Christian (Cris) Schwartz


Mechanical Engineering
Director of Undergraduate Education


2024 Black Engr.
2529 Union Dr.
Ames, IA 500112030


Prior to his current appointment, Cris was an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University in College Station and was granted tenure before joining ISU in 2012. He currently leads the Surface Sciences research group which focuses on issues that link biology, tribology, and design. This includes extensive work with the friction and wear of polymers, orthopaedic biomaterials, tactility of polymer materials, and skin tribology. He has a special focus on using skin tribology investigation to improve tactual assistive technologies for persons with blindness or other visual impairment. He is a licensed professional engineer and an active engineering consultant.  Before his academic career, Cris was a research engineer at Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) in San Antonio, Texas from 1998 to 2003, where he served as a project manager, mechanical designer, and technical investigator, while being a named inventor on three U.S. patents.  Among his past industry projects is work on the non-lethal Mobility Denial System for the U.S. Department of Defense and the design of ultrasonic inspection hardware for military aircraft. He has taught in the areas of materials science, mechanics, statistics, tribology, and engineering design and has been recognized for his classroom efforts with the Student Led Award for Teaching Excellence (SLATE) and the Peggy L. and Charles L. Brittan ’65 Teaching Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching.


  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 2006
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1998
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1996


Licensed Professional Engineer

  • State of Iowa, License No. 16967
  • State of Texas, License No. 90291 (inactive status)

Southwest Research Institute

  • Senior Research Engineer, 2002-2003
  • Research Engineer, 1998-2002

Interest Areas


  • Solid Mechanics
  • Engineering Design
  • Kinematics
  • Criteria-based assessment and grading
  • Engaging visually impaired students in STEM topics


  • Tribology (friction and wear) of biological materials
  • Polymer tribology
  • Haptics and Tactility
  • Tactual assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired
  • Biomedical implant design and testing