Lorenzo Zago

chemin de Mureta 2, CH-2072 St.-Blaise, Switzerland

Born on December 14, 1949, in Basel, Switzerland

Dual nationality: Swiss and Italian

Experience Summary:
Experience in inter- and pluridisciplinary engineering covering in particular the fields of mechatronics, structures, thermal analysis, opto-mechanical devices, environmental impact problems, engineering computer applications, measurements and tests.

Main directions of project work:

  • Management and coordination of pluridisciplinary projects involving a mix of technologies and applied sciences: mechatronics, computer programming, motion control, fine mechanics, optics, atmospheric phenomena, thermal control, motion.
  • Design and realization of high-precision opto-mechatronics systems, integrating precision mechanics, electronics and software
  • Scientific and technical software applications
  • Mathematical modeling and simulation of processes and physical phenomena, "end-to-end" models of complex systems


  • Degree (Laurea) in Aeronautical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Italy, 1973
  • PhD (Docteur ès Sciences Techniques), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland, 1995
    Title: The effect of the local atmospheric environment on the astronomical observations


  • English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish.

Computer Literacy

  • Hand-on experience on almost all computer systems used for scientific and technical applications since the 70's up to latest Windows and Unix/Linux systems
  • Programming currently in C, C++, Html, Java, previously in Fortran, Basic, Pascal, Modula-2, GUI programming in Java (Swing), Visual Basic, Tcl/Tk
  • Real time control programming (TI-MSP430, PMAC)
  • Application software development in numerous domains: aeronautics, robotics, modeling of atmospheric phenomena, thermal and structural analysis, material science, geotechnical models, mechanism kinematics, optics, closed loop control, systems dynamics
  • "End-to-end" modeling of complex systems in Matlab/Simulink
  • FEM, CAD and ECAD experience on various systems
  • Project management tools
  • Web tools for project integration and communication

Professional History:

  • Professor, optics and metrology, University of Applied Sciences of Western Swizerland, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland (2007- )
  • Project Manager and Systems Engineer, Centre Suisse d'Electronique et Microtechnique, Neuchâtel, Switzerland (1995-2007): systems engineering, mechatronics design and integration, modeling and simulation of complex multi-disciplinary systems for space and astronomical technology projects.
  • PhD work at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland. Part-time consultant (1993-1994).
  • Senior Project Engineer at ESO, European Southern Observatory, Munich, Germany (1984-1993): in charge of all environmental studies and design work for the telescope enclosures and civil engineering for the Very Large Telescope project (see below). In depth experience in the interdisciplinary system design of astronomical observatories and related functional, structural, thermal, wind and seeing problems.
  • Senior Scientist, Atlas Copco Research Center, Switzerland (1981-84). Mathematical models in impact phenomena, tunnelling operation and rock mechanics.
  • Group Leader, "Technical-Scientific Computer Programming", PILATUS Aircraft Ltd, Switzerland (1974-1981): spacecraft engineering, aerodynamics, aircraft performance estimation, structural and thermal analysis, full scale tests and measurements.

Key Projects:

  • Hexapod mechanisms for astronomical telescopes: VLTI ATS, VISTA
  • Tip-tilt and chopping mechanism for the SOFIA airborne astronomical 2.5-m telescope
  • Secondary mirror mechanism for the GRANTECAN 10.8-m astronomical telescope
  • End-effector design for the EUROBOT (ESA) space robot
  • Modeling and test of active vibration reduction systems
  • The enclosures of the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), made of four 8-meter astronomical telescopes
  • Mathematical modeling of various rock mechanics and geotechnical problems
  • Design and construction of a 15-meter inflatable and retractable dome
  • ARIANE space launcher: shroud thermal design and various full scale tests: separation tests in the vacuum chamber, static load tests, modal survey and acoustic tests

Author of more then 30 technical/scientific articles and conference papers, mainly relating to mechatronics, modeling of wind and thermal turbulence, seeing effects, measurements and tests, design of telescope systems and buildings,

List of publications

Online publications

Listed among "main contributors" of The Design and Construction of Large Optical Telescopes,
edited by P. Bely, Springer 2003, ISBN 0-387-95512-7