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

Chris Willers

Chris is a Stationary Engineer for the Steinhart Aquarium.


Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise. As a member of the Stationary Engineering Department, I  participate in the operation and maintenance of  the Academy’s building  as well as its  exhibits.  I also am involved in exhibit system design and fabrication.

What got you interested in becoming an Engineer?
The opportunity to participate in the opening of the new facility and the challenge of maintaining both the building’s systems and the animals’ habitats.   Also, my wife had worked at the California Academy of Sciences for over 15 years as the Institution’s Librarian and so the Academy  has always been a “part of my family”.

What do you like most and least about your job?  My responsibilities are very varied and allow me to work with some great and dedicated coworkers from a number of different disciplines.   My day is never boring, it can include things as varied as  helping move some of our larger animals to rebuilding a pump.

What training did you receive?
Participating in a 4 year stationary engineering program as well as  and the experience and training I received  serving the public as a biologist over a 20 year period within the zoo  world.

What influenced your job choice and when?  The opportunity of working in a state of the art facility the serves both the local community through its programming as well as the world community through its research.

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? We have 2 goldfish and 2 cats.

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field.
Read, volunteer, and go to school!

More about Chris


Chris’ Suggested Reading:

Technical manuals

Inspirational books

More about Engineers


What is a Stationary Engineer?

The Steinhart Aquarium Engineers are part of Local 39 which is an International Union of Operating Engineers.  The normal duties of a Stationary Engineer are to operate and maintain boilers, HVAC, hot water generators, fire and life safety systems, refrigeration machinery and its associated auxiliary equipment.  In addition to these responsibilities, our engineers also maintain life support systems for the aquarium.  Since the shift towards buildings like ours relying on digital controls, the engineers work with a Building Management System.  Engineers of today need to be more computer literate to work with these complex and integrated systems.