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February 27, 2020

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Paulo Fernandes, Professor of Computer Science

  • Ph. D., Institute National Polytechnique de Grenoble, France | Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
  • M.S., Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil | Computer Science
  • B.S. Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil | Computer Science

Prior to Roberts:

I’ve had a long career as a teacher and researcher in South America, Europe and in America. I taught at Pontifical University of Rio Grand do Sul in Brazil for 30 years as a Professor of Computer Science. I was also a visiting professor of Information Technology at the University of South Florida and at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, in the School of Informatics.

Inspired to Teach:

I believe it is important to equip students with the tools to make a positive difference in society as computer scientists and to be an educator who emphasizes technical evolutions with Christian values.

About Me:

I am still new at Roberts, but I am very pleased with the outcome of courses I’ve taught and with the change in perspectives that I’ve seen in students. It’s a real pleasure to teach students who are willing to learn and are motivated to do their best.

My family moved to Rochester from Italy. I am married and the father of three daughters (23, 20, and 8 years old). My wife completed a full chef course while we were in Italy, so I love authentic foods. She is a great chef and her food is delicious!

What brought you to Roberts?

I was looking for a College in an English speaking country and I was inclined to teach at a Christian College because of the ambience. I also liked the idea of going to a place with four seasons – so I selected Roberts and started in September 2018.

When did you start becoming interested in Computer Science?

It started when I entered the college in 1983; and I have to confess that I didn’t know too much about it at first. However, once I was able to relate computer science to science fiction books, movies, and TV shows, I realized that I really liked it a lot.

What are your interests outside of teaching?

I am very interested in books, movies, and TV shows; mostly those related to science fiction and history. I also love to be in contact with the nature and found that I really love NYS parks!

Do you have any advice for students starting their bachelor’s degree?

You can learn more or you can stay with what you know already. The first option allows you to get a better job, to live longer, to help more people and, therefore, be able to better understand the wonderful world God created for us. That said, enjoy College by learning as much as you can and follow the path that God has for you.

What do you like the most about teaching Computer Science?

Computer Science, in my point of view, is the art to program a computer to try to respond to users. It requires a beautiful effort to plan ahead, to attempt to master the future. The privilege to introduce students to such noble art has been my pleasure, semester after semester, for more than thirty years.

Is there a spiritual experience or a story of a student who has been transformed?

Recently at Roberts, I had a student who failed a very important course for his major. This student was sent to the learning center and enrolled again in the course the following semester. I was his instructor the second time, and I noticed that he was actually pretty smart, but he was often focusing on the wrong aspects. I observed, and hopefully contributed to, his change in focus as the semester progressed. He already had all the tools and skills needed to succeed and, in my class, he connected everything to excel and make a huge difference in his learning. It was great to see this and I feel he was transformed through this class experience and was rewarded for his efforts with an 'A'!

What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

A long time ago, when I started teaching, an older colleague told me “do not rot before you ripen.” That helped me to keep an open mind and to be a lifelong learner. Even now, I like to keep myself open to learning new skills, talents and new ways to teach. I believe that, as a teacher, you start to rot (deteriorate or decline in standards) when you stop learning.

What is an interesting fact about you?

I have had the privilege to live in several countries and I have learned different languages. I like to think that this enables me to be more tolerant with different points of view, because each culture has its own values. I strongly believe that continuously learning is always good (for you), because it allows us to better grasp the glory of God’s creation.

What is your favorite verse or quote, and why?

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I am a fan of the book of Ecclesiastes, but chapter three is one of my favorites as it states clearly that we have to always change according to what is needed.

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