Academic Excellence Award: Kyle Smeaton

Kyle Smeaton
Web Programming & Database Development ‘18
Edina, MN


Kyle SmeatonWeb Programming & Database Development isn’t just a career path for Kyle Smeaton – it’s his passion in life. That excitement and curiosity for his field of study is one of the many reasons why Smeaton was selected as one of two Computer Technology Academic Excellence Award recipients for the Class of 2018.

“I really like programming computers and making them do what I want them to do,” Smeaton said. “And I discovered I could make a living doing it.”

Smeaton attended the Fair School Downtown where he developed an interest in theatre tech. Wanting to give that a try, he attended a community college for one semester, taking classes in stage lighting and sound design.

He liked the field, but wanted to give his main interest a try — computer programming.

Having heard good things about Dunwoody, he decided to attend an open house and soon after made the decision to enroll.

“I liked the idea of a two-year college experience,” he said. “It gets you out in the field faster, and I enjoy the hands-on learning — it’s not just theory. If you really love doing something and you want to get out in the job field, [Dunwoody] is a good way to go.”

Already a hands-on learner, Smeaton had built his first computer back in high school. It was then that he fell in love with Linux, an open-source software operating system.

“My first time talking to Kyle was two months before his first day of school,” said Computer Networking Assistant Professor Curt Gabrielson. “He was so interested in Linux that he contacted me to find out more about the Open Source Club at Dunwoody. He has been involved with the Club since becoming a student and is now the club president. He has also become Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa.”

Smeaton has always liked understanding the science behind what makes things work. In high school, he decided to take apart a large lantern battery so he could turn it into a machine that split water into its component parts using an electric current.

“I get really excited about that kind of stuff,” Smeaton said.

That excitement is evident when Smeaton begins talking about his final project at Dunwoody, which involves another interest — mountain biking. He built a website database that catalogs mountain bikes to make it simple to search for exact specifications.

“I’m kind of loving everything I’m doing right now,” Smeaton said. “I feel like I’ve really grown here. Dunwoody has helped me find myself. It’s really a privilege to get to do something you love.”

Gabrielson said Smeaton is always willing to share his knowledge with others. “Kyle is a pleasure to have in the classroom. He is excelling academically as one of the top students of his cohort, with near perfect grades. He also has a near perfect attendance record and routinely sacrifices time to help other students.”

Looking to the future, Smeaton wants to find a system administration position or a position that includes database work. He also wants to contribute to the programming community and maybe even program a video game someday.

And as with everything he does, Smeaton will bring his self-motivation and his desire to keep improving and learning. “I want to be able to contribute and help other people,” he said.