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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 12 months ago

Tiny home becomes training ground for students in five trade programs

Students at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota are getting hands-on experience through the project.

You’ve heard the saying — the best gifts come in small packages. Sometimes the best gifts come in downright tiny packages.

Like the gift of opportunity CareerEdge and retired area developer Walt Eppard have given students at Sarasota’s Suncoast Technical College: the chance to build a tiny home.

Courtesy. Students in five trade programs at Suncoast Technical College are getting hands-on experience by building a tiny home.

Over the next several months, about 180 students in five trade programs will band together to construct a tiny home. Hands-on experience is important for students in the plumbing, construction, HVAC, drafting and electrical programs at the school. But during the pandemic, opportunities to work with an area nonprofit on construction sites weren’t feasible due to social distancing concerns.

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, the workforce development initiative of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and STC came together to find another way for the students to gain that experience.  

“The tiny home project became part of the conversation with instructors and leaders at STC,” CareerEdge Executive Vice President Mireya Eavey tells Coffee Talk. “This was another way to have that hands-on experience for the students, but at the same time, they build something that then can be used after the fact.”

Once finished, the tiny home will sit on a trailer and travel to elementary and middle school students as a way to tell them about careers in the trades and construction. “We can utilize it for years to come,” Eavey says. 

The tiny house program is a partnership with CareerEdge, the Eppard Family Foundation and Walt Eppard, who offered financial support for the program. “He just believes in the trades and construction and helping students and individuals and really that need to get that experience,” Eavey says. Material costs for the project will amount to about $40,000, she says.

Students have started work on the framing of the tiny home and will continue building it throughout the 2020-21 school year. “They’re going to see a finished product when they’re done with it,” says Eavey. “Once the students build this tiny home, I have a feeling that others will want to build this, too.”

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