Professor David Kopec on Computer Science, App Development, and What He’s Learned From His Students

A Q&A With Professor David Kopec

Like many professors at Champlain, David Kopec shares his industry expertise with students every day. In classes such as Android Development and iOS Development, the Information Technology & Sciences professor helps students hone their skills and realize the impact computer science has on our everyday lives. In this interview, we asked Professor Kopec to share a bit about his upcoming book and experience teaching Computer Science & Innovation at Champlain.

Why did you choose to teach?

My teaching journey began with writing my first programming book in 2013. That led to adjunct teaching while pursuing my mobile app development consulting practice in New York. Through these experiences, I discovered a passion for teaching and communicating ideas to an audience. At the time that I applied, Champlain was looking for someone with both mobile development experience and teaching experience. It was a perfect fit.

What advice do you have for students thinking about studying Computer Science in college?

Computer Science is a big field, and it can sometimes feel daunting. It’s important to remember that every journey is composed of many small steps. Sometimes students can get frustrated about how much knowledge they need to acquire before they can build the app of their dreams. So, I think when you’re in your first semester in Introduction to Programming, you should keep your eyes on the prize and not give up if you have a passion for the discipline.

Professor David Kopec holds up Champlain College's crest.
Professor David Kopec has been teaching in the ITS Division at Champlain College for five years.

What excites you most about the Computer Science field? Why is it a good career choice?

There’s no field that software doesn’t touch. Whether it’s advances in business, science, or the arts, they’re being powered by great software. Some students who pursue the Computer Science & Innovation major are passionate about computer science itself. Others are passionate about the software they can build. Whether computer science is the ultimate goal, or it’s just a means to an end, no field gives the individual practitioner more leverage.

There’s no field that software doesn’t touch. Whether it’s advances in business, science, or the arts, they’re being powered by great software.

David Kopec, co-Program Director of Computer Science & Innovation

What do you think makes Champlain such a powerful experience for students?

At Champlain, we find the right balance between traditional academics and an industry focus. Most of our faculty have industry experience and we constantly adjust our curriculum to meet the needs of the job market. At the same time, we have a small-college feel with plenty of personal attention for students. It’s the best of both worlds.

How is teaching different at Champlain?

We are willing to make changes that deliver value to our students. Every decision we make takes into consideration how it will position our students for academic and career success. This means that we move quickly in adjusting our curriculum, but we are also careful to not leave any student behind.

What have you learned from your students?

I can’t narrow it down to a paragraph, because I learn so much from our students every day. We are lucky at Champlain to have many students who are very dedicated to their professional goals. They are attuned to our industry and often bring an interesting technological development or different angle into the classroom. We are more than just faculty and students. We are a learning community.

Are there any projects that you are currently involved with that you would like to talk about?

My fourth book, Classic Computer Science Problems in Java, was just published. Readers can find out more about it and the other books in the Classic Computer Science Problems series at classicproblems.com. The books in the series are code-centric tutorials on computer science problem-solving techniques presented through the lens of problems typically taught in an undergraduate CS curriculum. My podcast, Kopec Explains Software (kopec.live), recently had another Champlain faculty member, Professor Duane Dunston, on to discuss cybersecurity. It’s a podcast where we communicate software technical topics to a general audience.

You just published a book and post regularly on your blog and podcast. Why is communicating about the industry important to you?

I love software and I am passionate about it. Writing books and doing the podcasts is fun for me. I think pursuits need to be a balance between what we enjoy and what we are good at. I enjoy writing and podcasting, and I think I am reasonable at them. Therefore, working on them comes naturally to me.

Want to learn more about the Computer Science & Innovation major? Click here to learn more! 

More People
Social Impact Scholars Speak Out About COVID-19
In the Run-up to the Oscars, Filmmaking Professor Julia Swift Hits the Red Carpet
Student-Run Nonprofit Aims to Bolster Computer Literacy Half a World Away