He wants his students to become independent thinkers

Dr Garry Tan (fourth from right) in consultation with his students


Meet Garry Tan, a senior lecturer who teaches Product Design at NYP.


Garry began teaching at NYP in 1999 because he wanted to help develop Singapore’s creative industry. He is thankful that he can continue to be both an educator and a designer, thanks to NYP’s dual-track career policy.


Driven by a passion for industrial and consumer product design, Garry spends his time meticulously tailoring his teaching methods according to the needs of his students.


Having met Garry, we found him friendly and extremely humble. Garry is also a concerned Personal Mentor (PEM) who wants all his mentees to perform at their best during their course of study. He enjoys a good chat with alumni over a meal when they visit.


His positive and dedicated spirit definitely shines through his former students, who have been enthusiastic in giving back to NYP. They often provide feedback on how to improve the industrial design programme and come back to share their experiences with current students.


We quizzed him on his teaching experiences.  


What is your teaching philosophy?

My aim in teaching is to educate industrial design students and assist them in crafting a meaningful career within and beyond the design industry. I want my students to understand that the industry values quality work and practicality. For the advanced learners in my class, I try to create a self-directed learning approach that encourages them to become independent thinkers. I also try to create a hybrid learning experience for my students, combining online digital media with classroom learning, which helps hands-on learners to learn faster.


Recount one touching/memorable incident involving a student/students you taught.

There have been many memorable teaching moments in NYP. The most recent involves recommending a book on building relationships to a graduating industrial design student.  It was something I did naturally as part of teaching.  As such, I was pleasantly surprised when he wrote back to thank me for the recommendation. Also, he shared his intentions to take up undergraduate studies in both design and business with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, and his plans to start up a social enterprise to attend to the needs of the poor in Singapore.  Looking back, I realise that there is nothing too small that we can do for our students to give them a head start.


What is one thing most people do not know about you?

Not many people know that I’ve lost my father when I was 3 years-old. It was on Christmas Day. It is painful recalling how my mother had to go through the experience. I now use this as a reminder to develop empathy and to appreciate another person’s perspectives on things.  Till today, I am amazed at my mother’s strength and resilience.  I guess you can say that she is my role model in life.