Colin McLean Adam

By Helen WolffApril 1st, 2011

Colin Adam was an Institute Director and an Acting Chief Executive Officer of CSIRO (2000-2001).

A biography of Colin Adam is in preparation.

Early life

Dr Colin Adam was born in Melbourne on 6 October 1943. His father was an electrician working in the Royal Australian Air Force as a Technical Instructor. After the war, the family moved back to Queensland where Colin’s father worked as a technical teacher at The Scots College and the Post-Master General’s Department. Colin’s paternal grandfather was a marine engineer who tried in vain to interest Colin in a career in the merchant navy. Colin’s father had to move around South East Queensland to gain promotion in the PMG so Colin went to a number of schools. He recalls the influence of Miss Kennedy at Coorparoo State School who encouraged him to read widely. His longest period at any one school was at Camp Hill State High School where he graduated as the top male student.

Tertiary education and early career

Dr Adam has a Bachelor of Metallurgical Engineering (Hons) degree and PhD in Metallurgy, both from the University of Queensland.

From 1982 to 1985 he was Manager of the Materials Laboratory for Allied Corporation in New Jersey, and went on to become Director of the Metals and Ceramics Laboratory; Corporate Technology; for Allied.

Time at CSIRO

He returned to Australia in 1987 to take up the position of Chief of the CSIRO Division of Materials Science and Technology. Dr Adam was from 1998 to 1996 Director of the CSIRO Institute of Industrial Technologies.

Honours and awards


Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)
Fellow, Engineers Australia