Highlights from the 2014 SAME Small Business Conference

by The Burns & McDonnell Team on December 17, 2014

2014 SAME Small Business Conference in Kansas CItyLast week I attended the 2014 SAME Small Business Conference (SBC) in Kansas City. There was a great mix of military and SAME personnel, small businesses and big businesses attending and exhibiting — more than 1,800 in total. As a project manager for government and military architecture projects, I look forward to this event each year. It’s one of the best ways to connect with key military decision makers and small businesses. Here are a few highlights from the event.

Military Commitment to Small Businesses

SAME — the Society for American Military Engineers — has always been an advocate for small businesses, and this conference demonstrates that commitment. Personnel from all military branches attended, which is a testament to the government’s commitment to bringing key leaders together to connect with and mentor small businesses. The goal is to build strong relationships and provide small businesses with new opportunities. It shows that the leadership takes small business programs seriously and are putting the programs to work.

The small businesses each have a lot of pride and enthusiasm for the work they do, and it was refreshing to see. They weren’t afraid to network, share what they do, create new partnerships and ask for tools and federal programs they need to succeed. This was fascinating to watch and experience.

One-on-One Networking Sessions

Among  the most productive events of the conference were the Matched Networking Sessions, where small businesses met face-to-face with representatives from government and large businesses. Each big business was assigned an hourlong networking time that was divided into 10-minute sessions, providing six small businesses the opportunity to introduce themselves, explain their business and explore partnership opportunities.

This was a great opportunity for small businesses and big businesses alike. The one-on-ones were particularly advantageous for the small businesses, as they selected which companies they wanted to meet with based on their business needs and goals. One tip for small businesses next year: Research the big businesses you want to team with and sign up for those sessions early; they fill up quickly! Many small businesses we met with provided one-page descriptions of their firm capabilities, which was super helpful for me and will serve as a great quick-reference guide for post-conference follow-up.

Women-Owned Small Business Session

I attended many presentations during the conference, but the session I got the most out of — and which had the most engaged crowd — was the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Session. The group was outspoken, which led to a fascinating dialog among attendees and panel members. Several attendees asked about the WOSB program and expressed their concerns with WOSBs not having the opportunity to compete as the prime consultant for federal RFQs since there are not sole-source opportunities for WOSBs. WOSBs do not currently have a sore-sourcing capability and were asking SAME if this was going to happen.

Presenters suggested that WOSBs get to know their competitors and strategize with them to make sure they are responding to particular “sources sought” solicitations that meet their needs. If more WOSBs submit on the same “sources sought,” the federal government will recognize the need to make some of these solicitations a “set aside” for WOSBs.

Most government agencies are not currently meeting WOSB goals, so plenty of opportunity is available for WOSBs who take advantage of this strategy. There’s another category called Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB). This category is based on the owner’s financial situation. Knowing if your WOSB qualifies in that category could be a differentiator.

One particularly interesting stat about women in business: Roughly 28% of all companies in the United States are women-owned, but of those companies, only about 4% are awarded government work.

As always, the Small Business Conference proved extremely valuable, and I’ve already marked my calendar for the 2015 Small Business Conference November 4-6 in New Orleans. I encourage you to do the same. If you attended the event in Kansas City this year, I’d love to hear about your highlights from the event, including which sessions were your favorites.

Wendy Hageman, RCID, LEED AP, DBIA, is the architecture and interior design department manager for the Burns & McDonnell Aviation & Federal Group. She’s a senior project manager for government and municipal architecture projects.


Two New Exhibits Now Open At Science City

by The Burns & McDonnell Team on December 12, 2014

2014-Science-City-Exhibits-Grand-Opening-0015Two new exhibits, Genetics: Unlock the Code and Every Last Drop: The Science of Water, are officially open at Union Station’s Science City. They feature designs inspired by some very talented students at two Kansas City-area schools: Leawood Elementary and Olathe North High School.

After being named the grand prize winners at last year’s Battle of the Brains competition — a K-12 STEM education competition sponsored by the Burns & McDonnell  Foundation — the two winning teams were presented with $50,000 to use toward STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and the unique opportunity to see their design concepts transformed into real-life exhibits.

Now, after more than 10 months of patiently waiting, these Kansas City-area students got to see their dreams come alive when their exhibits were unveiled at yesterday’s grand opening ceremony at Science City.

What do these innovative exhibits contain?

