Q&A Session with Kyle Miller

Whether it’s the management of a multi-million dollar school, creation of the music behind project videos, or poker on a Friday night, Kyle Miller—Principal and Project Manager at Schmidt Associates—puts full effort into all he does.



Tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Shelbyville, Indiana and have held a full-time job since I was 16. I started out working at a grocery store and continued working there all through college and even four years after I landed my first “real” job with a civil engineering firm.

What is your passion, outside of work? Kyle and his guitar

I have always had a passion for music, whether it is piano or guitar, composition or performance, and it’s been a constant throughout life.

I loved playing guitar and going to concerts with friends in high school, and I guess it just continued into my adult life. Around 2000, I joined my first real band, Magnolia. We performed southern and classic rock at local bars and parties around town. After that band had ran its course, I joined Throwback Jack with the drummer from Magnolia. That was a lot of fun.

Additionally, I started playing in the praise band at my church. I played about 49 of the 52 weeks out of the year for 13 years. Between practices on Wednesday nights and Sunday morning services, it was a lot of work. But perhaps the most exciting music I have ever played was for the Lebanon Educational Foundation Follies. For 12 years, I participated in this annual show where I was given 50 songs (generally Broadway show tunes) with sheet music that I had to learn in a week. It was fun and I developed many new relationships—but mostly, it was the biggest challenge, musically, I have ever had.

What inspires you?
I love getting to know people. So, I love pursuing a new opportunity or a new project. Of course, once the pursuit is over, I constantly worry about my new clients and delivering on the promises I made to them.

What’s your favorite thing to do downtown?
We actually moved downtown in 2014. The kids were out of high school and my wife and I were ready for a change from suburban life. We both like downtown—visiting and working—so we decided to build a house in Fall Creek Place. Interestingly, the house that is right next door to mine was the former home of Reverend Jim Jones. Don’t drink that Kool-Aid!

That said, we obviously spend a lot of time downtown. I love to eat lunch at Bru and dinner at Salt and we have season tickets to the Colts. We just love the city and all that it has to offer.

What’s something not everyone knows about you?
Not only do I play music, but I also compose. I had written a song for a country music band I played with. The lead singer from that group actually took the song—music and lyrics—to a professional producer/musician in Nashville and had it professionally recorded.

Do you have any hidden talents?
Not sure if it’s a talent, maybe a problem, but I play a lot of poker—and sometimes I win. I am a founding member, five-time winner, and PLA (Poker League Administrator) for the Premier Indy Men’s Poker Society (PIMPS).

Kyle and his wife, Amy have been married 23 years. They have three kids—Dustin, 30; Erin, 28; and Danielle, 26; and one granddaughter—Arianna, 10.

Kyle Miller's Family










Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia Brant, Liam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie Layton, and Anna Marie Burrell

Synthetic Turf Fields 101

It always pays to know the advantages and disadvantages before making a big change for your facility. Deciding to switch from natural to synthetic turf is a good example of that. Synthetic turf fields are gaining popularity among sporting and recreational venues because of the lower maintenance costs and the perk of year-round use. However, natural turf is still here to compete with it’s lower upfront costs. So which is right for your facility?

Kyle Miller, Principal, Project Manager, and our expert on the topic, breaks it all down for you.

Also, check out our infographic comparing synthetic and natural turf


Give it a Shot

Did you know Schmidt Associates has developed an expertise in the niche field of outdoor Shooting Ranges? With about 55 million Americans owning a gun, the need for safe and secure ranges has increased. Flip through our Issuu publication on shooting ranges, and learn about best design practices on these projects:





Using Cost Analysis to Tell the Story

Quality cost analyses are important to share with not only the Owner, but the design and construction team. Updating them throughout the life a project helps ensure the result is what everyone expected. There are multiple ways to do a cost analysis, but here’s an overview of what it means at Schmidt Associates.

So, what exactly are the elements and details of a cost estimate? The graphic below shows two ways to look at it, from the cost side, and project side. If the Owner knows two out of the three, we can figure out the third!


Looking at the elements of this, you need to understand the equation to make up a project cost:


So, what exactly is the difference between them?

Hard Costs include the following:

  • Construction Costs (labor, materials, equipment)
  • Contractor’s General Conditions, Overhead and Profit
  • Construction Contingency
  • Allowances
  • CM, Clerk-of-Works Fees, etc. could be part of Hard Costs when calculating our fee

Soft Costs (typically 10-30% of the hard cost total) includes:

  • Cost of Land, Rights-of Way, Easements
  • Professional Fees (Architectural Fees), Consultants, and Reimbursable Expenses (Printing, Mileage)
  • Surveys and Geotechnical Engineering Services (Soil Borings)
  • Traffic Studies
  • Asbestos Abatement
  • Design Reviews, Local and State Permits, State Release, Tap Fees
  • Commissioning
  • Builder’s Risk, Title, and Bond Insurance
  • Finance Costs (i.e. Bond Counsel, Financial Advisor, Interest, Advertisements, Other)
  • Loose Equipment (FFE, Technology)

As you build the hard and soft costs, it’s extremely important to have a reasonable construction contingency. This is a pre-determined dollar amount to cover change orders, add-ons, and other things that come up during construction. In addition to the construction contingency, you should consider allowances. Allowances are an additional safety net to for unforeseen circumstances. Change orders almost always happen, so planning for them is essential.

