Our SME family is passionate about helping others and improving the communities where we live and work. Through community service, strategic partnerships and community investment, we aim to create positive, sustainable change. By giving our resources and ourselves, we build stronger communities.


Starr D. Kohn Memorial Scholarship Fund

Annually, a team of SME volunteers organizes a golf tournament to fund a scholarship in memory of a long-time SME pavement engineer, Starr Kohn, PhD, PE, who passed away suddenly in January, 2009. Starr began his career at SME in 1978 and, along with the great team he built in our Pavement Services group, helped advance pavement research and technologies throughout the Midwest, nationally and internationally. For over 30 years, he was dedicated to his passion, pavement engineering excellence. The strong work ethic, intellect and quality standards he brought to his work eventually propelled him to positions as Principal, Senior Vice President, Group Leader for Engineering Services, and appointment to the SME Board of Directors. Starr was fiercely devoted to his staff and always put their needs before his own. He demanded excellence and innovation, and challenged them to “think outside the box” on every project. He gave generous praise for exceptional work. And, in return he was rewarded with fierce loyalty and respect.

In Starr’s honor, a goal was set to raise $20,000 over a three-year period to establish a scholarship fund in his name through the Community Foundation of Plymouth for University of Michigan Civil Engineering students. On May 29, 2009 over 80 golfers attended the first annual Starr D. Kohn Memorial Golf Outing. The golfers, and a sizable number of hole and corporate sponsors, enthusiastically contributed over $9,500 to a cause we hope would have made Starr proud. In addition, our president, Mark Kramer, PE made an additional $10,500 contribution to the scholarship fund, so we could meet our three-year fund raising goal in just one year! The names of the winning team were engraved on a perpetual plaque, which is displayed in our headquarters office in Plymouth, to memorialize this special event.

This year we held our 10th annual golf outing in Starr's name and raised over $12,000. As of 2018, we have raised over $100,000 to fund engineering scholarships in memory of Starr.

Gail M. Barton Memorial Scholarship

The Gail M. Barton Memorial Scholarship program has been established in recognition of Gail Barton who served as SME's Collections Manager with resolve and a keen sense of professionalism for over 22 years; from 1989 to 2011. Gail was a trusted friend and mentor to those with whom she worked at SME. More important, she was a devoted wife and mother. She and her husband, Jim, instilled life-sustaining values in their sons, Phillip and Kevin, and their daughter, Meredith. Gail was very involved in her children's education and often spoke about the importance of putting college studies to good and practical use. She inspired her children to become engaged and productive members of society. SME is pleased to sponsor two (2) annual scholarships to children of SME staff attending college, in honor of Gail Barton — a woman who believed in the value of a college education and who exemplified and lived SME's values every day, with dignity, grace and unfaltering hope.

Kenneth W. Kramer Scholarship Fund

We also established a scholarship through the Community Foundation of Plymouth in the name of our founder, Kenneth W. Kramer, PE to support local students who want to pursue studies in Civil Engineering from a Michigan ABET accredited university

Building Stronger Communities

Throughout the year, SME team members contribute to their local communities by participating in various service activities, fundraisers and events. Some of the ways SME is giving back include:

  • On Saturday, September 16, the SME Grand Rapids team joined the Wyoming Animal Hospital in Lamar Park for their 5th annual K9 Karnival; a fundraiser held in partnership with the K-911 Foundation to support the City of Wyoming Police Department's K9 Unit. Donations from this event will help fund the purchase of training equipment, protective gear, and assist in providing medical care for the police department's K9 teams. Employees of the SME Grand Rapids office collectively raised over $1,000 for the charity!

  • This year, SME's Plymouth office had its first Operation Backpack event and it was a huge success! The team collected $525.00, 56 backpacks and plenty of school supplies! All financial donations went to Volunteers of America Michigan Operation Backpack (based in Southfield, MI) providing backpacks for homeless children. All physical donations went to Pathways to Potential, a Michigan Department of Health & Human Services program, providing back-to-school supplies to low income children.

