James Rowings was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, to James and Naomi Rowings. He chose civil engineering at Purdue because of his passion for
construction. Rowings worked his way through school by assisting in the soils, pavement, and structures labs. He worked a co-op with Chicago Bridge and Iron
and was active in the American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter and its concrete canoe team.
After graduation in 1975, Rowings began his
career working for ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia as a construction engineer on projects ranging in scope from $60 million to $2.3 billion. "Both my coursework and
the experiences at Purdue allowed me to tackle engineering and management challenges," he says.
While acting in community theater in Saudi Arabia,
Rowings met LaDona Birkland, a teacher for the dependents of ARAMCO. They shared a passion for travel and took every opportunity to see the countries of the
Middle East, Europe, and the Far East. Married in December 1978, the couple returned to Purdue for graduate work. With Donn Hancher as his major professor,
Rowings completed his MSCE. He then worked with Richard Walker on his PhD modeling energy use in construction.
After completing his doctorate in 1982,
Rowings accepted a faculty position at the University of Kansas. He moved to Iowa State University in 1986 as the professor-in-charge of construction
engineering. During his academic career, Rowings taught every fundamental construction engineering course and many graduate level courses related to
construction engineering and management. He also authored and co-authored numerous papers and books. On a national level, Rowings served in leadership
positions as president of AACE International, chairman of the engineering management group in ASCE, and chairman of the DBIA Education and Research
Foundation. He is a fellow in ASCE and AACE.
After 15 years at Iowa State University, Rowings joined Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc. in 2001 as vice
president for organization development. He was named chief learning officer and vice president of Kiewit University in 2007. Rowings is responsible for the
education, training, and development programs of Kiewit's 20,000 employees.
The couple live in Omaha and have three grown children.