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Augustana Mourns the Loss of Professor, Alumnus Killed in Plane Crash

Augustana officials have learned that Dr. Daniel Swets, associate professor and chair of computer science and mathematics, and Kevin Anderson, Augustana class of 1987 and a staff member of the Sioux Falls School District, were among four people killed in a plane crash earlier today near the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.

It is believed Dr. Swets, age 47, was on his way to a robotics meeting in Rapid City. He was currently serving as president of the South Dakota Robotics Association.

“We are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of Dan, our dear friend and colleague; Kevin, an Augustana alumnus; and the other passengers on board. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Robyn, Dan’s wife; his children, Joe, Kira, Megan and Ben; and to the families of the other passengers,” said Rob Oliver, president. “Dan was an incredibly talented scientist and respected teacher who touched the lives of thousands of students during his 16 years at Augustana. He will be deeply missed.”

Augustana is planning a memorial service to celebrate Swets’ life and accomplishments. More details on the memorial service will be made available soon.

Dr. Swets received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1986. He received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., in 1991 and 1996, respectively.

Since 1983, Dr. Swets had been a computer consultant to the small business community. From 1986-1987, he was employed as a software engineer at Rockwell International, Downey, Calif., on the Space Shuttle Orbiter Backup Flight System. From 1987-1992, Dr. Swets was an aerospace software engineer at Smiths Industries, Grand Rapids, working on embedded software for flight systems and ground station software. From 1990-1991, he was an instructor at the Grand Rapids Community College and at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich. He was an Ameritech Fellow at Michigan State University, East Lansing, from 1994-1995, while pursuing his Ph.D. degree.

He served as the associate director for the NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium and was chair of the NASA EPSCoR Steering Committee in South Dakota.

At Augustana, Swets taught the hardware sequence for computer science majors and was responsible for many of the upper-level electives in the department, such as Graphics, Networks, and Parallel Processing. His current research interests included algorithm development for remote sensing, computer vision, content-based image retrieval, computer graphics, virtual reality and robotics.
He also served as a partner at the South Dakota FIRST LEGO League.