Online Industry Partnerships at Scale: Interview with Jan Bruggemeier

RIIPEN feedback

RMIT has engaged RIIPEN, a company based in Canada, to provide introductions to companies for the purpose of providing our educators with industry projects their students can do online. One of the best success stories using RIIPEN so far is the effort of Jan Bruggemeier and his team with the project Strategic Storytelling and Creative Content. This was delivered as a 2 week intensive with 120 students, the largest cohort RMIT has managed so far.

Students from Professional Communication and Communication Design at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) were able to work in small interdisciplinary teams on communication projects for a range of Canadian companies through a global Industry Partnered Online Learning activity organised in conjunction with Global Experience. SIM students undertaking their two-week intensive were connected with these companies through the RMIT partner platform RIIPEN.

Four projects from across three companies were sourced for students to work with 10Net Focus, Bad Dad Tea and the Women’s Economic Council. The students formed interdisciplinary groups across the disciplines of Advertising, Public Relations and Communication Design, through the development of short elevator style pitches. Despite the challenges of working in an intensive mode and receiving client feedback within tight timeframes, the students were able to produce innovative communication solutions to fit their client’s brief. This project enabled the students to gain valuable experience in working remotely with a global client, while negotiating team dynamics and conflict management.

One of the factors we have noticed determines success in attracting industry partners is the effort put in to writing the course description. Jan’s course description is a model that we like to share with others writing their description on RIIPEN for the first time. Jan’s course had 1265 views from industry partners on RIIPEN more than any of the RMIT course descriptions so far. We decided to interview Jan to find out more about what worked and how the experience could be improved.



“We run client-based studios which are usually sourced through our own contacts or school contacts, and we have a stronger connection with them as a result. We like to keep our contacts close. A challenge with RIIPEN is that the companies’ primary connection is with RIIPEN. There is a feeling of less control in not having a face to face relationship. So success depends a lot on the personality of the academic, and not all academics are up for feeling that out of control.

We had one client drop out of our 4 clients. This happens in projects regardless of where they are sourced from – it wasn’t a personal thing. We also had an issue with feedback time where one client took a week to respond. This was despite our requirements for regular contact being written into the company conditions.  Again this is normal and although inconvenient it is a good thing for students to experience. ‘Flaky’ contacts are always a risk even with our personal and school contacts.

Platform feedback

“Some of the company contacts are startups as sole operators, and it is worth being aware of the risks for this. One of our staff feared that her feedback ratings might be impacted by the client’s bad behaviour. It is unclear who can see the feedback function. One company did not want to give feedback to one with all other groups seeing that. However the feedback we received was positive. All clients and their project offerings are visible on the platform so it makes it easy to see and choose. RIIPEN offers a nice variety of companies, from corporations to not for profits. This is really helpful as we had no contacts in Singapore and needed to find something quickly as we transitioned to online.

The RIIPEN platform is good, but some features are a bit annoying. Often clients aren’t as familiar with the platform and we ended up having to teach the clients how to use it, where that is RIIPEN’s job. We started working around the platform as a result. Some clients only had one staff member on RIIPEN, so a problem arose as to how we could communicate with everyone in the company via the platform. The service from RIIPEN is amazing, they are really responsive. It was great to have the opportunity to work with professionals in North America.

Advice for doing RIIPEN at scale

“You need to have enough different clients (for example 5-6 projects per client with groups of 4). Client feedback turnaround time needs to be factored in, and you need to be aware of public holidays in both locations. It would also be good to celebrate project outcomes, potentially with some sort of award event, or to have the students and their projects featured on the RIIPEN/client’s website.”

If you are interested to take part in a virtual exchange with one of RMIT’s partner universities around the world check out Global Experiences at RMIT or contact the RMIT Global Experiences at team at

RMIT Students’ Success on Niagara Falls Project

lunch scene

Property evaluation students in the RMIT School of Property, Construction and Project Management were able to apply their university knowledge to new contexts and build valuable industry connections through an Industry Partnered Online Learning activity organised through Global Experience. Students from both the postgraduate and undergraduate degrees were connected with Canadian developer Times Group Corporation through RMIT partner Riipen, an online collaboration platform which links university courses and industry partners. Times Group Corporation is a well-established family-run company with over 35 years of experience in the property development and management industry, based in Toronto, Canada. They tasked the students with writing an evaluation report on a property in the city of Niagara Falls, thousands of kilometres away from the students themselves. The report would help Times Group Corporation in pricing and determining the unit mix of the one-of-a-kind development in its area.

Shadi, Vice president of Times Group Corporation, recognised that the job she put to the students was no easy feat. She said that the pricing and determining of the unit mix of the building required in-depth analysis and strong understanding of the real estate market, noting that no one locally had the scope of knowledge necessary to complete the task. Times Group Corporation was glad that RMIT students halfway across the globe were up for the challenge, and they were curious to see what the students would come up with, as “to price a project in an area where there is no data to do analysis you need to come up with creative ways of approaching the problem.” After posting a call-out on Riipen and being connected with RMIT Lecturer Judith Callanan and her students, the company provided the initial information required for analysis and then eagerly awaited the findings.

Rising to the challenge, the students split into two teams to produce two distinct reports. Student Ryan Resurrection said he “poured in months of necessary research” in order to collect enough data to accurately define parameters such as the unit type, size, suite mix and price. Combining this with Canada’s regional economic data, Ryan and his teammate Jordan Huber were able to determine what the vacation property market was ready to absorb in an area where data for similar developments were sparse. Classmate Matthew Veitch was in charge of collating this information to create “an in-depth financial analysis” that would turn out to be of great use for Times Group. Ryan found that “working on a real deliverable project made schoolwork exponentially more interesting” and it gave him the opportunity to practice using industry-standard development software. Teammate Thomas Key agrees, saying the collaboration “solidified” what he learnt in earlier courses. He also noted that due to this development being in an unfamiliar location, it exposed him to new ways of thinking and applying familiar concepts. Overall, they found the task challenging, but were highly motivated by the fact that it would have a real-world application and be implemented by a prestigious international industry member.

When the report was submitted through Riipen, Shadi and her colleagues were highly impressed with the RMIT students, saying it was “superior in quality” when compared to high industry standards.  Shadi appreciated the amount of work that had gone into the Property Evaluation and how the students “took a pivot matrix and moved it around.” The company could barely believe that this work was completed by university students with little professional experience.

A few months later in February 2020, when on a business trip to Australia, Shadi flew to Melbourne to have lunch with the students with whose work she was so highly impressed. She was pleased to inform the students that their analysis “had the potential of assisting Times Group Corporation with the bottom line” and provided detailed notes on their findings. Thomas was also thankful for the advice that Shadi gave them on another project they were working on and felt the meeting really solidified the professional connection they were building. The lunch was a great way to celebrate the hard work put in and discuss future career aspirations.

On RMIT’s Riipen page the review Shadi left on behalf of Times Group reads simply, “excellent experience all around.” The company rated RMIT’s professionalism, communication and preparedness highly and noted that the students were always accommodating in working around time zones.

This project, and the positive experience Shadi had with RMIT, has paved the way for future collaborations in other courses such as Professional Writing and Editing, and Professional Communications. The test of any good service, Shadi says she would work with these RMIT students again if she were faced with a similar project.

The students also say it was a great foot in the door and are proud to be able to list this experience on their resumes as they begin their careers. Ryan remains hopeful that this interaction may “open up international doors in the future.” Further to this, Thomas notes that the team building and connections he has made with other students may be the most valuable asset he gained from the experience. Working on a large-scale luxury development in Niagara falls is certainly an experience from which the RMIT students will benefit, and remember well into the future.