Building Tomorrow’s Engineers through Collaboration

Contributed by Kinya R. Minami, K-12 STEM Outreach COI

Volunteers interview a student at a table.

As described in the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan, one of the Society’s main missions is to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals and build leaders able to meet the national security infrastructure challenges of tomorrow. Through its programs at the Post, Regional, and National level, SAME is conducting vital outreach to students across the nation to expose them to possibilities in STEM and encourage them to pursue STEM-related careers.

In addition, SAME, though its Posts and Communities of Interests, partners with like-minded organizations across the nation to further expand our impact and reach more students. One example of this partnership in action was in January when the SAME K-12 STEM Community of Interest sent two members, Roger Minami and Dick Kochanek, to judge for this year’s Facilithon competition, in which 14 high school students and post-secondary students competed to go to the National Skills USA Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Ga. in June.

During the competition, students were asked a series of questions about a real-life scenario pertaining to facilities management. The intention behind the questions was to assess the ability of the students to quickly respond to an actual workplace challenge, and both SAME members were impressed with the quality of the students. “We were nearly ready to hire some of them on the spot,” said Kochanek.

Before the competition, judges must go through extensive training by the FM Pipeline Team Facilithon to help make the judging process go more smoothly. Judges are all professionals in the facilities management industry. Diana Washington, a judge from Washington D.C commented on her rewarding experiences, saying “It has been so rewarding to meet these impressive students of various backgrounds.”

Group of students at Facilithon.


The FM Pipeline Team has been collaborating with SkillsUSA, the largest national Career Technical Student Organization, to present the Facilithon competition to more than 400 students since 2015. Through SkillsUSA, students in participating schools throughout the United States receive practical training in skills such as carpentry, welding, robotics, electrical engineering, and HVAC, in addition to significant leadership training.

SAME also plays an important role in making sure the competition, and other STEM competitions across the nation, are carried out successfully. The State Champion for Florida’s Facilithon is Gerald Morris, PMP, CCM, LEED AP, F.SAME, of Navarro, Fla., who works as a Federal Program Manager. Additionally, SAME’s K-12 STEM COI and College Outreach COI regularly collaborate with other organizations to provide support for their events, whether it is providing volunteers, technical expertise, or funding.

At the local level, SAME’s Posts such as the New York Capital District Post and San Antonio Post encourage students to work in collaboration with organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the New York State Department of Transportation. Posts also contribute to nationwide programs such as the SAME Engineering & Construction Camps, which feature hands on exercises and workshops for students in a collaborative environment through teamwork, leadership, project management, and problem-solving skills challenges.

In the pursuit to be the leading collaborative platform for the A/E/C industry, SAME is dedicated to supporting efforts to develop tomorrow’s STEM leaders and ensure our nation retains the technical capacity needed in the future. This Engineers’ Week, see how you can collaborate with us through one of the links below.