College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Professor’s passion for civil engineering lives on through generous scholarship

Jim Cable Photo courtesy Jim Cable.

Friends, family memorialize efforts of late ISU civil engineering faculty member

Jim Cable <i> Photo courtesy Liz Cable.</i>
Jim Cable
Photo courtesy Liz Cable.

Not many people say they have a passion for Portland Cement Concrete Pavement, but James (Jim) Cable did. The Iowa State University (ISU) civil engineering professor was a dedicated teacher and researcher. It’s this dedication that family, friends and industry partners want to memorialize in the Dr. James K. Cable PCC Overlay Scholarship.

“Jim was often referred to as ‘Dr. Concrete’ across Iowa and beyond our state’s borders,” wrote Gordon Smith and Dale Harrington, lifelong friends of Jim. “His dedication to applied research found him traveling widely, working directly with engineers and contractors in multiple initiatives that would help all of us to better understand concrete pavements and advance the art and science of the pavement craft.”

The scholarship was established in honor of Jim, who passed away in July 2018. The scholarship will encourage a new generation of faculty and students to dig into deep research of Portland Cement Concrete Pavement and its many applications.

More than 50 donors contributed to the scholarship, with a mix of individual donors, corporations and cement associations from across the United States. Additional donations were made at Jim’s visitation, which took place on July 13, 2018.

Recipients of the scholarship will be pursuing either a master’s or doctoral degree at Iowa State University’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (ISU CCEE) and will have an interest in teaching or in working in the concrete paving industry in Iowa or surrounding states.

“What made Jim such a great educator, researcher and engineer was not only his exceptional personality and being an excellent speaker, but his detailed knowledge of concrete,” wrote Smith and Harrington. “The way he explained a very complicated subject in a passionate but unassuming manner drew people to him. They felt his enthusiasm through simple explanations that they could relate to and understand.”

Jim wanted this scholarship to serve as an incentive for students to carry on his own passion for Portland Cement Concrete Pavement. An enthusiastic teacher and researcher, Jim dedicated 20 years of his professional career to ISU CCEE. A native of Hudson, Iowa, Jim received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Iowa State in 1964. He went on to earn his master’s degree in civil engineering at ISU with a specialization in transportation before earning his doctoral degree in transportation engineering from the University of Illinois in 1994.

Over the course of his career, Jim would work with the Iowa Department of Transportation, the United States Army and Reith-Riley Construction Company in Indiana. He returned to Ames in 1985 to spend the final years of his career at Iowa State, retiring from ISU in 2008.

“When Jim returned to the University to join the faculty, he had a unique opportunity to share his professional experience in roles of teacher, researcher, advisor and engineering extension,” wrote Ed Kannel, professor emeritus of ISU CCEE and a colleague of Cable. “The many years of engineering and planning experience that he brought to the classroom was a highlight for students he taught in senior design classes.”

Follow ISU CCEE on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn (search “Iowa State University Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering” and “ISUConE”). NEW: now follow @isuccee on Snapchat and Instagram for the latest updates. Find our website at