swanson

David Swanson made the staff at the Holland Computing Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln feel like a family.

Swanson, director of the HCC and research professor in computer science and engineering, died in a two-vehicle crash in Minnesota on Aug.11. He began working at UNL in 1999 and became the HCC director in 2005, according to a Nebraska Today article. 

Carl Lundstedt, HCC grid system administrator, said Swanson was ambitious about growing Holland and making it a UNL resource. He said Swanson leaves behind a strong computing center and a dedicated staff that will continue that vision.

“He was inclusive and enthusiastic, not only about what he was doing and the Holland Center was doing, but about what anyone was doing, with your personal life, work, and research,” said Garhan Attebury, HCC lead system administrator. “It made us who worked there with him appreciate him.”

During Swanson’s tenure, the HCC grew to include 16 staff, who provide services like data analytics and computing support for campus departments to assist users and engage students and researchers. 

The HCC contributed to several research studies under Swanson, including a model showing that water-repellent surfaces can improve ice removal, groundbreaking research of gravitational waves streaming from a 1.3 billion-year-old collision of black holes and a code for what makes a bestselling book.

“In the sense of all of these accomplishments, we can attribute that to [Swanson] building it from the ground up over the last 20 plus years,” Attebury said. “The Holland Computing Center today is his legacy.”

Attebury, who worked closely with Swanson during grad school, said Swanson genuinely cared about the people he worked with and their opinions.

“He went out of his way to chat with people, talk and find out what was going on,” he said. “He wanted to get their input on things even when he probably knew the answer himself.”

Swanson’s energetic and fun-loving personality made the work environment exciting, Attebury said. 

"The way that he ran this group and his leadership lent to that excitement,” he said. “No one was ever bored.”

University of Nebraska Foundation and Union Bank set up two funds to support the Swanson family. The University of Nebraska Foundation created the Dr. David Swanson Memorial Fund, which is available online, for people to send donations and gifts, and the Union Bank created a fund to collect donations on the Swanson family’s behalf.

Attebury said he wants Swanson to be remembered for all of his accomplishments and his vision for providing computing capabilities for all science disciplines.

“He liked to always offer up the capability for those [researchers] who want to better humankind,” he said.

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