Biomimicry in Industrial Design for Sustainability, An Integrated Teaching-and-Learning Method

2013/08/03 attachment uploaded again - 'magically' disappeared early on August 2nd

As part of his 2009 doctoral thesis at the Graduate School of Design Research, Kobe Design University, Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos explored ways to "... develop, test, evaluate and refine an integrative and cross-disciplinary teaching method for DfS [Design for Sustainability] applicable to undergraduate ID Education. This method is based on the integrated study of nature, human society and design.  It focuses on the use of biomimicry, combined with ecodesign tools and theories of human needs analysis."  Attached is a summary of his thesis.

Prof. Montana Hoyos developed a theoretical model represented as a learning spiral comprised of:

  • sustainability education (intersection of human, environmental and economic development)
  • biomimicry education (intersection of nature as model, measure and mentor)
  • industrial design education (intersection of human factors, ecodesign and economic factors)

The paper reviews the history of bio-inspired design and includes a chart of various innovations based on form, function and process/system.

Two experimental workshops were developed and tested with two different groups of undergraduate students.  The first workshop implemented a "biology to human needs" design methodology in which students analyzed various natural artifacts, identified an appropriate human problem, completed an eco-analysis and developed final design solutions.  The second workshops implemented a "human needs to biology" approach in which students completed a problem and biomimetic analysis, identified potential biomimetic solutions, performed an eco-design analysis and proposed design solutions.

The paper includes examples of student projects and results of a post-workshop survey.  An additional survey was completed six months later - the results are included in the thesis but not in the summary.  Although students found the concepts and methods difficult to comprehend and time-consuming to implement, the results suggested that the approach "... can be a useful tool to enhance cross-disciplinary undergraduate research and motivate creative and critical thinking abilities in the students".  The workshops significantly increased interest in awareness and sustainability relating to industrial design.  Students found the "human needs to biology" approach more difficult but was more relevant to real-world design challenges than the "human needs to biology" approach.

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