Genetics: Unlock the Code was designed by a group of students from Leawood Elementary who were inspired after hearing their teacher, Brittani Wilton, talk about her own genetic condition that results in overly flexible joints, as well as extremely fragile and elastic skin.

Each person is 99.9% identical to the person next to them, and this 22-component exhibit helps visitors discover the science and wonder behind that fraction of a percent that makes you — you.

Unlock the Code features interactive discovery stations that give visitors a hands-on experience while they gain a better understanding of the human genome, and while we want everyone to come experience the exhibit for themselves, here are a few of our favorite activities in the exhibit:

At the DNA Dance-Off!, hop on a floor interactive to build keratin DNA. See the code – and your results – on a massive LED wall. Compete with others or challenge yourself in the world’s first genetic dance-off!

DNA Dance-Off!

DNA Dance-Off

What would you look like with black curly hair? What about dimples? Try-a-Trait is an augmented reality experience that lets you explore what you’d look like with different inherited traits.



Stick out your tongue, smile, and check your earlobes and hairline at the Trait Tree. Follow the directions to discover how many unique traits your share with others!

Trait Tree

Trait Tree

Will you Find Your Future in genetics? Investigate jobs by watching videos of young professionals to guess their career.

Find Your Future

Find Your Future

Once you’ve experienced with the excitement of genetic discovery, head on over to Every Last Drop: The Science of Water, the visually stimulating exhibit inspired by a group of teens from Olathe North High School. Featuring 18 unique components, the exhibit immerses visitors in all aspects of our relationship with water, such as the interaction between water and life, how we use water, and the impending danger of water scarcity.

From the Floating Faucet and Cleaning Our Water process wall to Exploring and Aquifer and the Suspended Water Molecules that create a one-of-a-kind lighting system, the interactive components will keep you mesmerized throughout the exhibit. It is sure to give you a new perspective on H2O.

And our favorites?

Splash and learn at two activity-packed Water Tables, where visitors can use tabs to direct the flow of water, turn a water wheel, overflow a tipping cylinder, toss balls into a water vortex, and more!

Water Tables

Water Tables

Defy gravity with an Archimedes Screw that lets you use one of the oldest architectural tools to make water move uphill!

Archimedes Screw

Archimedes Screw

At the Interactive Sand Table, visitors can build valleys and mountains out of sand, manipulating the map’s topography to discover how water flows through our landscape.

Interactive Sand Table

Interactive Sand Table

Interactive Sand Table

The Tapped Out Room is a visual masterpiece with stunning images and interesting stories about innovative H2O Engineered solutions, including the tiny Life Straw and the massive Colorado River project.

Tapped Out Room

Tapped Out Room

Tapped Out Room

Even cooler than the exhibits themselves is hearing from students who have a fortified interest in pursuing STEM-related careers thanks to the Battle of the Brains. That’s music to our ears.

But don’t take our word for it. Head to Science City to check out the exhibits for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. And after you do, stop back by the blog or visit our Facebook page and let us know what you think!


Battle of the Brains: Olathe North Student Shares His Story of Success

December 9, 2014

With the excitement of the upcoming Battle of the Brains big reveal reaching its peak, we reached out to the winning group of students from Olathe North High School to ask for their reflections on winning the Battle of the Brains. Griffin Karr, a junior at Olathe North, shared his perspective on the whirlwind experience: […]

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Holiday Gift Guide for STEM Lovers

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Whether you’re shopping for a loved one or thinking about your own holiday wish list, finding the perfect gift for STEM lovers can be even trickier than navigating the shopping mall during the holiday season. Lucky for you, our friends over at STEMJobs.com put together the ultimate gift guide full of this year’s must-have STEM […]

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Energy Management Solutions for the Port of Los Angeles

November 25, 2014

With growing prices of diesel fuel and increased restrictions on air emissions, California’s shipping ports are looking for electric alternatives to power their vessels — and with that comes the need for energy management solutions to increase power reliability. As the nation’s busiest place for incoming goods, the Port of Los Angeles handles more than […]

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Transforming Trash into Energy

November 20, 2014

Although energy collection is possible from sources like sun and wind, these natural options don’t generate renewable energy as consistently as another abundant component of our everyday life. What’s this less glamorous resource? Trash — buried, decaying, we-don’t-ever-want-to-see-that-stuff-again trash. Our garbage is the perfect source of renewable energy because the gas flow in landfills is […]

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