When faced with a thorny problem that demanded space for equations and sketches, Aubrey May’s (BSCE ’58, MSCE ’60) preferred outlet wasn’t a doodle pad or a spiral notebook— especially since inspiration sometimes struck at the dinner table. “Napkins,” says his wife, Karen, with a smile. “He would whip out his pen and show me how he was going to x a wall that was caving in. Some jobs used up a lot of napkins!” For Aubrey, the challenges, details and creativity that civil engineering required brought him enjoyment which was imprinted on those napkins.
Eventually, Aubrey’s drawings became buildings, roads and bridges. He joined the consulting civil engineering rm of Fuller, Mossbarger, and Scott in 1971 and became vice president in 1973. In just under 30 years, Fuller, Mossbarger, Scott and May grew from a dozen people to 250 employees. He retired in 2000. He was inducted into the college’s Hall of Distinction in 2004. In 2015, he passed away having experienced a successful career and a full life as a husband, father, grandfather and friend.
It might not have been so. The odds were not in his favor growing up in Pike County, Ky., where career opportunities were very limited. Fortunately, he received a scholarship from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which was his ticket to the University of Kentucky College of Engineering.
Aubrey’s career consisted of service and leadership to professional engineering organizations: KSPE, KSCE and KCEC to mention a few. He received many honors and awards from these groups and from the UK College of Engineering. Aubrey was proud to serve two terms on the Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. He took great pleasure mentoring young engineers.
Following his wishes, Karen has established the Aubrey Donald May Scholarship Fund. The endowment will generate scholarships for civil engineering students who have unmet financial needs and express an interest in the college’s University Scholars program, which allows participants to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ve years. Students must be Kentucky residents and preference will be given to attendees from eastern Kentucky counties. The first scholarships will be awarded for the fall semester.
“This is his legacy,” says Karen. “Aubrey credited UK for giving him the tools to do what he loved and give him a good life. He wanted to pass that opportunity on to others.”
Perhaps future Aubrey May scholars will be given a package of napkins as a symbolic reminder of their benefactor. As his life shows, they come in handy when one is brimming with inspiration, remembrance and gratitude.