At Schmidt Associates, we build the first budget in the Project Definition phase. This is when we determine the full context of the project with the Owner – what spaces functions will the project serve, how big will it be, etc. This allows a preliminary budget to be built. As the project moves forward, the Final Design estimate is developed. This is a much more detailed budget than Project definition. The construction document cost estimate is then updated from the Final Design estimate.

Throughout the life of the project, the budget is regularly being reviewed and shared with the full team. We set expectations to understand all budget restraints at the kick-off meeting when Project Definition begins. We identify cost issues early, and include them in all subsequent discussions. It’s important to address when either the Owner or the design team may be causing scope creep. It’s our job to protect the budget!

As we protect the budget, it’s important to understand the difference between Value Engineering (VE) and DeValue Engineering (DVE). Value Engineering looks at the elements of a project and the systems life cycle cost to determine the best use of the budget. DeValue Engineering is cutting scope, and often quality, to maintain the budget.

At Schmidt Associates, we look at projects holistically considering materials and systems by discipline, and what the best options are. Let’s look at the floors for example. In a perfect world, you want the nice terrazzo floor. However, you aren’t sure the budget will allow for it. You can bid the project with a more affordable option like Luxury Vinyl Tile, and have the terrazzo floor as an alternate. That way, if bids come in low, you can change the flooring while staying within budget.

Overall, it’s important to talk about the budget throughout all of design and construction. Having common expectations and a clear understanding ultimately allows for a successful project.

Synthetic Turf 101 Infographic

Synthetic turf is quickly becoming the norm for many sporting venues at a variety of levels: professional, college, high school, and parks and recreation. This product makes sense when a variety of sports are played year round, and field use is at a premium. However, it does come at a high initial cost and is currently being beat up in the media over potential health concerns with crumb rubber. Natural turf is still a very good option for cost. Recent advances in technology may make natural turf the best choice for some Owners. In fact, the Baltimore Ravens recently removed their turf field to go back to natural turf.

Either way, it pays to investigate the pros and cons for each type of surface to determine which solution is best for the need and budget. This infographic provides a comparison of synthetic and natural turf fields.



Pavement Inventory & Maintenance Studies

What is it?

A few school corporations and townships have recently been asking Schmidt Associates to put together a plan book regarding the conditions of their pavements. In short, these pavement inventory and maintenance studies are analyses of the existing pavement conditions, asphalt or concrete, at a particular site.

Here’s how it works…

The pavement is evaluated and rated with a scale that helps determine which sites or areas are most in need of help. Pictures, notes, and maps used to mark the specific problem areas are used alongside a rating chart to best outline the problems and areas needing the most attention and improvement. After the assessment is completed, Schmidt Associates will determine the estimated repair costs for each area needing repair. Finally, we prioritize what areas need to be repaired first so that over a period of time your ratings will get better and your cost for repairs will slowly decrease as problems are strategically tackled. In sum, this process will prioritize the most important repairs for someone’s site and help set a strategic budget plan to complete repairs over time.

The finished plan book includes:

  • Executive summary of the site conditions
  • Pavement and concrete assessment forms (rating charts)
  • Estimated repair costs per site
  • Site plans and maps with marks showing what needs fixed where
  • Photographic documentation
  • 5 year plan outlining the year to year timeline for improvements


What we look for, and the benefits of repairs

The major reason why owners should assess and repair their pavements is for safety and cosmetic purposes. If you want to keep your site from looking run-down or becoming unsafe, sealing and repairing your sidewalks and parking lots can go a long way. In short, it may not be glamorous work, but it needs to be done.

When doing our assessments, here is where we look, and what we look for…

Where We Look:

  • Asphalt running tracks
  • Asphalt tennis courts
  • Hard surface play areas
  • Parking lots
  • Entrance and exit drives
  • Concrete walkways/sidewalks
  • Concrete aprons and steps
  • Concrete curbs
  • Parking bumpers
  • ADA ramps and accessibility issues


What We Look For:

  • Overall condition of pavement
  • Cracking (Area covered and size of cracks)
  • Deterioration (Does it need a mill and overlay or full depth replacement?)
  • Parking lot striping/paint
  • Poor drainage conditions


pavement pavement 2


Synthetic Turf—Not Just for Sports Fields Anymore

Installing synthetic (artificial) turf for sports fields instead of natural turf is no longer just for the professional teams, large universities, or “rich” high schools. Over the past 10 years, there has been a shift from synthetic turf being a luxury item to an option that simply makes good sense. In fact, Lake Central High School will soon be one of the only (if not the only) Indiana public high schools with football, soccer, baseball, and softball all being played on synthetic turf. Other now-common sport-related uses for synthetic turf include indoor training facilities, golf greens, and tennis courts.

Tennis Courts

Tennis Courts

In addition to sports fields, there has been a serious push recently to use synthetic turf for playgrounds, pet parks, commercial lawns, residential lawns, and rooftop patios. Nevada and California have incentive programs that pay cash to property owners who replace their natural turf lawn with synthetic turf to reduce water usage.

Residential Lawns

Residential Lawns

While the biggest disadvantage of synthetic turf continues to be the upfront costs, there are many advantages compared to natural turf:

Much less maintenance and manpower requirements
•  Unlimited use of fields with no “recovery” time following rain
•  Superior and more consistent appearance
•  More consistent playing conditions
•  Safer than natural turf fields that are not properly maintained
•  Backed with 8- to 10-year warranty
•  Environmental advantages:
–Reduced water usage
–No need for herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
–Materials are recyclable
–Less need for gas-powered equipment




Pet Parks

Pet Parks

Commercial Lawns

Commercial Lawns

* Images are courtesy of the Synthetic Turf Counsel.