Paul May Photo by: paulmay.org

In Focus: Paul May - Fulbright scholar living in New York, originally from Dublin


Paul May Photo by: paulmay.org

Background: A Fulbright scholar, Paul May is an interaction designer and researcher based in New York.  Originally from Raheny, Co. Dublin, he moved here in 2010 and currently lives in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn.

What was the most intimidating thing about moving to New York?

“I came over to do a master's degree at NYU along with my wife Cliona, who is a scientist.  The most intimidating thing about moving was the cost of going to college here. It's massively expensive, so expensive that we almost didn't come. 

“I won a Fulbright award, and the money from that helped to make the whole thing possible. When we came over we only had enough money for the first year. We were winging it a little bit.”

You were the recipient of the Fulbright-Enterprise Ireland Award in Science, Technology and Innovation. Tell us about your experience as a Fulbright scholar.

“The experience of winning a Fulbright award was really special from the moment I won. I remember standing in a room with the other winners and thinking, these are the smartest people I've ever met, and they're all Irish.  Each of the winners was passionate, hard-working, creative and willing to go that extra mile -- to try something different. They gave me a lot of hope for the country's future. 

“Also, the staff at the Fulbright commission make the process of getting to the U.S. incredibly smooth, and have made themselves available on more than one occasion to offer help and advice.”

You attended Tisch School of Arts at NYU.  How was it different to your undergrad experience in Dublin City University?

“I had a fantastic time at DCU and learned an enormous amount during my time there.  At the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU I was able to take my skills in design and technology to a new level, while working alongside an amazing group of students and staff. The key difference between DCU and NYU is definitely the method of teaching.

“In DCU we were really young, and really just getting to grips with how to learn and apply our skills. At NYU we are given great instruction by the staff, but then we have a huge amount of freedom, and maybe more confidence than we did as undergrads, to create and explore on our own terms. We have workshops, tools and equipment to turn ideas into real, working, interactive products. ITP is a very special program, and I think the future of education looks a lot like the ITP experience.”

You’re work has spanned design research, computer science, strategy, writing, teaching and data visualization. What has been your most memorable project?

“For my thesis project at NYU I collaborated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer center. I worked with doctors, nurses, and patients to design an online service that encourages bone marrow transplant patients to exercise during their long and arduous treatment. The project was a really interesting blend of research, design and product development. I am really proud of the amount I was able to achieve.”

(For more information on Paul May log onto http://www.paulmay.org)


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