Graduating student spotlight on doctoral candidate, Deniz Besiktepe

Deniz Besiktepe, headshotThe Department of Construction Management is pleased to recognize Deniz Besiktepe, graduating from the CSU Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. program with a focus in Construction Engineering and Management (CEM). The CEM focus is a collaborative effort between the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Management.

Besiktepe enrolled in this Ph.D. program in 2016. She is from Istanbul, Turkey, where she has a supportive family, and a “professor” sister, who encouraged her to pursue further academic studies in her passion for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC).

Experience before continuing education

Having graduated from architecture school in 2003, and influenced by her internships on various construction sites, Besiktepe pursued her career in the construction industry. That industry experience was mostly with general contractor companies focusing on various areas such as design coordination, site supervision, procurement, and estimating. In the last five years of working in the industry, Besiktepe worked in retail facility management (FM) gaining experience along with operations and maintenance practices, leading her to pursue a FM focus in her post-graduate studies.

Besiktepe realized that after thirteen years in the industry, and with a deeper understanding of its practices, she wanted to pursue a Ph.D., but there were no specialized doctoral programs in Turkey that fit her goals. Looking farther afield, she was impressed with the civil engineering and CM program at CSU, which has strong collaborations with industry. The opportunity to be a graduate teaching assistant in the CM department while pursuing her doctoral studies perfectly aligned with her long-term goal of staying in academia and AEC education.

Pursuing a Ph.D.

“CSU and the collaborative Civil Engineering and CEM program have wonderful opportunities to support graduate students in research, teaching, and networking,” said Besiktepe. “Especially with the continuous support of my advisors, Dr. Mehmet E. Ozbek and Dr. Rebecca A. Atadero, and Graduate Program Coordinator, Dr. Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez, I had the opportunity to attend several conferences and events that helped me follow further advancements in the area. With the long-term goal of being a teacher and researcher in AEC, CSU provided me a strong background. I believe that the outstanding reputation and nationwide recognition of the CSU Civil Engineering and CM departments always highlight my career,” she added.

Deniz Besiktepe with CSU President Joyce McConnell
CSU President Joyce McConnell with Besiktepe

Ozbek said of Besiktepe, “Throughout her time here at CSU, Deniz epitomized how a doctoral student should be, in my opinion. She set a great example for her peers by being a determined, intellectually curious, hard-working, and engaged student as well as a teaching and research assistant. I am sure she will continue making us proud as she advances in her academic career.”

Along with her teaching experience as a GTA, Besiktepe also participated in a research project conducted with the CSU CM program and the Colorado Department of Transportation, which allowed her to join the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Operations and Maintenance Committee, and participate in TRB annual meetings.

She served in the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) CSU Chapter as a treasurer, which helped with networking. As part of her degree requirements, she completed 30 undergraduate-level civil engineering credits in addition to the graduate-level courses and research work. This experience allowed her to interact with engineering students; in addition to learning civil engineering concepts and improving her technical knowledge, she was also able to observe the course curriculum and student engagement in engineering education.

Future in teaching

Long-term plans include teaching for Besiktepe. She joined the University of Wisconsin-Stout construction program as an assistant professor in January 2021. After four years of teaching and research experience in her program, she is excited to continue her academic career in teaching and research of AEC. Being passionate about the FM area and focus, she started making valuable contributions to the area with publications and volunteer work.

Asked for her advice to other graduate students, Besiktepe replied, “Perseverance and hard work always pay off. After spending a long time in the industry, it was challenging for me to come back to school, but the challenges I’ve experienced helped me improve my personality and profession. There is always room for improvement, and learning is a life-long experience!”

She added, “It was amazing to have the continuous support of students, faculty, and administrative members in the CM department, a big family of ‘Ram Built Nation!’ And I’ll always be a proud member of this family!”

The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.