further information please visit: Professionals, What we offerand FAQ

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required.
Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.


The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests. 


At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities.  Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace.  The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us at


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania,  Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.


According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to internal candidates and secondly to external candidates from under-represented or balanced Member States*.

In accordance with the European Space Agency’s Security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

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