Building a New Future

Jose Rosas leans on lessons from the EMDC program as he plays a vital role in the construction of Neom, a futuristic and sustainable city coming to life in Saudi Arabia.

Jose Rosas

A city of the future that’s emerging from the mountainous region of northwest Saudi Arabia is being built more effectively and efficiently thanks to the data Jose Rosas (EMDC ‘22) compiles and provides to project leaders.

The name of the project is Neom, a $500-billion smart city more than 44 times the size of Chicago that is bringing to life a vision of a car-free, net-zero metropolis.

Rosas serves as the project’s data intelligence manager, a job he secured as a student in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program.

“The comprehensive content of the EMDC program improved my confidence in my knowledge and capabilities and also provided me with a versatile skill set,” Rosas said. “The exposure to multiple alternatives and potential strategies shaped a different approach to projects and contributed to my success in landing my role at Neom.”

The name for the futuristic city is the combination of the Greek word neos (“new”) and the Arabic word mustabqal (“future”). This future city covers more than 10,000 square miles near the Saudi Arabian border with Jordan and Egypt on the Gulf of Aqaba.  

One of the project’s most striking goals is to create a city inside Neom that is one continuous line, one-third of a mile high, and more than 100 miles long — a development known as “THE LINE”. The city would have no roads and aims to provide everything its residents need within a five-minute walk.

Rosas’s role in this ambitious and futuristic project is to collect and effectively present the data necessary for stakeholders to make wise decisions on everything from supply chain management to technology. To do that, he leans heavily on the lessons he learned during his time in the EMDC program.

“One of the most crucial lessons was the emphasis on adopting a holistic view rather than a purely operational one,” he said. “This broader understanding allowed me to appreciate the interconnectedness of various aspects within construction projects, from strategic planning to execution.”  

Beyond that, Rosas said the EMDC program gave him the skills to overcome the challenges of such a massive undertaking, including managing financial limitations, effectively allocating human resources, and fostering productive relationships with suppliers.

“In essence, the lessons learned during the program have not only enhanced my technical capabilities but also provided me with a strategic mindset to face multifaceted challenges in the construction industry,” he said. “The EMDC program deepened my understanding of the construction domain and helped me build a 360-degree perspective of real-world construction projects under a vision of excellence at work.” 

Beyond THE LINE, Neom features various distinct regions, including a ski resort, a floating industrial area, and an island getaway. All of Neom’s developments will be powered by clean energy.

A majority of the land being used for the project will remain untouched and serve as a nature preserve for the city’s 9 million residents to enjoy.

The goal of the project is for NEOM to become a hub for innovation and sustainability and, as its name suggests, create a new future in urban living for humans to embrace. Work on the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2030.

Rosas said he is grateful to the EMDC program's leaders and professors for giving him the opportunity to learn what was necessary for him to take on a high-profile role in such an innovative project.

“The program goes beyond theoretical perspectives by creating an environment where experiences are shared and transformed into valuable knowledge,” he said. “The program provides a space where professionals from diverse backgrounds contribute their insights and create a dynamic learning opportunity.”

McCormick News Article