Mike Ilko Graduates from the Sergeant’s Major Academy

Mike Ilko Graduates from the Sergeant's Major Academy

After two years of hard work, Mike Ilko celebrated his well-deserved graduation from the distinguished Sergeant’s Major Academy this past April. 

In August of 2022, Ilko began his journey through the Sergeant’s Major Academy program. The Sergeant Major Academy includes 18 months of rigorous distance learning and two weeks of resident course phase at the Sergeant’s Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. This program serves to produce and develop apt and competent leaders for the military, and graduates are considered to be in the top 1% of the military, signifying the difficulty and prestige of this program.  

While of course Ilko wanted to join this program to become a more competent leader, he clarified, “First of all, I had to complete this program to keep my rank in the military.” All Sergeant Majors are required to complete the Sergeant’s Major Academy in order to keep their status in the military.  

When describing what the program was like for him, Ilko explained that it was a series of self-paced modules that soldiers were expected to complete and keep track of themselves. A large part of the program involved improving literary comprehension and structure through college writing. This was especially important since some soldiers in this program had never taken a college writing class. 

Ilko stated that there were some significant challenges to this course for him and other soldiers. “Time management is the key. Between managing home life, military outside of the program, work, and the program itself, keeping yourself balanced can be difficult,” he explained. However, through many late nights and long days, Ilko persevered through this accomplishment. 

Despite the challenges, Ilko emphasized that the program was beyond beneficial and definitely worth it. He admitted that, although the self-paced nature of the program was hard to keep up with at times, it allowed flexibility for busy soldiers and reminded Soldiers about accountability. 

Ilko agreed that he also developed many skills beyond time-management and accountability. One very important skill that he developed in this course was communication. “I am not a social butterfly,” Ilko remarked. “That course showed me that I need to open up a little bit, especially because many of my soldiers are Gen Z.” With those communication skills, Ilko in turn learned how to communicate with people that have differences in culture and generation, which is something that he believes that many leaders struggle with throughout their time. “Those are my soldiers, and I need to be able to communicate with them,” he said. 

When asked if he thought that his directory for the future would change because of this program, Ilko answered no. “This is pretty much where I am now until I retire,” he laughed. However, Ilko claimed that the leadership skills and habits that he developed through this distinguished program would follow him through the rest of his life. 

Besides this recent accomplishment, Ilko has been a part of the LIS team for 11 years and now holds the position of Survey Coordinator for LIS, serving as an integral part of the organization and coordination of projects for LIS. At LIS, Ilko works to schedule and delegate field crew for projects. Throughout his time at LIS, he has also balanced his military career, being a Command Sergeant Major. 

Women’s History Month Shines Light on Accomplishments of Lucile D. Smith

Women's History Month shines light on accomplishments of lucile d. smith

As the month of March continues, so does the opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month—a time dedicated to recognizing the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. Women’s History Month serves as an important reminder of the valuable impact women have made and continue to make in shaping our world.

In honor of this holiday, L.I. Smith & Associates (LIS) would like to recognize the woman who played an integral role in shaping the foundation of our company as well as leaving a lasting impact on the surveying industry as a whole, Lucile D. Smith.

In 1975, Lucile, along with her husband Larry Isham Smith, founded a small surveying company that would later become a multidisciplinary corporation. She was active in the field, introducing many of the procedures used in boundary surveys still used at LIS today. Her dedication and expertise were further demonstrated when she assumed the role of President of the company in 1996, leading a male-dominated team in a male-dominated industry.

“Lucile was able to motivate a work force like no one else I have seen. She met the challenges of a male dominated workplace and society head on. Her leadership shaped LIS,” LIS President Patrick Smith stated.

Her influence extended beyond shaping the company’s operations, however, as she also left an unforgettable mark on both the state of Tennessee and the surveying profession. Lucile made history in 1987 when she became the first woman in Tennessee to pass the state exam and obtain her surveyor’s license, pushing the boundaries of the profession at the time.

