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Getting to know ... Carlo Kopp

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29 August 2012

Carlo Kopp
Dr Carlo Kopp

Name: Dr Carlo Kopp
Title: Lecturer (Part-time)
Faculty/Division: Faculty of Information Technology
Dept: Clayton School of IT
Campus: Clayton

How long have you worked at Monash?
I joined Monash 27 years ago, as a Computer Systems Engineer at the Clayton Computer Centre, now e-Solutions.  I departed to work in the private sector, but in 1990 started a part time research Masters degree in Computer Science with Professor Chris Wallace, whom I met in 1985. This led to a PhD completion in 2000,  in just over three years, also with Professor Wallace. I have remained at Monash since then.

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?
Since 1980 I have worked part time as an independent military analyst, an area I remain highly active in, with more than 600 publications. In 2004, I co-founded the Air Power Australia independent military and strategy think tank, where I remain Editor-in-Chief, and lead strategy researcher. During the 1990s I held two industry positions, as a senior consultant performing mostly performance analysis and tuning of large computer systems, and as Chief Engineer, primarily designing high performance SPARC architecture Unix computer hardware for manufacture in Australia.

What do you like best about your role?
Access to some of the best minds, globally, in a range of research areas I am interested in. A professional culture where integrity is valued by your peer group. The freedom to comment publicly on matters of importance to the community, an option mostly denied to private sector and government researchers. The opportunity to positively influence the development and growth of a younger generation.

Why did you choose your current career path?
Intellectual boredom with narrowly defined and focussed private sector jobs, which I found more than often stifled creativity, and limited intellectual growth. Also frustration with a private and government sector organisational culture, which would increasingly penalise organisations and individuals who insisted on maintaining high standards of integrity.

First job?
Electronics Technician, debugging and repairing vacuum tube consumer electronics, later maintaining and commissioning gasline telemetry (SCADA) equipment.

Worst job?
Shotfirer's Assistant. Jackhammering oilfield wellhead cellars, using pneumatic rock drills to make holes for ammonium nitrate charges, in 50° Celsius desert environments, is dangerous, unpleasant and physically challenging work. Quality Assurance Manager implementing ISO9001 was almost as unpleasant, due to persistently conflicting directives.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve?
I have, and always have had, diverse intellectual interests, and this reflected in my numerous research foci, which often straddle multiple traditional research areas.

One recent research theme has been in the study of the bounds, impacts and implications of exponential growth in key technologies such as digital computing. 

I have also studied extensively the effects of externally induced or self induced errors in biological and machine cognitive cycles, from the perspective of Shannon's information theory.

Another ongoing research theme is the computational modelling of radar and datalink propagation in the troposphere, radar systems performance, and radar signature characteristics of  aircraft, as well as the vulnerability of the digital infrastructure to high intensity electromagnetic events.

I also publish very frequently on regional military strategy, and have collaborated closely with Monash Asia Institute in this area since 2005.

What is your favourite place in the world and why?
Australia. It is a free country in which personal integrity and decency are mostly highly valued.

What is your favourite place to eat and why?
I like traditional European and Indian foods, but usually prefer smaller family restaurants, or cooking it myself.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Professor Chris Wallace: “If you cannot understand a problem, reduce it down to the simplest possible instance, and study that”.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know?
Not everybody knows that I flew competition aerobatics during the 1990s, and in 2001 flew supersonic aerobatic manoeuvres over the Bass Strait in an F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jet. Also not well known is that I have done semi-professional photographic work since 1981.