Remembering Dr. Richard T. Schneider (July 29, 1927 – Dec. 31, 2014)

In In Memoriam, News by Jen Ambrose

You may have seen one of Dr. Schneider’s last inventions on store shelves – a playful alligator-shaped floating pool thermometer and chlorinator – but his life, his full body of work, revealed great depths under the surface.

Born in Munich and drafted into the German army during WWII, Schneider survived eight months in American prisoner-of-war camps. Years later, after earning his doctorate at the University at Stuttgart, he immigrated to the U.S., where he was recruited to work for General Motors in Indianapolis. After years with GM, researching high-temperature aircraft engines, he joined the Department of Nuclear Engineering Sciences at UF, where he specialized in lasers, optics and engineering physics.

He held 25 patents and was credited with the invention of the nuclear-pumped laser. He was a principal investigator on multiple projects with NASA, the Department of Energy and the U.S. military. He earned the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Service Award in 1968 and in 1975 was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, NASA’s highest honor for civilians.

After retiring from UF in 1988, Schneider became the first tenant at Alachua’s Progress Park, which has become an epicenter for innovation in north Florida. He continued to work throughout the last years of his life. Dr. Schneider passed away in his home, surrounded by his family, at the age of 87. His funeral will take place in Germany.

You can read more about Dr. Schneider’s life in the Gainesville Sun.