Designing the future on Lincoln Road

Growlight summer camp is taking over Lincoln Road with 3D printed designs and innovative urban ideas. And it’s all being done by high school students from all over Miami-Dade County.

For its third year, Breakthrough Miami partnered with Florida International University’s Architecture School and hosted 15 students for a four-week program, which focuses on urbanism, design, technology and public policy.  

The camp is held at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios on Lincoln Road where students experience the area’s diverse history while learning design software programs that will help them develop a professional portfolio and a final project that’s presented to city hall.

“Our kids are smart,” said Justin Pinn, Breakthrough’s STEM and Success Academy Director. “They just don’t have access to these resources. We try to cultivate the love of learning [STEM skills] and take away the scariness of it.”  

Pinn says using 3D printers is another way of teaching students about architectural technology, how they can be entrepreneurs and working with other businesses in Miami. Students, some who had never been to Miami Beach, apply to be part of the program and receive transportation, food, and classes.

Students program the 3D printers at MBUS.

The program is taught by FIU architecture students who push Growlight participants to think about design and the way it impacts the world around them.  

“We want these kids to get the wheels turning and see the endless possibilities,” said Pinn.

This year’s final project topic is ADA Accessibility. Students met with Miami Beach Commissioners to discuss some of the city’s issues related to equal access infrastructure for people with disabilities.

The teenagers researched around Lincoln Road and Miami Beach by asking people what the area is missing or could improve on to provide an inclusive environment.

“This project is exciting because I will be able to see the real-life application of the skills I’m learning and put them into play,” said Marco Lanz, 17, a senior from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. “You need to build the best building possible and maximize the space to use it most efficiently.”  

Growlight newcomer, Lanz wants to be a civil or biomedical engineer and is already looking at different universities across Florida. He believes the skills he’s learning this summer will help start his career and help him create proposals that will improve the city and aid people with disabilities.  

“The point is to get exposure to every field,” said Sophia Cabral, 20, program instructor and FIU architect student. “Not only architects but politicians, so they can speak in front of them and present their project. Architects can be the problem solvers for the city.”  

This is the second year Cabral teaches Growlight students, alongside another FIU architecture student  William Valle Pinto, 21. He’s seen how some returning students have improved and shaped their career path thanks to the summer program.  

Renata Camiletti and Daniela Ospina show their 3D models for a bench they designed last year.

One of those students is Renata Camiletti, 16, a future 11th grader at Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami. She thinks they are privileged for having the opportunity to talk to city officials.  

“It was kind of intimidating,” recalls Camiletti about last year’s presentation. “We had all these serious adults at a big table, and we just got to talk. It was nice.”   

Renata Camiletti’s sketches from last year’s project.

Last summer, the students designed a bench for Lincoln Road. She remembers walking around the area and getting feedback from strangers on the street while getting inspired by the beach and Miami style. Camiletti and her colleague Daniela Ospina, 16, designed benches thinking of the sea.  

“When I look back to my old sketches, I see all the drafts and know that I can learn from that now,” said Ospina, who will start 11th grade at the International Studies Preparatory Academy in the fall. “This is an amazing head start to the career I want.”

By The New Tropic Creative Studio
The WhereBy.Us Creative Studio helps clients big and small engage locals, through campaigns that use creative marketing, storytelling, events, and activations to build community, conversation, and impact.