From a dodgy Ferrari to an Outstanding Graduate prize.

Brock’s designing a bright future for himself.
Brock’s designing a bright future for himself.

Architecture student Brock Wilson Hetherington was enthusiastic about design from a young age. “When I was a kid,” he says, “I used to draw a lot of cars. That was my thing. I’d draw these cars and send them off to people. When I was seven, I sent off a Ferrari concept car to the chief designer, Donato Coco. And he responded! He sent me a bunch of Ferrari stuff. I still have a flag he sent.” Brock laughs looking back at his early efforts. “I vaguely remember my concept Ferrari, but mainly because it was so bad. I did a lot of cars back then and they were awful, but I was a kid.”

Getting a feel for architecture
His design skills have come on a lot since those days. Brock recently distinguished himself by winning the UTS College Outstanding Graduate Prize for achieving the highest grade-point-average (GPA) in the Diploma of Design and Architecture. Now studying Bachelor of Design in Architecture at UTS, he’s glad he chose to begin his studies at UTS College. He says, “When I was looking into architecture courses, I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to a full undergraduate right away. That was part of why I wanted to start at UTS College. It had a very clear pathway to UTS, so if I liked and did well, I’d be able to keep going, and I could get a feel for architecture.”

An itch to go back to school
Brock is originally from Vancouver, Canada, where he completed high school before taking a six-year break from study. “When I graduated high school, I hadn’t done well, and I don’t think I had any respect for what I was learning. After that I travelled a bit. Mostly I was working on music. I went to a recording school and did an audio-engineering diploma and plugged away at trying to become a career artist, which is super difficult. I think it takes the fun out of making music.”

He still writes and plays music, and says he enjoys it more now, without the pressures of trying to survive as a performing artist. “Then I had this itch to go back to school,” he says. “I also wanted to travel because I’d lived in Vancouver my whole life, so studying abroad was really attractive. But I wanted to study somewhere they taught in English – a foreign-speaking country would be too stressful. So, Australia was pretty much the only place I’d considered. I also wanted beaches a hot weather. Vancouver’s cold.”

Finding a pathway to UTS
UTS was at the top of Brock’s list. “It had a different reputation – it was younger, and the design department was impressive. It seemed like a better fit for me. Then when I saw they had a pathway program, it was a no-brainer,” he says. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and closed borders meant Brock didn’t get to Australia as soon as he would have liked. “For the first two semesters I was still in Canada, studying online,” he says. “So, getting here in person was a highlight. It was cool. All of my time was focusing on studio work, and I made new friends and got on really well with my teachers. I felt immersed in making stuff and that’s such a cool feeling.”

Advantages of Learning.Connected
Brock also appreciated Learning.Connected, the new model of learning at UTS College. He says, “No-one wants to sit through lectures. It’s hard to retain any information. The more hands-on approach is just better. I like the idea of an approach that shifts more responsibility onto the learner.” UTS College suited Brock in many ways, especially after a fairly long break from formal study. “When I started studying here and doing well, it felt like validation,” he says. “It was exciting for me – just this boost in confidence. I had a goal to undertake something academic and do well, and UTS College helped me understand that I could do it.”

In the thick of things
Now that he’s achieved his goal of moving on to UTS, Brock’s excited about being on campus full-time. He says, “I’ve been looking forward to it a lot, even if I’m a little bit nervous. I’m still learning how things work here, compared to UTS College.” He’s also enjoying the unique campus buildings. “I love the Gehry building. I used to walk there and look around after classes at UTS College because it was so close. It’s a super wonky building and I love it for that. And I like the library. I spend a lot of time there,” he says. “The architecture building is pretty cool too. I hadn’t really explored it before, but now I have a lot of classes in there. To be honest, that’s another reason I chose UTS. All the architecture on campus is so good. It’s a great campus to walk around on and I love how it has more of a downtown feel. It feels like you’re right in the thick of things.”

Sydney life suits Brock well so far, and he’s explored a lot of the city on foot. He says, “I don’t have a car, and I’ve never taken transit here. If I want to go somewhere I walk mostly or take an Uber. In my free time at home, I mainly make music. It takes up a lot of my time – a good day of writing can be eight or twelve hours. I was writing yesterday. I've written four songs the last couple weeks. I'm still pretty active. I also play chess online. I paint and draw too, but not as frequently as writing music. Of course, I also like to watch TV – cartoons and that sort of thing.”

Don’t be scared to ask questions
Brock is happy to recommend UTS College to other students interested in architecture. “The pathway course is honestly such a great idea,” he says. “It gets you thinking about architecture straight away.” If he has one piece of advice, it’s this: “Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot. If you have a question, just ask it. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to learn anything outside the brief. If you want to do really well, it’s important to look past just doing what you need to get by. That’s the best advice I can think of.”