Biologically-inspired design: A unique multidisciplinary design model

Brent Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many natural organisms have developed and adapted solutions to technical challenges that are similar to those encountered in the engineering world, including developing hard and tough materials, optimizing the division of labor and resources, maintaining constant temperature, and generating efficient propulsion in air and water. Biologically-inspired design (BID) refers to applying such natural solutions to generate innovative design solutions for human-encountered technical challenges. Such design is inherently multidisciplinary, bringing together disciplines both from engineering and the sciences. This article reports on ethnographic studies of multidisciplinary student design teams and a multidisciplinary team of educators in a senior-level undergraduate BID class offered at our institution. The most significant challenges came at the administrative level of the course among the multidisciplinary educators rather than among the multidisciplinary students. Differing perceptions about design and failure to collaborate as a multidisciplinary team among the educators led to unanticipated challenges during the administration of the course. The potential for discipline-specific views about design is identified as is the need for multidisciplinary educators to work together as a team both in defining the goals of a course as well as in advising students in the course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2008
Event2008 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Pittsburg, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2008Jun 24 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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