Nicole Dufalla is an instructor in the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University. Learn about why she came to CSU and her teaching philosophy on helping students figure out how to solve problems in a non-judgmental environment.
What brought you to the Department of Construction Management at CSU?
I was living in Fort Collins with my previous job but knew that I saw my career moving to teaching eventually. I’ve always gotten a lot of fulfillment from working with people directly and I love the energy and excitement of a college campus and thriving college town. Despite my degree in civil engineering, I knew construction management would be a better fit for my practical work experience and skill set and when the opportunity came to teach at CM here at CSU, I obviously couldn’t pass it up!
What are your research interests, and how did you get interested in that topic?
My teaching and research interests are in highway and pavement materials. After my first college internship with a DOT, I knew that I was interested in learning more about roadways and construction and especially then after taking upper level courses about concrete materials did I know that I really was interested in the materials side of pavements. Later, I did my graduate work in pavement research and knew I found my niche—there’s a surprisingly large amount of information we still don’t know about concrete behaviors and I really like the satisfaction of completing research for infrastructure groups like state or federal highway organizations.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
I really believe in being available to students and creating a non-judgmental learning environment. It’s also my biggest goal in teaching to provide students with good foundations of figuring out problems—understanding the relationship between parts of the physical world rather than just memorizing equations without really thinking about it. This is an important skill set in construction; we can’t teach students everything but if they leave with an ability to reason through problems well, then they’ll be set!
What’s your favorite thing about campus?
Unfortunately, COVID has changed some of my interactions with campus but I do think the Oval is a truly unique and lovely spot for breaks.