Avila University
AU Spotlight
Submitted February 11, 2009
Avila professor emphasizes the importance of learning

Patrick Kopp,
Computer Science Chair
Member of Avila since 1986

After teaching for 23 years at Avila University, Computer Science Chair Patrick Kopp said he wants his students to understand that learning is a life-long activity. Kopp continues his quest for knowledge through his teaching, research and mission work.

Kopp, who said he never thought of himself as a teacher, now teaches six computer science courses at Avila. Kopp said what he likes most about teaching is the diversity because every semester is different. He also noted that the smaller class size allows all the professors to know their students.

“We, the computer science faculty, are more in control with the student’s experience,” Kopp said. “We know when they are not attending class. We know when they are struggling and we can give them one-on-one help when it is needed.”

That personalization carries across the computer science program. Kopp noted that many other programs offer an internship, but the student is the one who has to find the company and set up the program. In Avila’s computer science program, the faculty finds the placement. In the students’ capstone course, students have the option of letting faculty determine the project or they can choose their own.

"There is more to getting a degree than just passing tests and getting good grades....graduating is not the end of learning, it's just the beginning."
“We have the flexibility to specialize each student’s program,” Kopp said. “Students have many choices among the different career opportunities available in the computer industry.”

Kopp continues his learning through research. Recently, Kopp has been working on the use of robotics with students in his capstone class. His students have worked to build robots using different models.

“I have also been working with a program called Alice,” Kopp said. “This is a graphic program that allows students to create animated scenes while learning the concepts of programming.”

Kopp said that learning is not just found in the academic setting. He has been a member an active member of his church for 17 years, now holding the titles of deacon, youth committee chair, and high school youth sponsor. Through many mission trips, Kopp said he has continued his learning.

“I have been on over 10 mission trips with the youth of my church,” Kopp said. “We have traveled from West Virginia to Washington; from Milwaukee, Wis., to Reynosa, Mexico. Most of our trips are work trips in which we paint, do yard work or repair houses. Several trips have been working with youth, homeless and senior citizens.”

Through his teaching, research and mission work, Kopp continues to be an example on the importance of learning and Kopp continues to emphasize the learning process with his students.

“There is more to getting a degree than just passing tests and getting good grades,” Kopp said. “Graduating is not the end of learning, it’s just the beginning.” AU