Brian Atkins’ love of building helped him help others through Newcastle’s Science and Engineering Challenge

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Brian Atkins, Newcastle chair – National Challenge Council of PROUD TO GIVE BACK: Brian Atkins, of Lambton, has been serving the Newcastle community for decades with Rotary and in his own work. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.
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Brian Atkins sees his contribution to the community as just something he does, nothing too special.

Herecently receivedaPremier’s Volunteer Recognition Program award fromNewcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp for his contributionto the youth education.

“I joined Rotary as a Rotarian in 1974,” hesaid.

“It was about the year 2000 [when] there was a program about some science experiments which weregoing to take place at Newcatle Museum. There was some simple little things that the Museum had organised and I could see a future in it.”

Given the opportunity to develop theUniversity of Newcastle’s Science and Engineering Challenge, Mr Atkins helped grow the event intoan annual andnationwide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program.

His workwiththe project expanded toaNational Challenge Council of councillor and now as the Newcastle Regional Chair.

He watched the challenge spread its interestsacross , to Singaporeand to Manchester, England.

But Newcastle remains the “epicentre” of the program.

The Newcastle challenge for 2018has 40 nominated high schools and five waiting on a reserve list.

“I’m over the moon with it,” Mr Atkins said. “I’ve got a really good committee working with me; Rotarians, community members, teachers and university staff.

“People put their heart and soul into it, we can’t do it without them.

“Newcastle is a very special area in science and engineering.”

Mr Atkins, 72, had a long career inthe building and construction industry before he retired, which he says spurred his interest into working with thechallenge.

“I just had that love of engineering,” he said.“If I hadn’t of gone into building, I would have gone straight into science.”

A member of theRotary ClubOfWaratah since he joined in the‘70s, Mr Atkins has worked on a variety of Rotary projects and served as a district governor.

He says a health incident a few years ago gave him a new lease on life and fueled his enthusiasm to keep contributing to the community.

“It never stopped the passion I had for working withthis,” he said.

“People always say to me: ‘Brian, has the challenge got a used-by date?’ and I say not the way it’s going.

“But it depends on raising the sponsorship we need.”

Mr Atkinssays he’s proud of his achievements and the influence of the programtoinspirekids into STEM subjects and careers.

“If I can put something back into the community, than I feel I’ve done OK.”

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