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The Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence

The Louis and Dorina Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence

The 2020 Honoree is Dr. Tonya Nilsson (Senior Lecturer, Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering)


In scores of nomination letters for Dr. Nilsson, current students and alumni describe unforgettable learning experiences, calling her “Mentor,” “gold star standard” “challenging,” “inventive” “queen of real-world applications,” “embodiment of the three C’s” and “an engineer for the whole person.” They described classes where “everyone was valued, and everyone was challenged.” They recalled her advising, and the ways she challenged them in class, at conferences, in senior design, and in service learning experiences in Rwanda. They described how she reached out--in particular--to support students of color, first generation students, and women in engineering. Some said she challenged and supported them in ways they never experienced before. Others said her passion and commitment to engineering changed their lives. And still others said all of that and more (and apologized for the length of their letters!). Account after account of extraordinary teaching exemplified the work the Brutocao Award honors. One department colleague summed up: “Tonya is the most talented, dedicated and generous instructor I have ever known. We are fortunate at SCU to have her as part of our community of teaching scholars.” Indeed.