Biomimicry is a design discipline that seeks out sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-honored patterns and strategies. The main idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems society is currently struggling-with with-regard to energy, food production, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, and packaging. Yesterday I was in the Gallery at One Market where the 2010 Biomimicry Education Summit was being held. Autodesk was one of the sponsors of this 2 day event. This summit was first held in 2007 and has grown ever since. In fact, AskNature.org has been around since 2008.
As the summit has grown, so too has Biomimicry as an engineering discipline. This year's summit was well attended by educators who have fought the good fight to include biomimicry classes into their already crowded curriculums. These battles were always not easily won with faculty heads asking curious questions like "Why do solar cell engineers have to learn about photosynthesis?" or "Why are traffic design engineers studying slime molds and ants?"
I was fortunate enough to hear the keynote speech of Janine Benyus who is regarded as the mother of biomimicry. Janine is a biologist and author of 6 books - the most famous of which is Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. Her speech covered how nature can act as a model, a measure, and a mentor for the designs of appliances, automobiles, bridges, buildings, and everything else that is designed with Autodesk software. Her TED video, 12 sustainable ides from nature, provides a nice summary.
For more information, check out The Biomimicry Institute.
Listening when nature calls is alive in the lab.