Gayle Lee

Gayle Lee

Master of Creative Technologies student
Bachelor of Creative Technologies

She has always been interested in making and creating things, says Gayle Lee who came to AUT to study a Bachelor of Creative Technologies and is now enrolled in a Master of Creative Technologies.

“I took hard tech in high school, and was looking for something that enabled me to continue to nurture this passion. It was a happy accident that I found the Bachelor of Creative Technologies. I had first received an engineering scholarship from AUT, however I felt that the Bachelor of Creative Technologies was more what I wanted to explore.

“I’d recommend AUT’s creative technologies programmes to anyone interested in designing, creating, problem-solving, tinkering and discussing current and future issues in the world. This degree gives you the space, facilities and wealth of knowledge from staff to explore your ideas, while learning the appropriate skills to develop your ideas into successes; whether that be as a concept, a prototype or a business.”

While she had plenty of highpoints throughout her studies, becoming a finalist in the global Lexus Design Award competition for one of her uni projects was a standout.

“The project was one my classmate Jessica Vea and myself had designed as part of the creative technologies studio course. ‘Heartfelt’ started off as a re-imagination of what a virtual hug could be as at the time many needed to be isolated from their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hoped that our device would bring some comfort to people through the sharing of your heartbeat via visual and tactile cues such as light, warmth and haptics.

“By taking part in the competition, we had the opportunity to speak to famous designers, create a proper working prototype as well as exhibit our work in Tokyo along with the other amazing finalists from around the world. We got a taste of what it’s like to apply what we had learnt in creative technologies to something real, and that was an amazing experience to have.”

Eye-opening insights
To gain as much experience as possible, the duo also decided to enter AUT’s X Challenge entrepreneurship competition with ‘Heartfelt’; an experience that proved to be another highlight for Gayle.

“Because we were in our last year in the Bachelor of Creative Technologies when we were working on ‘Heartfelt’, we wanted to go all out with learning as much as we could. We decided to enter the Accelerator part of the X Challenge as we wanted to learn about the business side of creating a product as we had already covered the design and prototyping side as part of our degree.

“We learned lots from experience but what has stuck with me most was learning how to effectively pitch your work and put together a proposal as well as learning about some of the financials required when starting your own venture. It was also awesome that we were able to get lots of feedback and mentorship from people knowledgeable in this field. It was definitely eye-opening to see the amount of work required to create a business from an idea, and I feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity and am proud that ‘Heartfelt’ was able to receive the X Challenge judges’ prize.”

She would encourage other students to take part in opportunities like this while studying at AUT.

“My advice is to be flexible and enjoy exploring opportunities and things that interest you. University isn't just for studying; it's also a place to connect and network with other people.”

Exploring further with postgrad study
After completing her Bachelor of Creative Technologies at the end of 2020, Gayle decided to continue her studies and take on a Master of Creative Technologies.

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic I wanted to upskill myself further, and I could see that postgraduate study would also give me the opportunity to hone in on what I’m really passionate about, while still having the support of the university. My master’s degree has given me the time to think and explore more, and has also given me the chance to become a teaching assistant. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping students develop their own ideas into something great.”

For her Master of Creative Technologies research, she is focusing on the meaning within designs, specifically in the area of cognitive science and how that meaning can be translated from one medium to another.

“Currently, my study has led me to make objects from a common expression or metaphor, in a sense ‘tangibilizing the intangible’. I chose this topic because I’ve always loved designing things, me being the ‘ideas person’ usually, and so I wanted to explore this area more of how designers think when ideating. It has only been through the research process that the topic has finally led me to language and object design. The research also helped me reflect on myself as a designer, and also on my culture, as my research incorporates both English, Chinese and Teochew sayings.

“My supervisors are the amazing Professor Frances Joseph and Professor Ricardo Sosa who are both part of the creative technologies staff. They have been a great help with guiding my process as well as instilling the confidence I needed to continue this research.”

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