13 August 2018

QUT alumnus Herman Rijken thought a joke was being played when he learnt that he had been awarded the 2018 Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship.

“I really didn't believe what I was being told on the phone. But the person on the other side was very adamant that I was the 2018 fellow. It still took a little time to sink in, but I was thrilled,” Herman said.

The Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship provides financial support for a school teacher to complete a project in design education at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, funded by the Queensland Government.

Herman completed the fellowship from May to June 2018 at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, where he gained experience in classroom, community and online strategies for delivering quality design education.

Herman is looking forward to bringing his learnings from New York to Far North Queensland, where he has been working as a STEM teacher since he graduated from QUT in 2002.

“The fellowship has shown to me that really, design and education are integral parts that should go hand in hand,” Herman said.

“Students should be allowed to be problem solvers and learn that every idea could potentially lead to a solution.”

“During the fellowship, I saw that design can be a transformative exercise and re-engage students if they are given the opportunity to explore all their ideas.”

Herman currently teaches at Cooktown State School, where he already applies design thinking and education in his practice.

“When students are to complete a task like design a website, an app, a robot or a science experiment, I encourage them to engage in the design process before they start to develop anything physically,” Herman said.

“I want my students to be problem solvers and design thinking is a good method to teach this.”

“Students need to feel that there isn't one correct answer and that they have the freedom to think big and wild as they want in the classroom.” 

Visit the Faculty of Education website for more information about studying education at QUT.

For more information about the Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship, visit the Queensland Government website.

QUT graduate Herman Rijken was awarded the 2018 Queensland-Cooper Hewitt Fellowship.


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