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Tuesday, Jul 27, 2021

This is one in an occasional series of stories that will profile Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) employees who help keep the MAC’s airports running smoothly.

Practically all of Ben Swartzer’s work at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is behind-the-scenes, but passengers very much count on the visible results of his work every day.

Swartzer is an Airport Systems Business Analyst for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

The technology systems he works with support almost every digital display a person might come across at MSP. That includes flight information displays, the digital signs on the inbound roadway at Terminal 1, the interactive directories at both terminals, the monitors that display wait times for the security checkpoints, electronic wayfinding signs, and the airline common-use check-in kiosks recently installed in Terminal 1’s Departures Hall – to name a few.

As an employee of the Information Technology department, Swartzer’s work touches almost every moment of a passenger’s journey, from the technology that controls MSP’s passenger processing to the airport’s heating and cooling systems.

Swartzer was adopted from South Korea and grew up in Delano, Minn. After high school, he attended Alexandria Technical College and obtained his avionics license to work on airplanes’ mechanical systems.

Following that two-year degree, he furthered his education at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, where he earned a Management Information Systems degree.

Swartzer, who is married and has two children, then worked as a software engineer, a project manager and a systems analyst before joining the MAC in 2012. Initially, he worked in a position that supported an internal software program used by MAC employees.

A few years later, he applied for an opening at the MAC that would have him working with airport computer systems all over the MSP campus.

“I jumped at the opportunity, which was something new and let me learn more about the airport as a business,” Swartzer said.

(Continuation from the MAC Newsletter story:)

And that’s one of the pluses of working at the MAC, he said. “There are a lot of opportunities. Being at the airport terminal is a whole different experience. There’s always something going on that needs IT’s attention.”

The touchscreen interactive digital directories have been popular at MSP. At a time when people appreciate less personal interaction and touchless experiences, Swartzer is helping to bring a new touchless version of those to life.

“You’ll scan a bar code, and then you’ll be able to get an airport map that you can load on your phone and use to find your destination,” he said.

Swartzer also does tech work for the MAC’s six general aviation (or Reliever) airports. His work at those airports, which includes Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie and the St. Paul Downtown Airport, involves maintaining a system dashboard that manages the status of maintenance equipment used at those locations.

This fall will mark nine years for Swartzer with the MAC. In that time, he’s noticed that long-time MAC employees are the norm. The longevity of employees at the MAC, he said, “speaks volumes about what the MAC is all about.”

“There always seems to be challenging work here,” he added. “Time flies; that’s part of the reason I like the job. And we’ve got a fantastic team.”