David Schneider

David R. Schneider

Professor of Practice
Systems Engineering
Master of Engineering Programs Director for Systems Engineering
Systems Engineering


David R. Schneider graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in chemical engineering in 1999, attended Columbia University Film M.F.A. Program in 2001, and earned his master’s and Ph.D. from Cornell University in mechanical engineering with a concentration in controls & dynamics in 2007. David has taught at both Columbia University, where he was the highest student-rated instructor in the College of Engineering, and at Cornell University where he is now the Director of M.Eng. Studies for Systems Engineering, the largest M.Eng. program at Cornell.

As a faculty member in systems engineering, David has focused largely on industry collaborations, advising over 1200 professional M.Eng. students, and over 1000 students overall on student projects with companies and government agencies that have ranged from Intel, Lockheed Martin, ARM, Carrier, US Green Building Council (USGBC), Applied Materials,  MOOG, SRC, Altera, Boeing, Smithsonian, Hasbro, Autodesk, MathWorks, L-3, MITRE, Da Vinci Labs, JPL, Air Force Research Labs, Marine Corps, NSF, M-E Engineers, NASA Ames, Goddard, & Kennedy, and more, where most projects have lead to real world implementations and/or are being developed with Cornell Technology Licensing. Some of the David’s favorites include:

  • Creation of the Cornell Cup USA presented by Intel, now the Cornell Cup – Arm Enabled, international embedded systems competition
  • Cape Canaveral AFS / NASA Kennedy collaboration Minotaur Launch Vehicle Feasibility Study, turning minotaur missiles into low orbit launch vehicles and leading to successful launch of the OSR-5 satellite
  • Unmanned Aircraft Evasive Maneuver Mission Re-planning Algorithm Development with MITRE
  • Taiwanese Disaster Recovery Plan Modeling with Lockheed Martin
  • New Product Development Process Re-design with Applied Materials
  • R2-D2-inspired Lab Assistant Droid and C-3PO-inspired Telepresence Walking Droid showcased to top members of the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at NASA Kennedy Space Center, the NYC Hall of Science, and Walt Disney World

With a strong focus on education, David created the first experience in the world recognized by the systems engineering professional society INCOSE as knowledge exam equivalent, and the only person to have created now two experiences earning this honor. Additionally, David created and runs the systems engineering courses for Lockheed Martin’s largest Engineering Leadership Development Program. David’s main course, Model Based Systems Engineering, is also now officially sponsored by Boeing. David has also received multiple recognitions for his educational work from the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and was an invited guest for the official start to the National Week of Making and the CS4ALL initiatives. David also led the broader impacts video game creation for the NSF Expeditions in Computing Grant on Computational Sustainability and is the head faculty advisor for Cornell Cup Robotics and Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD), which is commonly Cornell’s largest and most diverse student project team. David was also a screenwriter for Walt Disney Attractions Television Production.

Research Interests

David Schneider's research has traditionally focused on the realm of NP-Hard Computer Science Problems and Controls for Robotic Systems in both centralized & decentralized and autonomous & semi-autonomous systems. His most prominent research is his creation of the G*TA (G-Star-T-A) task allocation algorithm and his work as program manager of the Cornell RoboFlag program, with notable applications including AFRL UAV controls and NASA/NOAA unmanned boat designs. Aside from his work at Cornell, David also values his time dedicated to this area while at NASA Goddard as a team lead in Code 88 Advanced Automations & Architectures.

Most of David’s career at Cornell has focused on collaborative projects and research with industry, or even in support of Cornell initiatives. Some of David’s favorites include:

  • Remote Occupancy Sensing HVAC controls system with M.E. Engineers Architectural consulting firm as well as recently Blackstone’s $448,000,000,000 Global Real Estate Portfolio
  • Sunn Hybrid Lighting Project sighted as a top project in the nearly 20 year history of the EPA P3 grant and became a successful student start-up company
  • Cold Climate Greenhouse Research examining low energy and mixed aquaculture/hydroponics, which raised funding for the creation of new experimental greenhouse on Cornell’s main campus, with a partnering world-wide 70 pilot site collaboration
  • Investigating novel sustainability and alternative energy generation options for the proposed Cornell Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island in NYC with CUSD and being the only student project group recognized and thanked by Cornell President Skorton in letter to the alumni on Cornell’s ~$500,000,000 Tech Campus proposal win over Stanford. Then being highlighted in the opening plenary talk of Greenbuild with USGBC CEO and President Rick Fedrizzi for related work.
  • Disney-Inspired Star Wars Pod Racing Theme Park ride with MOOG for the development of a VR plus 6DoF Motion Platform, cited as being the first successful combination of VR and a 6DoF motion platforms

David is also dedicated to STEM and particularly engineering education R&D since even his early career with publications in journals such as the International Journal of Engineering Education—Active Learning Special Edition and being the key developer of the broader impacts on grants like the NSF Expeditions in Computing Grant on Computational Sustainability. Stemming from his involvement in the Obama CS4ALL initiative, David also developed a means of assessing computer science educational programs against the Computer Science Teacher Association’s K-12 standards as well as informing students, teachers, and parents on a student’s computational thinking learning progression. David continues to be dedicated to this R&D area and has developed a computer science focused educational robot to rival Lego Mindstorms, Vex & MakeBlock that has been licensed thru Cornell Technology Licensing to Educational Technologies. Most recently, David is also a Co-PI on the NSF “Cultivating Innovative Thinking Skills in STEM Education” grant investigating the education benefits of college student project teams and competitions.

