2013 Faculty Awards: Q&A with Robert Borden

May 5, 2013
By Bill Krueger

The Alumni Association is honoring 21 NC State professors with the 2013 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.

Today we’re visiting with Robert Borden, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. Borden is one of three professors being recognized for Outstanding Extension and Outreach.

robertbordenWhat prompted you to become a professor? I really enjoy learning new things, and sharing this with others. It turns out that is exactly what a researcher and teacher does, so it was a great fit for me.

What are the keys to being a successful teacher/professor? Learning to communicate effectively is critical to being a successful teacher and researcher.  To do this, you must first identify the critical concepts, and then focus on these ideas. When working with students, I push them to figure out the main conclusions BEFORE they start writing a report. When they do this, the final product is much more concise and easy to understand. The same goes for my own work. When preparing for a new course, I have to first decide what my students really need to know about a topic. Once I understand that, it is much easier to effectively communicate these ideas to students.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? Meeting with former students who come back to visit after being away from NCSU awhile. It is truly wonderful to visit with them, hear how things are going, and know you had a little part in their success. I have been teaching long enough now, that some of my first students are starting to show up with their own kids, checking out colleges and planning for the future. What a wonderful experience. Red & White for Life!!!

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