Charles Schwab came to Iowa State University 27 years ago because of the university’s reputation as one of the pioneers of agricultural and biosystems engineering. In his time in Ames, it has been Schwab’s goal to make farmers and their families safe while at work and play.
Years ago, Schwab created a display that measured a person’s strength in comparison to what would be needed to pull themselves out of a grain bin. After one presentation, Schwab was approached by a farmer who had participated in the demonstration the previous year and brought a friend with him to see the display again.
“He pulled out the card we give people saying that he wasn’t strong enough to pull himself out of the grain,” Schwab said. “He really wanted his friend to experience it. He brought someone back to help make sure they were safe when they were thinking of entering a grain bin.”
What do you do for ISU Extension and Outreach?
I provide leadership for agricultural safety, helping to make Iowa farms a safer place to work and live. I also conduct research into granular mechanics safety and injury and fatality identification and an analysis and education of safety methods.
What is the best part of working for ISU Extension and Outreach?
To be able to share the information that I have and to be able to make a difference in a person’s life. Nothing is more rewarding than to know that you’ve shared information that actually helped keep a person from being injured or dying on a farm.
What drew you to Iowa State?
It always stood out to me that this is where Extension began. It fit my desire to be able to communicate information and things that are happening in the lab and share them. The agricultural and Biosystems engineering department also has a huge history in our profession. And we are the No. 1 ranked department in ag and Biosystems engineering in the country, so that makes it even more special.
Do you have any big upcoming projects or events?
Farm Safety Week is September 17-23, with a theme of putting farm safety into practice.
A series of Safe Farm publications have also all been updated on the ISU Extension Store.
Name one fun thing about yourself that not many people know.
In the summer I ride to work on my Segway. I live just over two miles away from campus and get to drive through central campus. It’s an enjoyable route to drive on my way to the office.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy playing a round of golf. I don’t play as much as I used to, or would like, but there is something about golf that no matter how good I am I can always improve. That’s what I enjoy about golf. And every once in a while you will have a shot that’s so remarkable that you want to do it again. (Like an ace on the par-4 sixth hole at Homewood Golf Course in Ames.)
What is one thing you would like to accomplish in this position?
I think that my time here has helped several people avoid serious injury, or even a fatality. I’m not a doctor that constantly saves people, but it’s incredibly rewarding know that something you have done has made a difference.