Dr Laura Hay


Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management

Personal statement

Laura is a Lecturer in Product Design, with expertise spanning both product and engineering design. Her research explores the neurocognitive basis of design, with a long term vision focused on integrating the imagination with technology to provide more effective and intuitive tools for designers.

She has applied fMRI to study brain activity in design ideation, and investigates design cognition using a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches. She currently supervises four PhD students working in the design cognition area. She collaborates closely with psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists, and leads an international Special Interest Group on Cognitive Design Science within the Design Society. She co-founded and edits the Research Notes collection on design research quality at Design Studies, is on the editorial advisory board at the International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, and is on the scientific committee for four international design conferences. In addition to design cognition and neural processing, she has interests in systems design and sustainability stemming from her PhD research.

Laura is a member of the EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research, and is passionate about raising the profile of Scottish and UK design internationally. She is committed to equipping the next generation of designers with the skills and mindset needed to tackle complex societal challenges. She teaches foundational product design, emotional design, form and aesthetics, and systems thinking, and has supervised over 50 student design and Masters research projects. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Do you see what I see? Exploring vividness of visual mental imagery in product design ideation
Hart E, Hay L
17th International DESIGN Conference, pp. 881-890 (2022)
Interaction and perception of interaction with 3D objects during design activities
Vuletic T, Duffy A, McTeague C, Hay L, Campbell G, Grealy M
, pp. 951-960 (2022)
Editorial : design research notes
Cash Philip, Daalhuizen Jaap, Hay Laura
Design Studies Vol 78 (2022)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in design studies : methodological considerations, challenges, and recommendations
Hay L, Duffy AHB, Gilbert SJ, Grealy MA
Design Studies Vol 78 (2022)
An architectural description for the application of MBSE in complex systems
Odukoya Adebowale, Whitfield Ian, Hay Laura, Harrison Neil, Robb Malcolm
7th IEEE International Symposium on Systems Engineering (2021)
ValueD : a model of cognitive value determination in design
Reber M, Duffy A H B, Hay L, Whitfield R I
Journal of Engineering Design Vol 32, pp. 449-477 (2021)

More publications

Research interests

Laura's main research interests include: 

  • design cognition
  • neuroscience in design
  • creativity
  • design theory and ontology
  • systems design
  • sustainable design

Professional activities

Design Computing and Cognition '22
17th International DESIGN Conference
17th International DESIGN Conference
Design Research Society Conference 2022
Member of programme committee
32nd CIRP DESIGN Conference
Member of programme committee
EPSRC Early-Career Forum in Manufacturing Research (External organisation)

More professional activities


Doctoral Training Partnership 2020-2021 University of Strathclyde | Kearney, Thomas
Hay, Laura (Principal Investigator) Rodgers, Paul (Co-investigator) Kearney, Thomas (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 01-Jan-2025
Doctoral Training Partnership 2020-2021 University of Strathclyde | Macfie, Rebecca
Hay, Laura (Principal Investigator) Rodgers, Paul (Co-investigator) Macfie, Rebecca (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 01-Jan-2025
Doctoral Training Partnership 2020-2021 University of Strathclyde | Lawrie, Emma
Hay, Laura (Principal Investigator) Duffy, Alex (Co-investigator) Wodehouse, Andrew (Co-investigator) Lawrie, Emma (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 01-Jan-2024
Industrial CASE Account - University of Strathclyde 2018 | Odukoya, Kofoworola
Duffy, Alex (Principal Investigator) Whitfield, Ian (Principal Investigator) Hay, Laura (Co-investigator) Odukoya, Adebowale (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 01-Jan-2023
Doctoral Training Partnership (DTA - University of Strathclyde) | Campbell, Gerard
Duffy, Alex (Principal Investigator) Hay, Laura (Principal Investigator) Grealy, Madeleine (Co-investigator) Campbell, Gerard (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 05-Jan-2022
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

More projects


Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management
James Weir

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