  • Each year, approximately 50 students from across the United States attend a six-week Hydrogeology Field Course at Western Michigan University (WMU). For several years SME has assisted with the field camp and 2017 was no exception. The course is organized by former SME employee Tom Howe, now the geosciences specialist in the Department of Geosciences at WMU. During two summer sessions, students toured SME’s Kalamazoo office soils lab to learn about the engineering side of soils. SME team members Errol Gilbert, CET and Myndi Bacon, PE assisted with the tour and discussion of lab testing as well as geotechnical engineering. SME's Casey Smith and Davin Ojala also visited the students during a classroom session and talked about environmental due diligence and the environmental consulting profession. In addition, Brad Masserant provided a direct push drilling demonstration using one of SME’s Geoprobe® rigs.
  • SME is pleased to be a co-sponsor of the 2017 MSPE Capital Area MATCHCOUNTS Competition hosted at Michigan State University on Friday, February 17. The MATHCOUNTS Competition Series is a national program that provides students the opportunity to compete in live, in-person contests against and alongside their peers. Created in 1983, it is the longest-running MATHCOUNTS program and is open to all sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.
  • Each fall semester at Michigan State University, SME’s Christopher R. Byrum, PHD, PE, presents “Introduction to Pavements” in Professor Dennis Welch’s “Soil and Site Development” course to a new class of future engineers. Chris’ presentation targets first and second year undergraduate students in the Construction Management program. Drawing from his passion and years of expertise, Chris provides an overview of pavement systems from the ground up. He shares photos and case studies of challenging real-world construction projects, describes unique aspects of the projects, and shares details of recommendations that solve tough challenges. In this capacity, Chris has been known to ignite a strong passion for engineering in young students, and hopes to facilitate advancement of the engineering field.
  • SME’s Bay City office has been a corporate sponsor of the Wolgast Annual Golf Classic for the benefit of Junior Achievement of Northeast Michigan for several years. All proceeds go to the Junior Achievement Programming, which help local students learn financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. SME’s Annual Holiday Gift-Giving Program for 2015 was a wagon full of fun for the Plymouth office. The team collected wagons full of books that were donated to “The Giving Library” at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. This act of generosity not only helped to distract sick children from their health challenges, but also promoted children’s literacy.
  • SME’s Grand Rapids office has been a recurring sponsor for the Annual Pumpkin Path event organized by the Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department. In 2015, nearly 7,000 people participated in the free fall festival held at Lamar Park for an evening of family-friendly activities. Local businesses sponsor the event hosting spots along the decorated path distributing candy, coupons, trinkets and other items, while interacting with local residents.

    City of Wyoming Pumpkin Path

  • In May 2016, SME’s Kalamazoo office participated in the Children’s Water Festival in Battle Creek. This festival was a free training opportunity sponsored by the Battle Creek Clean Water Partners and the Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science for fourth and fifth grade students that taught them about water resources and why they should be protected. Nearly 1,000 students attended, and through hands-on activities, had the opportunity to learn about how important groundwater and surface water is in our daily lives. 
  • SME's Lansing office was a corporate sponsor of The House of Promise Beauty for Ashes Gala planned for April 21, 2016. Funds raised at the event will be used to rescue victims of human trafficking ages 12-22 and empower them to become healed, restored and successful.
  • In February 2016, SME's offices in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana joined forces and delivered 200 cases of water and more than $400 to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to help the residents of the Flint.
  • SME’s Plymouth office warmed up February 2016 with their first in-house Chili Cook Off. Employees got a chance to show off their culinary skills and were judged by the palates of their co-workers. All proceeds went to benefit the PB&J Outreach, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on feeding and clothing those in need of assistance in the Detroit metropolitan area. It was a spicy success.
  • During the 2015 holiday season, SME’s Grand Rapids office gathered donations for the Baby Pantry for Catholic Charities West Michigan located in downtown Grand Rapids. The pantry stocks a selection of new and gently used items for infant and toddler care at no cost to pantry visitors in need who have children up to 5 years of age. The pantry depends on the generosity of the community to help keep its shelves stocked and organized.    
  • SME's Indianapolis office sponsored 8 children through the Salvation Army Angel Tree program in December 2015. This program is a unique holiday assistance program that connects an individuals or groups with a deserving child, or “Angel," in need. The sponsor receives the child’s first name and a personalized needs and wish list for the child. The wish list given to the sponsor is thoughtfully prepared by the child’s parents so the sponsor knows that he/she is buying something the child both needs and will be excited to open on Christmas morning.  

Habitat for Humanity

SME continues to support Habitat for Humanity by donating in-kind services for new homes, as well as serving on the Habitat Western Wayne County Board of Directors. In-kind lab services have also been donated to the Masonry Advisory Board related to improving masonry veneer materials.

Boy Scouts of Southeast Michigan

SME continues to serve on the Executive Committee for the Annual Building Connections Fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of Southeast Michigan. This fundraiser is sponsored by the Construction Association of Michigan (CAM) and is the largest gathering of the construction community in southeast Michigan. The group donated over $100,000 to the Boy Scouts, which serves over 65,000 families in southeast Michigan. Over 10% of the money was raised by SME and our efforts to secure support from others.

