Biomimicry + Space



The practice of biomimicry has strong supporters in NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Their work includes many notable examples of bio-inspired design that include tensegrity robots, evolved antennas, gecko grippers and sensing based on a fly’s eye. This interest became more tangible when a group at NASA Glenn Research Center started a biomimicry focused organization known as Virtual Interchange for Nature Inspired Exploration (VINE).

In October 2017, I was fortunate to attend the 2nd annual event NIEA Summit (hosted by the VINE group) to promote MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design (MASD) program. (Note: NIEA stands for the Nature-Inspired Exploration for Aerospace…so many acronyms!)

Presentations ranged from research to applications to process improvements. The MASD program had a display of past student work which included class projects and theses. I talked to a range of people who wanted to learn more about our work. Some were interested in the program itself, and others wanted to know more about the research and exploration that students had done.

There was a visit to a research center at the University of Akron, discussions with PhD students, and work group meetings. Topics of interest to us included:

  • Expansion of function based mapping (Author: Nagel)
  • Examples of work from inter-disciplinary student teams (Author: Gruber)
  • A new way to explore connections between design and nature (Author: Vincent)
  • Research into a citizen science periodic table of life entitled, “PETAL” (Authors: Shyam, et al.)

Many of the presentation are now online here.

Overall it is the best interdisciplinary biomimicry conference. The work which biomimicry groups (called “clusters”) are doing around the world will enable community building to span NASA, education and industry. The work of the systems cluster, which I am a member of, is related to efforts of the Natural Systems Working Group (NSWG) of INCOSE. The NSWG group meets virtually several times a year and is also focused on improving best practice and providing links between researchers, industry and academia.

Certificate in Biomimicry (Online)

Did you know that we now offer a non-credit Biomimicry Certificate? Learn more.

You can earn a certificate by selecting 3 of the following courses*

*Course lists and availability are subject to change based on interest and enrollments.


Image courtesy of @NASA on Unsplash.