Dr Laura Hay


Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management

Personal statement

I am a Lecturer in Product Design, with six years of research experience in the domains of product design, engineering design, and technical systems. I am currently Project Manager on a multidisciplinary EPSRC-funded project exploring the cognitive basis of creative conceptual design, and spent 3 years as a Research Associate on the project prior to my current post. This research forms part of a long term vision focused on integrating the human imagination with technology to provide more effective and intuitive tools for designers. In collaboration with colleagues in design and cognitive science, I apply a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques to study the cognitive processes involved in conceptual design.

I have published in and review for several international journals, and have actively participated in international conferences as an author, an invited speaker, and an invited committee member. I teach and assess product design and engineering design at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and supervise postgraduate dissertation projects. I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in 2017. I work closely with product designers in industry to conduct empirical work that will advance design research and practice, and have delivered lectures and workshops for industrialists in the area of sustainable products and systems.


Has expertise in:

    Research areas:

    • design cognition and creativity
    • product & engineering design (process and artefact)
    • sustainability modelling and performance assessment

    Research methods & techniques:

    • ideation performance assessment
    • cognitive experiments
    • qualitative/inductive coding
    • structured and unstructured interviews
    • questionnaires
    • case studies
    • IDEF0 modelling

    I have published in Design Science, the Journal of Engineering Design, Systems Engineering, Brain & Behavior, the Journal of Environmental Management, and Computers in Industry. I have also reviewed for the first three of these journals.

    I am a member of the Advisory Board (2016, 2018) for the International Conference on Design Computing and Cognition (DCC), and was a member of the Scientific Committee for the International Conference on Design Creativity 2017. I initiated, proposed, and am co-chair of a workshop on 'Measuring design cognition' to be held at DCC 2018, and was an invited programme committee member and session chair for a workshop on 'Advances in Cognitive Studies of Design' at DCC 2016. In 2015, I was an invited participant in a keynote panel discussion alongside three others at the 20th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED).

Prizes and awards

Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Awards nomination
Member of the Institution of Engineering Designers (MIED)
DESIGN Conference - outstanding contribution
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
A0 poster presentation runner-up prize

more prizes and awards


I obtained my PhD from the University of Strathclyde in 2015, contributing the first general model of technical systems sustainability (the S-Cycle) and a novel, generic approach for sustainability assessment and improvement in engineering design. I also hold a first class Bachelor degree in Product Design Engineering from Strathclyde, and am a named inventor on a patent resulting from one of my undergraduate projects. I was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in 2017.


The neural correlates of ideation in product design engineering practitioners
Hay L, Duffy A H B, Gilbert S J, Lyall L, Campbell G, Coyle D, Grealy M A
Design Science Vol 5 (2019)
ImagineD : a vision for cognitive driven creative design
Duffy Alex, Hay Laura, Grealy Madeleine, Vuletic Tijana
30th Anniversary Heron Island Conference on Computational and Cognitive Models of Creativity (2019)
Systematic literature review of hand gestures used in human computer interaction interfaces
Vuletic Tijana, Duffy Alex, Hay Laura, McTeague Chris, Campbell Gerard, Grealy Madeleine
International Journal of Human Computer Studies Vol 129, pp. 74-94 (2019)
A novel systematic approach for analysing exploratory design ideation
Hay L, Duffy A H B, Grealy M, Tahsiri M, McTeague C, Vuletic T
Journal of Engineering Design, pp. 1-23 (2019)
Axioms of value
Reber Michael, Duffy Alexander, Hay Laura
ICED19 (2019)
The novelty perspectives framework : a new conceptualisation of novelty for cognitive design studies
Hay Laura, Duffy Alexander, Grealy Madeleine
ICED19, pp. 389-398 (2019)

more publications

Research interests

My current interests lie primarily in design cognition, creativity, design evaluation, design theory and ontology, systems modelling, and sustainability.

Professional activities

ImagineD: A new vision for cognitive driven creative design
30th Anniversary Heron Island Conference on Computational and Cognitive Models of Creativity
Curiosity Live
16th International Design Conference 2020 (Event)
Advisory Board Member
16th International Design Conference 2020
Member of programme committee
International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation (Journal)
Editorial board member

more professional activities


Feasibility of cognitive based Computer Aided Engineering Design (CAED)
Duffy, Alex (Principal Investigator) Grealy, Madeleine (Co-investigator) Hay, Laura (Researcher) Pidgeon, Laura (Researcher)
"Currently, both commercial and state-of-the-art Computer Aided Engineering Design (CAED) systems are limited in how intuitive and conducive they are to the engineering design process. They are continually advancing but in an incremental fashion and doing so by adapting to established design processes. This research aims to look at engineering design from a radically different perspective. The aim is to investigate the feasibility of brain controlled CAED through identifying critical areas of the brain that are active during ideation in engineering design, and evaluating the feasibility of technology development, and its use, in controlling CAED systems using a direct Brain-Controlled Interface (BCI); surpassing the traditional CAED approach of mouse and keyboard interaction. Achieving this requires knowledge of the patterns of neural activation within the brain during creative engineering design, capabilities for development of CAED systems to reflect a new way of working, and incorporating a direct interaction between the human brain and CAED system. It should be noted that creativity is a difficult term to define, having different implications in a variety of different fields. In this research project, creativity is defined in the context of engineering design and the creative tasks undertaken in the processes within design, in particular ideation.

In order to map the activity of the brain during cognitive design tasks both cognitive and cognitive neuroscience scientists and engineering design academics need to be involved in experiment design, implementation and analysis, and the subsequent exploration of the feasibility of the practical implementation of the findings. We first must define the cognitive design processes to be examined and then create appropriate experimental tasks in which the defined cognitive design processes are clearly demonstrated by experienced designers. The patterns of brain activation will be recorded when practising designers perform the defined tasks in order to identify the responding areas of the brain. Understanding and assessing the feasibility of cognitive controlled CAED will provide is with the foundation to test the use of Brain Controlled Interface (BCI) controlled CAED.

By performing this inter-disciplinary research a new field will be created that incorporates cognitive science, engineering design, neuroscience and BCI in order to change the way ideation design is both perceived and performed, and in the process will open up new avenues for future research. The feasibility of this could initiate studies in a multitude of combined engineering design, CAED and BCI studies as well as input to other BCI developments in general.

CAED applications could become accessible to the physically impaired, help people enter the work force, reducing care costs, and enhancing self-worth and perhaps also allowing the ageing population to work later in life. The ways in which brain control interfaces could be used may also impact on the way that the general public considers interacting with technology. An understanding of the areas of the brain activated during specific CAED tasks will contribute to brain mapping currently being built by research programmes worldwide. Designers interested in new ways of designing will be able to gain knowledge of BCI capabilities for CAED using outputs on the potential role of BCI in CAED. Designers and researchers will learn about the brain processes involved in design tasks and the capabilities and limitations of using neuroscience to enhance design activities. The underlining idea of the research is that in the future anyone could be a designer creating ideas within a CAD system, giving a new dimension to crowdsourcing and enabling people without specific design skills to embody their thoughts."
01-Jan-2015 - 31-Jan-2020
Generic models of technical systems sustainability
Hay, Laura (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2011 - 29-Jan-2014

more projects


Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management
James Weir Building

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