In-Kind Services

We have provided in-kind services to help several communities in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio secure federal grants totaling over $43 million for brownfield redevelopment projects in their communities. For us, it’s invigorating to help communities secure monies that transform blighted brownfield sites into viable and vibrant locations, which in-turn results in profound social and economic benefits. We’ve also provided in-kind services related to community development initiatives, training, and the establishment of Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities. This is a win-win for the communities and SME!

SME donated in-kind services to Oakland County Habitat for Humanity in the fall of 2016. A residence in Oxford Township was designed to be ultra-efficient, with external and internal insulation board around the foundations and slab-on-grade. With this design, the Michigan Residential Building Code allows foundations to be constructed above conventional frost depth, which also saves on the cost on construction. The Township required Habitat to retain an engineering firm to verify foundations were properly constructed, and to verify bearing. Senior Consultant Laurel Johnson, PE provided a visual on the state of the excavations and insulation in place, and Engineering Technician Glen Schmeisl followed up to verify bearing prior to concrete placement.

Community Board Service

We also have team members serving on various boards within our communities including:

ACE Mentoring Program (an organization that promotes careers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering among high school students)
AGC Michigan
American Council of Engineering Companies/Michigan
American Society of Civil Engineers (Southwestern and West Michigan Branches)
Building Enclosure Council of Greater Detroit
Geoprofessionals Business Association/The Best People on Earth
Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals
Center for Community Leadership, Grand Rapids - Community Trustee and Interview Team
Certified Hazardous Materials Managers of Michigan
Challenge Detroit
Cleveland Engineering Society
CREW Detroit Advisory Council
Detroit Cristo Rey High School President's Leadership Council
Geo-Institute Board of Governors
Hatch Detroit
Historic Resource Council/Michigan Historic Preservation Network
Impact Detroit; Institute of Brownfield Professionals
Lawrence Technological University’s Engineering Technology Industrial Advisory Board
Michigan Society of Professional Engineers Southwestern Chapter
NACE International
National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) – Detroit, Kalamazoo/Battle Creek and Lansing Chapters, and NAWIC Camp MAGIC (MAGIC stands for Mentor A Girl In Construction. This week-long day camp introduces high school students to careers in construction.)
Notre Dame Club of Detroit
Owens Community College (Toledo) School of Technology Welding Advisory Committee
Plainwell Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Downtown Development Authority
Seeds of Promise - Advisory Board
Schoolcraft College’s Environmental Studies Advisory Committee
Sterling Heights Board of Code Appeals
Transportation Research Board
U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan
Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority
West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC)  – Committee Member and Inclusion and Development of Environment Allies and Leaders (IDEAL) committee
Western Michigan University’s Industry Advisory Board

Various Fundraising and Participation

Many of our team members participate in a variety of walk/run events or volunteer their time and/or contribute financially to efforts close to their hearts. These programs include the following:

American Cancer Society
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Red Cross
Angela Hospice
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Block-Kids Building Program
Breast Cancer Foundation
Children’s Leukemia Foundation
Covenant House
Cystic Fibrosis
Engineers Without Borders
Focus Hope
Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Flint
Gilda’s Club
Girl Scouts
Ingham County Equal Opportunity
Kanoe the Kazoo
Knights of Columbus
Leader Dogs for the Blind
Make-a-Wish Foundation
March of Dimes
Michigan Math Counts Program
Multiple Sclerosis Society
Nocturne Lake Association
Plymouth-Canton Reality Store
Ronald McDonald House
Salvation Army
Saybrook Firefighters Association
St. Leo’s Soup Kitchen
St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation
St. Vincent de Paul
Spartan Stores YMCA
Streams of Hope
United Way
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Various faith-based organizations and programs
Wyoming Parks and Recreation Pumpkin Path

Team SME

Since 2010, SME has organized an annual golf outing in the name of a local charity. Proceeds from this year’s outing were donated to Streams of Hope, an organization out of Grand Rapids that exists to foster sustainable change through services that build relationships, meet family needs, and promote a healthier community. All proceeds from the outing went to support the Steams of Hope math and reading tutoring program that serves over 65 local elementary students.

SME also sponsors the Alzheimer Foundation and provides financial support for the Catholic Youth Organization of the Archdiocese of Detroit. SME has sponsored numerous events and donated auction items through ACEC/M, ASCE and directly with colleges/universities to raise scholarship dollars for college students studying engineering. Several team members participate in career day demonstrations at local schools to encourage K-12 students to go to college and consider careers in engineering and construction, and serve as visiting instructors at local colleges. Additionally, in the spirit of giving at the holidays, each SME office adopts a charity to support making the season brighter for others.