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Award remembers Okanagan College student and aids another in following his dream

March 29, 2015 - 12:08 PM

OKANAGAN - A young man’s dream of becoming an aircraft mechanic and pilot ended when his life was cut short by a tragic accident. Now, the award created in his memory is inspiring another student to pursue the lofty goal they shared.

Brad Atkins of Vernon is the recipient of the first annual Tim Harder Memorial Award, a $1,000 bursary created to support students in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) program at Okanagan College.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for this award,” says Atkins. “I can’t even put it into words.

“I feel very privileged, and I want to express my deepest thanks to the Harder family and to let them know just how much this award means to me. It takes an incredible weight off my shoulders to know that I have these funds to put towards living expenses and tuition for the rest of my program.”

During the award presentation at Okanagan College’s Aerospace Campus in Vernon, Tim Harder’s parents, Drs. James and Joyce Harder, reflected on why they chose to establish the award in their son’s memory and their hopes for what it will achieve.

“When Tim died, our family and friends wanted to do something to honour his memory,” explains Joyce Harder.

“We knew that it had been a struggle for Tim to go back to school after all those years, and so we decided to help other students in a similar situation,” says James Harder. “Okanagan College has been extremely helpful in making this happen.”

Harder was 30 years old when he decided to follow his passion and pursue a career in aviation, enrolling in the AME program at Okanagan College’s Aerospace Campus. He hoped one day to also attain his commercial pilot’s license and fly up north during the summer while pursuing his other passion, ski coaching, during the winter.

Sadly, after completing the first year of the program, Harder perished in a tragic motor vehicle accident. His parents established the annual award in his name through the Okanagan College Foundation; the award is intended to assist mature students enrolled in the AME program.

“Tim Harder brought a lot of life and laughter to the AME program and was great at encouraging fellow classmates to keep their goals in perspective,” says Dale Keegstra, Manager, Aerospace Department, Aircraft Maintenance Engineering M-License. “He was always willing to help out in the shop when someone needed an extra hand to get a job done. Tim had a genuine love for mechanics and the aviation industry.”

Atkins, who has completed the first 48 weeks of training for the AME M-License through Okanagan College, will now embark for the final 14 weeks of training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.

Like Harder, Atkins also has a great love for the outdoors and for coaching/teaching outdoor skills. Atkins founded his own business, Backcountry Avalanche Awareness, an avalanche skills training company, four years ago and has continued to operate the business while completing his studies at Okanagan College.

“It’s been a challenge returning to school as a mature student, completing my courses while still running my own business,” says Atkins. “But I’m so excited for the career this will allow me to have, and it’s been very fulfilling to be able to continue helping people through education while also continuing my own education.”

The AME program prepares apprentices to certify an aircraft after maintenance, inspection, repair or modification. Training on both rotary wing aircraft (helicopters) and fixed wing aircraft is provided, and covers a wide range of subjects with emphasis on practical training and job-readiness.

For more information about this and other awards available at Okanagan College, please visit

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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