55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Arnel Bautista

Arnel is the Senior Stationary Engineer for the Steinhart Aquarium.


Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise. Assistant to the Chief Engineer.  Supervises day-to-day activities of Engineers, operating and maintaining a variety of Aquarium Life Support Systems and Building Systems. 

What got you interested in becoming an Engineer?
I've always had an interest in Engineering.  To me, it's fascinating how math, science, and physics are used in real-world applications.  I was a propulsion plant mechanical operator onboard a fast-attack Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine in the U.S. Navy.  I was also qualified as engine room supervisor.  After 6 years, I no longer wanted to be in the military but wanted a career that's similar to what I did... without going out to sea AND without having to deal with nuclear reactors.  When my service was complete, I applied for a job as a Stationary Engineer for the City and County of San Francisco at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

What do you like most and least about your job?  What I like most is: having lots to do, always something new and "different"...
What I like least is: not having enough time to do it all!

What training did you receive?
- Recruit Training Command, Orlando FL
- Nuclear Field 'A' School, Orlando FL
- Navy Nuclear Power School, Orlando FL
- Nuclear Prototype Training Unit, Idaho Falls ID
… and various courses at Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific, Pearl Harbor HI

What influenced your job choice and when?  I remember enjoying my first visit to the California Academy of Sciences during a field trip when I was about 10 years old.  I really liked Steinhart Aquarium, especially the dolphins and seals.  Our 5th grade class was assigned to do a project on an animal of our choice.  Even though the deadline was weeks away, I turned in my report on dolphins the very next day, along with a "shoebox" diorama that copied their exhibit at the Aquarium.  Some 20 years later, when a job opportunity came up, I requested a transfer from SFO to work here. 

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? No real pets, although we refer to our iRobot Roomba (vacuum cleaner) as our "doggie". 

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field. No real advice, just wish the best of luck to you!

More about Arnel


Arnel’s Suggested Reading:

“Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman” by James Gleick, 1993 (Vintage)

“Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship” by Tom Clancy and John Gresham, 1993 (Berkley Books).