2023 SKILLED Award Winners

More than 6,000 students impacted in 2023

ST LOUIS, MO – S. M. Wilson & Co.’s SKILLED® construction career program is kicking off its fifth year by awarding $1,000 prizes to Missouri and Illinois high schoolers. S. M. Wilson’s Construction Career Education program SKILLED provides hands-on opportunities to integrate academic learning and focus on future employment in the A/E/C industry. SKILLED’s mission is to “Inspire the future of construction.” The company established the initiative in 2019 to inspire the future of construction, a field struggling to employ enough workers, including inspiring more women and people of color to enter the field. 

The annual SKILLED Awards challenges high school students to create a process, lesson, activity or product that engages students with science, technology, engineering, art and/or math (STEAM) to engage younger students in an inspiring way. Sponsored in partnership with the Missouri School Board Association (MSBA), the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) and the STL Works, this year’s SKILLED Awards awarded three $1,000 prizes.

“The SKILLED awards program was created to inspire the next generation to engage in STEAM learning in ways that specifically support their communities. Exposing children to STEAM skills at an early age opens up many opportunities for future development and interest in construction careers and related industries,” says Amanda Bohnert, CPSM, S. M. Wilson’s Chief Marketing Officer and founder of SKILLED. 

This year’s SKILLED Awards Program winners are:

  • Solar Eclipse Watch, created by Alex Renoe and Nate Knarr, high school students in the Columbia Public Schools, which plans to host a Solar Eclipse watch party on April 8 while also raising awareness about the district’s Columbia Aeronautics and Space Association (CASA). 
  • Pirate Prosthetics, created by a team of St. Louis CAPS (STL CAPS) students Merim Malkic (Bayless HS), Nathan Seyer (Oakville HS), Jackson Hardage (Kirkwood HS) and Anela Abdijanovic (Mehlville HS), engage elementary students in creating a robotic cardboard hand incorporating all aspects of STEAM. STL CAPS provides profession-based learning opportunities for high school juniors and seniors. We have students from the following districts enrolled in our courses: Affton, Bayless, Fox, Hancock Place, Kirkwood, Lindbergh, and Mehlville. 
  • One Trailer at a Time, created by Lucas Hutchings and Reece Smallie, high school students in Granite City CUSD 9, explores the importance of learning about STEAM at a young age.

“This project would positively impact our community by introducing young students to future STEAM programs. This will create excitement for the younger kids who are interested in more hands-on learning. This could also positively impact our community by creating more STEAM programs at other places like the library and small, local businesses,” said the Changing the World One Trailer at a Time team in their entry. 

Over the past three years, SKILLED has reached thousands of students across several school districts in Missouri and Illinois. 

Since SKILLED’s inception in 2019, this construction career program has impacted the following:

  • More than 13,000 students served
  • 70 unique STEAM education events 
  • More than 1,800+  hours of educational programming
  • Provided 20 academic stipends 
  • $93,000 in college loans, 529 college savings and tuition reimbursement contributions

“[S. M. Wilson’s] SKILLED and Follow the Build programs bring student engagement into the educational forefront through specific classroom presentations by field experts and on-site field trips to our active project sites. This reinforces the ownership component for our students, allowing them to understand what work goes into building a new facility. GCSD9 appreciates all the commitment from S.M. Wilson to our projects and our students,” said Stephanie Cann, superintendent of Granite City CUSD 9.

Throughout the construction of the firm’s projects, S. M. Wilson hosts various SKILLED events and job site tours to educate preschool through high school students about the project, construction practices and industry career opportunities. 

SKILLED events include:

  • Career presentations: S. M. Wilson professionals cover topics including career paths, education/training experience, general interests and talents;
  • Follow the Build: Site tours followed by classroom discussions with members of the construction team;
  • Build & Tell: Construction equipment and technology demonstrations;
  • STEAM Projects: Students are guided through a project to create a building design or engineer and construct a structure;
  • Community Celebrations: Student handprint or art installations, tours, groundbreakings, beam raising, ribbon cuttings and more; and
  • SKILLED Awards.

Over the past three years, S. M. Wilson has partnered with the following school districts: Francis Howell, Hallsville, Hazelwood, Ladue, Pattonville and Columbia among others to deliver SKILLED programming to students. Learn more at www.SMWSKILLED.com.

As a leader in Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) public school construction, S. M. Wilson is currently the CMAR for several Pre-K to 12th-grade bond programs throughout Missouri. The firm has $600 million in PreK-12 CMAR projects.