HCISD students partner with Harlingen Community Development Division to design home

Students at Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South are working with Architectural Design teacher, Emiliano Amaro, to design blueprints for the Harlingen Community Development Division.

The Architectural Design class is part of the Apprenticeship Academy at HCISD.

“This is my third year teaching here at the high school, and when I came in, I wanted to do something to help out the community and get my students involved,” Amaro said. “That way they know what it feels like to deal with customers, and they learn how the process of designing a home works.”

 Last year, Amaro spoke to the director of the Harlingen Community Development Division about the possibility of working together.

“Nothing really happened because of the whole COVID thing, but now she reached out to me to see if we were still interested,” he said.

Amaro recruited volunteers to help out with the project. Eighteen students from the Architectural Design class signed on for this project. The team is working on an Americans with Disabilities Act design to build a home for a family in the Harlingen community.

“I volunteered myself, and right now we are at the point of finishing one house plan,” Harlingen High School senior Alan Diaz said.  We sent one to the city of Harlingen and we are waiting for a response. It feels good to help out people. I really enjoy my work and what I do. I just find it useful.”

 In order to assist with this project, students must know how to operate AutoCAD, a software used by architects and engineers to design plans.

“In Principles of Architecture, they start learning the program,” Amaro said. “In Architecture 2, they are pretty familiar with the program and the commands. By the time they are seniors, they pretty much already know the codes, how to design a blueprint, and stuff like that. Architectural Design is where they start their projects for actual clients.”

Most of the students working on this design are seniors, but Arumi Hernandez from Harlingen High School is only a junior.

“I joined sophomore year and then this year,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s a great opportunity because I get to learn how to design a house and understand every detail of the floor plan.”

Hernandez hopes to pursue architecture after high school. Her ultimate goal is help design and build a house for her parents.

“My family moved into an acre, and we have been living there around a year,” she said. “I have been planning, with my brother who is already working in that area, to build a house for my parents because they have really dreamed of it.”

The students are enjoying the hands-on experience they are getting from this project.

 “I like the fact that I can design the foundation, the electrical plan, and the floor plan,” Diaz said. “You know, design things and designing for other people. It feels like I can be of use to the community, the people, and city of Harlingen. I feel like I am doing a good job continuing down that field, and I plan on working down that path.”

Through classes like Architectural Design and with the help of inspiring educators, students are discovering their passions and future careers.

“When I started taking architecture design, I really saw myself enjoying making plans and understanding how AutoCAD works,” Diaz said. “Mr. Amaro is very good at explaining how these plans work. He helps out the class, and he is just an all-around great teacher to have. After high school, I plan on continuing to go down the architectural career path. As for this project, I look forward to continuing to work with the city of Harlingen to help people with poor living conditions have a better home.”

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