QUT Design Students Mentor Future Social Innovators

There's no doubt that during your lifetime you've come across inspiring leaders and teachers who have dramatically impacted your mindset and positively shaped the way your life has unfolded. Jump Start engages with university student mentors in order to provide advice, inspiration and real life examples for high schoolers involved in the program. Recently, QUT design student Rachel Stevens visited Jump Start. She shares her interesting account below.


As a second year student studying Industrial Design at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) we often have the opportunity to meet and talk with industry professionals. Tom Allen gave a presentation earlier this year which followed his progression as a designer, and it was here that I first heard about the Jump Start program. Growing up with seven brother and sisters meant that I was no stranger to high school aged children and a number of weeks later I found my self giving a talk through Jump Start, on my own progression as a design student.

Rachel leading the class through activities that encourage creativity.

Rachel leading the class through activities that encourage creativity.

Tom and I spent the day working with two different classes, both of which I opened with a 15 minute talk. Speaking a little bit about my own high school experience I wanted to let them know that it's ok to not be certain of your career path at 13 years old. For many, learning about, and understanding passions or interests seems to be far more useful, something the program itself is already working to uncover. Supporting this personal discovery I also spoke of my own travel experiences through both Europe and South East Asia. It was my aim to show what an incredible education travel can be, something that my current degree is encouraging through exchange and study tour programs. After a quick creative exercise to give everyones mind a break we got into the degree itself. What do we do? What are the pros and cons? Why do I love it? All of these where followed up with some really great questions from the students and it was so exciting to see how many of them were really engaging with design.

The Double Diamond Design Process

The Double Diamond Design Process

After the presentation it was the students turn to present their own work for the term. I was really interested to see them following the same double diamond design process that I also use in projects for my own degree. Their development of research, lead clearly to the identification of relevant problems with subsequent 'how might we?' statements providing a good foundation for their divergent development stage. It was great to see them really understanding and following this design process which I understand to be a crucial platform for good design.

For me there was a number of reasons I wanted to be a part of the Jump Start program. The major one however was using this as an opportunity to hopefully inspire other students to follow their own passion in design. I feel like industrial design is still so poorly understood and often goes unnoticed especially by students sifting through university degrees in QTAC handbooks. Personally I had very little idea what industrial design was, and applied more so due to the societal pressure to attend university rather than under an informed decision. Now, two years into the degree I can’t imagine doing anything else and am excited everyday for the opportunities ahead.

Amongst so many other incredible learning outcomes such as developing design thinking, teamwork skills, confidence in public speaking or even boosting creativity, I think that Jump Start is bridging this gap between high school and university.

I believe giving these students the opportunity to learn about design now will send more of them into an industry where their true passions lie.

Rachel Stevens.