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Hoppe Knows Students' Names and Stories

Pat Hoppe first engaged in technical education for the same reason as many others – he sought skills for a career, stability and a future.


He found that and much, much more – and has since come back to give back to the educational system that made a difference in his life.


Hoppe graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College and embarked on his career in biomedical engineering. He worked for several area hospitals, earned a degree in biomedical engineering and continued to advance.


Hoppe never forgot the impact his technical education had on his life. So, when he saw an advertisement seeking instructors for Gateway Technical College, he knew what he wanted to do.


“Of all my degrees, the one that changed my life the most was my associate degree,” he said. “I saw an opportunity and wanted to give back to the field that had done so much for me.”


Hoppe developed his teaching style from various college instructors he had in the past. He knows the names of every student in his Gateway class – and he knows their stories.


“I want to do what I can to help them be successful,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else but teaching.”


Gateway and its students benefit from Hoppe’s many innovative ways of providing the tools to be successful at the college, career and beyond.


One of the first things he did after joining the Gateway staff was to return to Milwaukee School of Engineering and work with them to create a transfer agreement, which has become a model for other colleges. The program, known as “2 + 2,” aligns courses and competencies between Gateway and MSOE for students to earn an associate and bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology within four years. This transfer program has been so successful, Gateway’s students now transfer into MSOE’s Electrical Engineering program. The new transfer program is a “2 + 2,” with an additional 16 credits that can be taken anytime within the four years.


He helped introduce the Biomedical Engineering track to Gateway’s Electrical Engineering program, providing the skills for this in-demand career field. Gateway’s Biomedical program transfers into Marquette’s Biomedical Engineering program. He helped forge an agreement with area manufacturers to provide for 30 paid internships leading to a job upon graduation. Hoppe has helped many female students fight the stigma of women in engineering, encouraging them to succeed in class and career.


And, finally, Hoppe has contributed financially to help students through a Foundation scholarship. Hoppe and his wife established the Patrick and Rosemary Hoppe scholarship to help Electrical Engineering Technology students pay for their education.


“We have raised the bar for what we expect at the associate level and created an atmosphere that fosters success,” Hoppe explained. “Our students rise to the occasion. Employers are waiting for them to graduate and offer them jobs right away.”


Hoppe's path to becoming a college instructor began the way many of his students' career paths begin. His plans out of high school included working for an area manufacturer – but not going to college.


A few years later, though, the plant abruptly closed, and Hoppe sought a way to find the skills to gain a career and support a family. It was then he first turned to technical education, enrolling in biomedical electronics. Hoppe had always liked taking things apart and had learned some things from his father who was an electrician.


“At MATC I learned that I enjoyed learning and I liked electronics,” Hoppe stated. Hoppe graduated with honors and landed a job at a hospital right away. He wanted to learn more and become a biomedical engineer. Hoppe enrolled at MSOE. Unfortunately, there was no transfer agreement between MATC and MSOE at the time so he had to start over again. It took five years to earn a bachelor’s of science degree while working nights at a Milwaukee hospital.


Next, Hoppe earned a master’s degree in perfusion at MSOE. This new program trained biomedical engineers to work with the heart and lung bypass machines used during heart surgeries. As a working student himself, Hoppe understands what it takes to balance college, family, and a full time job.


“When I needed a career, MATC was there for me and really made a difference in my life. I am trying to do the same for students who come to Gateway.”