Craig Atkins – Building Environmental Systems and Building Systems Engineering Technician Alumni
Employed by a leading energy processing and power generation company, Veresen Inc., Craig Atkins is a Maintenance Planner, Supervisor, and backup Operator of two large gas powered turbines at a 400 Mega Watt Power Station based out of the York Energy Centre in Newmarket, ON. Working in his most rewarding technical and engineering level position, Craig attributes his success to his drive, his willingness to accept challenges and embrace opportunity, and to Seneca College.
“If you’re thinking of a career change or going back to school, do it if you can,” says Craig.
At 17, Craig was learning from the school of “doing”, practicing carpentry, general framing and drywall in garages and basements to prove his ability on route to becoming a self-employed general contractor. He learned that clean, quality work and referrals were the key to success. His projects expanded to homes, including renovations, fencing, decking and additions, and business was more than sustainable – it was good. But, eventually, there was no work. Craig’s hardest lesson came when he found himself at the mercy of a declining construction industry. He reached the point in his life where further education was necessary in order for him to move forward... and Seneca had just the program.
“Since graduating from the Building Systems Engineering Technician (BTS) program at Seneca in 2011, my certifications have sat at the top of my resume, opening perpetual doors,” says Craig. “Even at an older age, if you have the right work ethic, the will and the tenacity to complement a new set of skills, incredible things can happen.”
Craig’s certificates include BES Operator Class I and II (honours) plus his BOMI System Maintenance Technician (SMT) designation. Craig reunited with Seneca in 2015 to earn his Building Environmental Systems Facility Manager certificate through the College’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Training.
Craig refers to Seneca as “the best life improvement and career advancement opportunity I have ever made”.
Craig’s first job out of Seneca was with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport as Physical Plant Operations Coordinator for approximately 20 buildings. He became seasoned working with HVAC systems and providing utility readings for water, gas and fire systems, as well as know-how from working with different trades, codes and regulations and government policies. Craig held this role for over four years allowing his career to trend in the right direction before making a strategic move to Honeywell Building Solutions. As Systems Specialist and Supervisor for a new 350,000 square foot hospital in the Simcoe region, Craig gained extensive experience in the project commissioning and completion processes, receiving a Honeywell Silver Bravo Award for his contributions.
Craig became a marketable and coveted asset in his industry with credible and desirable career skills. His age, which he previously viewed as a hindering element to his career aspirations, turned him into a welcomed commodity in the eyes of employers. “During interview processes, noticing younger candidates in every waiting room, I began to use the phrase: ‘if you decide to hire me, I’ll give you the best years of my career’,” says Craig. His new-found confidence in his abilities led him to where he is today with Veresen Inc. in the ‘best situation of his career’.
While working as a contractor, Craig was hired for one of his more high-profile construction jobs to supervise the build of a mini-putt golf course around the base of the CN Tower. Around the same time, he developed associations with representatives from the paint company, Color Your World, renovating some of the company’s stores. Craig was on the board of directors for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, Ontario Chapter (a position he held for four years) and hot air ballooning was a hobby. He saw an opportunity to turn his passion into not only a business opportunity but a prospect to support Children’s Wish. Craig conceptualized Color Your World Balloon Full of Wishes. The national charitable initiative saw a nine-story high paint can balloon fly coast-to-coast throughout Canada, raising awareness and offering rides to children with life threatening illnesses.
“Throughout my career and life experiences, the Balloon Full of Wishes program remains as my most cherished and rewarding accomplishment,” says Craig. He also gave several years as a festival and committee member and volunteer to b.r.a.i.n.child - Brain Tumor Research Assistance and Information Network (a Sick Kids Hospital Foundation) – receiving awards of appreciation for both of his volunteer undertakings.
Craig’s philanthropic ventures have been as life changing to him personally as his Seneca education has been to him professionally. In all, a lifetime of memories and experiences have made Craig the hard-working and accomplished, yet humble person he is today.