NewsHillsborough County


High school students design homes in East Tampa

Posted at 3:01 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 17:17:45-04

New houses are being built every day in Tampa, but not many of them are being designed by a group of high school students.

That’s what’s taking place in East Tampa. It’s all part of a new STEM program that’s turning students into architects.

“When they first started, I was a little nervous and didn’t think they could do it. But once they saw their plans coming together, then they got excited about it and once I saw them, I got excited about it,” said Mary Browning.

Browning’s grandson Kyler was one of 30 students to participate in the STEM Exposure Course led by instructor Robyn Donaldson.

“We were revitalizing East Tampa so we decided lets get the kids to design how they want their neighborhood to look,” said Donaldson.

Kyler said from the first sketch he had grandma in mind.

“I wanted to make everything easy and accessible for her and like since it’s a one-story floor she doesn’t have to go upstairs or anything like that and everything is on one level,” said Browning, who is a freshman at East Bay High School.

Browning said as soon as she saw the kitchen she started cooking up an idea.

“The last day of the program I said, ‘I think I want them to build me a house,’ and I said, ‘Robyn is that possible,’ and she said yes,” said Browning.

Leaders of this East Tampa community said this kind of project is exactly what this neighborhood needs more of in the future.

“Real community development is at the grass roots and what better way to have it happen from grass roots than to have our own young people involved in the process,” said Edward Johnson, Community Development Manager.

“And for these kids to get a chance to design homes and then build the home in their own community they get the full picture,” said Calvin Johnson, of the Tampa Police Dept. District 3.

The house is expected to be complete just in time for Christmas.