Vice President Larry Smith commented, “Lucile went from chainman to instrument man, to draftsmen, to RLS, to owner. LIS would not have succeeded without Lucile’s involvement and financial management.”

Lucile retired in 2017, but her enduring legacy continues to shape the future of LIS, ensuring her influence will be felt for generations to come. In the fall of 2023, LIS dedicated the conference room in Lucile’s honor. This Lucile D. Smith conference room now serves as a reminder of what she created and accomplished, while also serving as a reminder of the impact that women can have in the industry and in our world.

Tyler LaPointe Graduates Warrant Officer Candidate School in Top 20%

LaPointe after pinning

Tyler Lapointe Graduates warrant officer candidate school in top 20%

Tyler LaPointe, LSIT, survey technician, recently transitioned from Staff Sergeant (SSG) to Warrant Officer (WO1) with the Army National Guard. This transition occurred after LaPointe attended and completed the Warrant Officer Candidate School for five weeks in early 2024, having met numerous requirements including various physical challenges, as well as several academic assessments and interviews. His graduation ceremony was on February 14 at the Army Aviation Museum on the base of Fort Novosel in Alabama.  
“Attending the Warrant Officer Candidate School is an experience that I will not forget. This has set the foundation for the rest of my military career, and I look forward to where this development takes me in the future,” shared LaPointe.  
Now that LaPointe has graduated from the Warrant Officer Candidate School, he is eligible and plans to attend the Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) for six months to become a 120A Construction Engineering Technician. LaPointe’s responsibilities of a Construction Engineering Technician (120A) will then include serving as the subject matter expert (SME) on construction operations, facilities management, and project management in a multifunctional capacity across various engineering operations from an Engineer Company through Army Service Component Command (ASCC) units. Along with this, Construction Engineering Technician provide commanders and staff with expert technical advice on the maintenance and repair of various infrastructures. 
“We are proud of Tyler’s hard work and dedication to his military obligations, career at our company, and industry as a whole,” commented LIS President Patrick Smith. “There is no doubt the leadership experience and hands on skills he has gained in this time with the Army National Guard has allowed him to grow tremendously.” 
This past January, LaPointe celebrated his 5-year employment anniversary at LIS. During this time, he has worked on a wide range of projects and acted as a mentor for new staff and interns. Additionally, LaPointe graduated in December of 2023 from East Tennessee State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Surveying and Mapping. 

LIS plays a Major Role in ASCE Competition at UT Martin 


Two members from the L.I. Smith and Associates surveying team, Aj Maxwell and Tyler LaPointe, were invited to visit the University of Tennessee at Martin campus in early December.   

In preparation for the annual Mid-South American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Symposium surveying competition, Maxwell and LaPointe spent two days setting up a control network. This consisted of 10 metal pins being physically placed into the campus grounds at various locations. Each of the metal pens have a GPS coordinate and elevation assigned to them.   

The competition will be held April 4-6 at the UT Martin campus, and the work conducted by Maxwell and LaPointe is vital to the competition for the students. 13 ASCE Student Chapters from the Mid-South Conference Region will attend the competition. Aside from students using these pens during the ASCE competition in April 2024, UT Martin surveying students and campus staff can use them throughout the following years to collect data. The data collected throughout the years will show changes in elevation of the land and other various characteristics.   

The work LIS has done with UT Martin thus far came into fruition from LIS employee Aj Maxwell, Land Surveyor in Training, having the desire to give back to his alma mater in a professional way that other land surveying students could benefit from. LIS has 10 other employees on staff that are UT Martin alumni and 1 full-time staff member that is currently a student. LIS also currently has an intern who just graduated from UT Martin in December.   

“As a UT Martin alumna myself, and with 10 other alumni on staff as well, this is an amazing opportunity to partner with a local higher education institution that several of us came from. It feels like we’re giving back to UT Martin and we enjoy aiding in providing academic resources for future students as well.”, added Ashley Horn, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at LIS.

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