'He Loved What He Did;' Students Remember Dr. Swets

To his students and colleagues, Dr. Daniel Swets was much more than just a teacher – he was a skilled scientist and a talented researcher with a passion for helping young people discover the wonder of science. Students and colleagues shared their memories of Dr. Swets with KELO-TV and KDLT-TV:

Swets' Students Fondly Remember Their Professor

Augustana Computer Science Professor Daniel Swets was among those who lost their lives in the plane crash Friday evening.

And the outpouring of support is coming in from more than just those on campus.

Swets was a major component of the Augustana computer science program and also enjoyed teaching younger children. His extensive work with the LEGO league in building robots helped middle school students learn about science. Some of his former college students, who've moved to other parts of the country, still remember him for his passion.

Read more about Dr. Swets' work with the LEGO League.

“You could tell by the way he taught that he really loved what he did and he was very excited about what he did and how he taught,” former student Nicole Winkler said.

“He had his interests and he was really good at certain things and he pursued those and that was his career as both a professor and academic. But, he was also someone who would be willing to take a step outside his comfort zone and explore new interests,” former student Dan Day said.

Students Mourn Professor Killed In Crash

There was one less professor entering the doors of Gilbert Science Center at Augustana College and everyone who works and teaches there could tell.

“We will miss him dearly,” said Dr. Karen Younger, the natural science division chair at Augustana College.

“It's obviously a big loss. I mean he was the best. I can guarantee you that. He knew everything,” said Swets’ advisee, Danial Faisal.

Doctor Daniel Swets was an associate professor and the chair of computer sciences and mathematics at Augustana College. He was killed Friday on his way to a robotics conference in Rapid City.

Monday, his students showed just how much he will be missed with kind words on signs.

“It really helps us all to have ways of remembering him and having people remember him in their own special ways,” said Younger.

Swets’ office door remains closed with a binary code message from his students. An office, where many say, all were welcome.

“Sometimes the students came in and it was clear it was years after they graduated and they still came back to see him,” said Drew Alton a physics professor at Augustana.

“Every time we used to go to him, he used to always sit with us and give us a lot of time. He used to plan out the whole year for us,” said Faisal.

“His response to people is always with a smile and it makes you feel like he's welcoming you to his office, to come have a seat in the chair and talk,” said Younger.

Some Augustana professors say Swets challenged students and held them to a high standard. And for one professor who's office is next to Swets, the loss will be tough.

“He said, ‘I'm not going to be here on Friday,’” said Alton. “It's hard to believe those are going to be the last things he's ever going to say to me.”

A memorial will be held at Augustana College this Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m., in the Chapel of Reconciliation.

Kelly Sprecher
Communications & Media Relations