Teaching Interests

David Schneider has dedicated much of his career towards the improvement of engineering education. In addition to mentoring typically over 200 students every semester on many of the projects listed above, David has taught courses such as Model-Based Systems Engineering, Engineering Project Leadership, and Creativity in Engineering. Through the Cornell Cup, David has also developed in conjunction with the Cornell team's students, a series of systems engineering professional design guides that target identified nationwide curriculum gaps. Utilizing this work in particular, students have earned such recognitions as being the 1st American team to win the James Dyson Award for Engineering Design, one of America’s “30 Under 30”, and even quoting the guides when being featured on NBC as one of the top six “College Inventions Everyone Should Be Aware Of”.

These guides have been used by students and faculty around the world including from: U. Akron, ASU, Berkeley, Boston U., UC Davis, UC San Diego, Carnegie Mellon, U. Colorado Denver, Columbia, Duke, U. Florida, Florida Inst. of Tech, Georgia Tech, U. Houston, Howard, U. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, John Hopkins, UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, U. Michigan, MIT, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, UPenn, Penn State, U. Pittsburg, Portland State, Purdue, RIT, U. Rochester, RPI, Seattle Pacific, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Tufts, USC, Vermont Tech, Virginia Tech, WPI

David has received numerous recognitions for his work in this area, including recognition from the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where his work was cited as one of seven university efforts in the White House Fact Sheet of Making in 2015 and again in 2016 as one of nine university efforts out of 1,500 university and K-12 efforts seriously considered.

As a member of the Cornell Faculty Institute for Diversity, David also leads what is commonly the largest and most diverse student team on campus, Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD), as well as Cornell Cup Robotics, both of which are often led by a majority of female students.

David also co-founded the NASA Robotics Alliance Cadets program with Mark Leon, NASA AMES Director of Education and David Lavery, NASA Program Executive of Planetary and Solar Exploration. David has also served on a number of educational committees and panels including being a guest expert on the “America’s Favorite Maker” TV show. David has led the efforts to make Cornell the first university to officially partner with Make:. With Make: David led the re-creation of the national entrepreneurial competition "Pitch Your Prototype". David also was the leading faculty member behind the American Society of Engineering Education, Community Engaged Division Film Festival national competition. As one who has always sought to embody Cornell’s “Doing the Greatest Good…” initiative, David with Cornell Cup Robotics is also currently mentoring the Afghan Dreamers, the all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan, thanks to a collaboration with the Afghan Dreamers parent organization the Digital Citizen Fund.

Selected Publications

  • Schneider, David R., M. Leon, C. van der Blink, N. Ahmed, D. Shah, K Lee.  2008. "Active Learning and Assessment within the NASA Robotics Alliance Cadets Program." International Journal of Engineering Education 24 (6):  1091-1102.
  • Campbell, M., F. Bourgault, S. Galster, David R Schneider.  2007. "Probabilistic Operator-Multiple Robot Modeling Using Bayesian Network Representation." April (2nd Quarter/Spring).
  • Schneider, David R., M Campbell.  2005. "Real Time Optimal Task Allocation in Highly Dynamic Environments." Orlando, FL November.
  • Schneider, David R., A. Hoffman, C. Edmunds, B. Medina, J Hosler. 2005. "Adaptive Sensor Fleet Development of Inexpensive Multi-Agent Robotic Testbeds Using the NASA Multi-Purpose Exoterration for Robotic Studies".  
  • Schneider, David R., M Campbell. "Real Time Guaranteed Optimal Task Allocation using Non-MILP Methods." IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Creating the first experience in the world recognized by the systems engineering professional society INCOSE as knowledge exam equivalent, and the only person to have two experiences earn this honor -- only a handful of organizations worldwide have since been able to achieve this recognition
  • Exclusive invitation from Intel for the creation of the Cornell Cup USA Presented by Intel, Innovative Embedded Design Competition
  • Selected by his peers within the Higher Education Makers Alliance and the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to become the First Faculty Member of the Higher Education Makers Alliance to be Highlighted on MakeSchools.org
  • Highlighted in the opening plenary talk of Greenbuild 2012 with USGBC CEO and President Rick Fedrizzi.
  • 1st Ever Winner of the American Controls Conference Interactive Session 
  • NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellowship and National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (David thanks these organizations for their support towards launching his career)


  • B.S. (Chemical Engineering), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1999
  • M.S. (Mechanical Engineering), Cornell University, 2005
  • Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), Cornell University, 2007