In Memoriam: Daniel Schneck, professor emeritus of engineering science and mechanics
November 30, 2017
Daniel J. Schneck, professor emeritus of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, died Sunday, Nov. 26. He was 76.
Often described as a Renaissance Man, Schneck’s interests and expertise spanned a wide range of subject areas, including engineering, medicine, music, and law. Born in Argentina and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he gave his musical performance debut on the violin at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall at age 7 and was a licensed pilot at 16.
Schneck earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York in 1963. He then pursued a master’s degree in aeronautics, astronautics, and biomedical engineering in a joint program offered by New York University’s schools of medicine and engineering.
Schneck accepted his first faculty appointment in 1966 at New York Medical College before taking a leave of absence to pursue a Ph.D. in fluid, thermal, and aerospace sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1973 as an associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. Schneck was an instrumental figure in the university’s fledgling biomedical engineering program. He was also a licensed professional engineer in the states of New York and Virginia.
While at Virginia Tech, Schneck taught a variety of courses in biomedical engineering and engineering science and mechanics as well as medical and musical science. He held the W.S. "Pete" White Endowed Chair from 1999 until his retirement and designation as faculty emeritus in 2001, after 28 years of service.
“Dr. Schneck was particularly instrumental in the College of Engineering’s early studies of cardiovascular biomechanics,“ said Wally Grant, the Kevin P. Granata Faculty Fellow Emeritus in the department of biomedical engineering and mechanics. “His contributions in this field and others highlight his dedication not only to the profession, but also to his students.”
Among his many student and campus outreach initiatives was his organization of Virginia Tech’s first student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society. He was recognized as a Fellow of both this organization and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
During his academic career, Schneck authored more than 300 scientific publications, including almost 30 books. One of his most notable works, “The Music Effect,” outlined how music is processed by and affects the body and discussed music therapy as a treatment for a range of physiological and psychological conditions.
An accomplished violinist, Schneck trained at Juilliard and pursued an active professional career in music even after his retirement from Virginia Tech. His performance credits include the New York Opera Orchestra, the Cleveland Philharmonic, the Oberlin Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. He and his wife, Judi, also a violinist, taught music together and have directed the K-8 music program at the Blacksburg New School since 2002.
Additionally, as a court-qualified expert witness in forensic biomechanical engineering, Schneck often worked as a legal consultant on cases throughout the Southeast. He was also active in local community service throughout his lifetime, participating in the Civil Air Patrol as well as Rotary International and the Montgomery County School Board.
Schneck’s family will celebrate his life in a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Blacksburg New School music program in honor of Dan Schneck.