Our Students

Renée Ridgway

After completing a Bachelor of Architecture, Renée Ridgway decided to strengthen her technical skills by studying Melbourne Polytechnic’s Advanced Diploma of Building and Design.

Like many students, Renée Ridgway was encouraged to study at university when she finished secondary school. She completed a Bachelor of Architecture and then began studying the Masters of Architecture, to become a qualified architect.

“When I started the Masters I thought it would be more technical and practical, but it lacked technical emphasis and felt a bit disjointed. A friend of mine was studying the Advanced Diploma of Building and Design. I was looking at his work and it looked pretty good. So I had a chat with the teachers and liked what I saw here.”

Renee’s decision to study at TAFE was driven by a need to feel more confident in applying her skills and knowledge in the industry.

“You have to do the Masters to qualify as an architect, so I’ll probably go back and do that next year, but now I feel like I know what I’m doing much more.”

While studying the course, Renée won a Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) commendation for best response to a design brief by a student. This TAFE-wide competition invites 2nd year students to submit their design for an office.

“The teachers put it out to all the students and asked who wanted to take part. I said I’d give it a shot because I once heard an architect telling students to enter as many competitions as they can.

“I did it for the experience and didn’t think about winning. But now, when I apply for work, I can link straight to the BDAV website and they can see what I’m able to do.”

Renée hoped to develop her construction knowledge and technical skills at Melbourne Polytechnic and admits that she probably would have studied this course earlier, if she hadn’t been accepted into the Bachelor program.

“Uni was so design-based and lacking practical skill sets, but TAFE has great strengths in developing practical skills. The structure of the advanced diploma meant that everything you learned you had to apply. It’s given me a whole other suite of skills.”

Like many high school students, Renée recalls being told to aim for tertiary study when leaving school. But after studying in both contexts, she can now see the differences.

“I’ve done things a bit backwards. If I hadn’t got into the degree, I would have done the TAFE course to get into it later. But even if you can get a high enough score to get into Architecture out of school, I’d still say do this course first. Then you have the skill set to approach architecture later and you’ll get recognition of prior learning (RPL) so you don’t have to start from scratch.”

Renée found the teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic to be supportive and dedicated.

“They go above and beyond what they need to do to make sure you understand the content, even working outside of their own hours. They’re all very passionate!”

She hopes to go back to the Masters and then become a conservation architect and knows that her Melbourne Polytechnic qualifications will help her to secure a place.

“I was talking to Deakin and when I told them I had done drafting they said that with my technical background they wouldn’t hesitate in offering me a place.”

Her advice to prospective students is simple.

“Throw yourselves in!”


Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architectural), Certificate IV in Building and Construction