Foundation research

SKA Mid – Senior Network Engineer at the NRF National Research Foundation

Job Summary:
The SKA-Mid Principal Network Engineer will lead the SKA-Mid Telescope Network Team. The position works alongside the SKAO Network Architect, IT Infrastructure Manager, other subject matter experts, project managers and systems engineers, to ensure that the SKA-Mid telescope networks are fit for purpose, providing the quality needed for a system that will last, and be continuously developed, for decades. The role will initially report to the IT and Software Manager for SKAO South Africa. The system will be based on designs submitted by global design consortia, but it is expected that there will be continued evolution as systems are delivered and the commercial commercial market evolves during the construction of the telescope. Due to the locations involved in the SKA project, particularly Australia and the UK, this role will require an ability and willingness to work outside normal hours. This will also require occasional domestic travel to the Karoo site near Carnarvon and may require occasional international travel.

Main responsibilities:

  • Work with stakeholders to continuously refine network requirements for SKA telescopes to ensure they meet system requirements appropriately and cost effectively
  • Support ongoing network design activities required for provisioning
  • Develop technical content of network provisioning packages once designs have been agreed
  • Assist in the deployment and support of telescope arrays
  • Participate in security audits and risk assessments undertaken by specialists inside and outside the organization
  • Be an integral part of an international networking team
  • Provide updates and reports as required on the status of the SKA network installation in South Africa
  • Travel, as required, to national and international meetings to represent SKAO and SKA-Mid IT and Software in South Africa in particular
  • Communicate openly, effectively and respectfully with all staff, customers and suppliers in the interest of good business practices, collaboration and improving the reputation of SKAO and SARAO
  • Adhere to the spirit and practice of SKAO and SARAO values ​​as well as the code of conduct, health, safety and environment procedures and policies, diversity initiatives and zero harm goals
  • Undertake any other reasonable duties as directed

Minimum qualification:

  • Baccalaureate / Advanced diploma / CNC 7

Minimum experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology or Electrical Engineering or equivalent qualifications


  • 10 years of experience in the architecture and design of large network systems with a demonstrable understanding of new and emerging networking and security technologies
  • Demonstrated experience with data center networking technologies
  • Proven experience installing, optimizing and maintaining network and security devices and services, and ability to ensure compliance with SKAO security policies and applicable laws and regulations
  • A demonstrable understanding of Lean principles, including the importance of customer focus and minimizing waste in business processes
  • Experience in a leadership position or evidence of potential to hold a leadership position, promote diversity, and develop an inclusive and high-performing culture


  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Cooperates with others to achieve organizational goals and may share team resources to do so
  • Collaborates with other teams as well as industry colleagues
  • Influencing and communication: identifies critical stakeholders and influences them via an influential third party, for example via an established network, to gain support for sometimes controversial proposals/ideas
  • Resource Management/Leadership: Provides leadership that fosters an environment that encourages new ideas and provides support for the development of emerging skills
  • Builds trust by demonstrating consistency, understanding, integrity and patience
  • Plans, seeks, allocates and monitors resources to achieve results
  • Judgment and problem solving: anticipates and manages problems in ambiguous situations
  • Develops and selects an appropriate action plan and foresees contingencies
  • Evaluates, interprets and integrates complex sets of information and draws logical conclusions, synthesizes propositions and defends options with reasoned arguments
  • Independence: Evaluates the risk and opportunity of identified strategies, options and actions
  • Overcomes problems and setbacks in achieving goals
  • Consistently includes consideration of the future impact of value added on the bottom line when determining the optimal and efficient use of resources
  • Adaptability: Demonstrates flexibility in thinking and adapts and manages the increasing pace of organizational change by adjusting strategies, goals and priorities

Additional notes:
Desirable: Knowledge and understanding of: high performance computing environments, software defined networking systems, zero trust networking principles, long distance networking [URL Removed] Apple and Google-based security services, IT devices and management systems, system information and event management (SIEM) systems and Syslog tools, telemetry. Ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, including gathering and distilling information and adapting it appropriately to the target [URL Removed] and experience in IT service management disciplines and frameworks such as ITIL and change [URL Removed] in the sourcing, management and delivery of network contracts in a complex high value environment [URL Removed] Values ​​The SKA-Mid Environment Manager will demonstrate the values ​​of SARAO and SKAO and actively work to instill these behaviors in all SKA-Mid staff in South Africa. SKAO’s values ​​are:Diversity and inclusionExcellenceCollaborationCreativity and innovationSustainabilitySARAO’s values ​​are:Passion for excellenceWorld-class servicePeople-centeredRespectIntegrity and ethicsResponsibility SARAO and SKAO value and respect difference and are committed to building an inclusive culture by creating an environment where you can balance a career with your commitments and interests outside of work. We believe you will do your best at work if you have a job/life [URL Removed] The NRF website provides more details on initiatives and activities
Candidates must submit a full CV by registering and applying online through the NRF Recruitment and Selection Portal.
Applications should be accompanied by a cover letter indicating the candidate’s suitability for the position.
The names and contact details of at least three arbitrators must be provided.

Desired skills:

  • Skills in the field of application of the position
  • Knowledge to be relevant
  • Responsible in the performance of duties

About the employer:

The National Research Foundation (NRF) ( supports and promotes research and human capital development through funding, provision of national research facilities and outreach platforms and programs science to the whole community in all fields of science and technology. , including natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities.
The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Telescope is an international effort by more than a dozen countries to build the world’s largest and most advanced radio telescopes in South Africa and Australia. South Africa and Australia are both co-hosts of the SKA Observatory (SKAO), a UK-based intergovernmental organization responsible for building and operating the SKA telescopes.

The first phase of the SKA will consist of two telescopes:

South Africa will host the Medium Frequency Telescope (SKA-Mid). SKA-Mid will consist of up to 197 dishes distributed along spiral arms extending 150 km in the Karoo, North Cape. The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), a facility of the National Research Foundation, is responsible for managing all radio astronomy initiatives and facilities in South Africa, including the MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the SKA telescope.

Australia will host the SKA Low Frequency Telescope (SKA-Low). SKA-Low will include up to 131,072 antenna arrays along spiral arms spanning 65 km at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRO) in WA.

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