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Tiny Home Project Brings Real-World Experience Directly to Campus


Practical experience is integral to learning and has been a vital component of the Building Trades and Construction Design Technology program at STC. For nine years, students worked with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations to gain real-life, hands-on, off-campus experience within the community. In 2020, COVID mandates changed everything. “I had to figure out how to incorporate real world, practical experience into a curriculum that restricted my students to remain on campus.” Instructor Nick DiLorenzo said his idea to build a tiny home on campus was the perfect solution. The only problem was funding. Nick reached out to CareerEdge, whose mission is to provide exceptional labor force to the region’s growing industries by leveraging community assets and forming high-performing workplace partnerships.

Through CareerEdge, Nick was introduced to donors, Renee and Walt Eppard. The Eppard’s generously offered to fund Nick’s project and, due to its amazing success, they have offered to fund tiny home number TWO! STC’s second tiny home is currently under construction with Nick’s program and set to become another collaborative project among several other Industrial Technology programs including Carpentry, Plumbing, Electricity, and Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration. Upon speaking with students about the project, high school senior Keanu F. said, “The tiny house has all the same basic parts, just like a regular residential house. Seeing your personal involvement makes building the structure even more memorable. You get to develop a sense of community; you start to see the challenges as well as the rewards that come alongside all the construction. The construction of any building enables a person to use both their physical and mental strengths to make it come to life.”  With no more COVID mandates, the tiny home can be transported between STC’s Sarasota Campus and its North Port Branch, ensuring all industrial students have an opportunity to be a part of the build.

In addition to students, staff, CareerEdge, and the Eppards, STC is grateful for the contributions made by Singleton Roofing, PGT, Christopher Michael Interior Design, Kimal Lumber, and Home Depot. Nick credits the project’s success to the contributions of EVERYONE involved. "I am committed to executing STC’s mission and providing students with the best quality education and the most relative to the industry. My goal is to provide students with the best opportunity for success through experience and the most up-to-date training.”

For more information about STC’s Industrial Technologies or other Career & Technical Education programs, click here or contact a school counselor at 941-924-1365 / Ext. 62283.

Article by Laurie Dillon
February 5, 2024