ENGR3235 Biomimicry

We can learn from nature! From studying a leaf to make a better solar cell to emulating natural processes to develop living buildings, the discipline of Biomimicry views nature as "model, mentor and measure" (Benyus, 1997). Spiders spin protein silk with the strength of steel yet much lighter all at ambient temperature and pressure. Cuttlefish change color to match their surroundings in milliseconds by contracting their chromatophores and even bioluminesce. In this course we will study wonders like these to appreciate the beauty and sophistication of life by investigating the biological mechanisms and functions of organisms as well as the dynamics of whole ecosystems. By examining biological systems at multiple scales, we can draw insights from understanding how they work. By collecting data, running experiments, creating models, or building prototypes, we can translate these insights into design ideas and practice. We will examine and discuss big ideas and thinking in biology and design and then synthesize and reflect on the intersection of these fields. Students will develop skills and insights through critical analysis of readings and the development of projects that draw on both fields. Biological systems have undergone 3.8 billion years of evolution, resulting in time-tested approaches to living on earth that are efficient and embody sustainability. By exploring the intersection of biology and design, we might learn to do the same.

This course is crosslisted with SCI2235. Enrollment in ENGR3235 is as design depth as projects will be focused on engineering design solutions. If advanced science credit is desired, enroll in SCI2235.