Title: Abstracting biology for engineering design

Authors: Jacquelyn K.S. Nagel, Robert L. Nagel, Robert B. Stone

Addresses: James Madison University, 801 Carrier Drive, MSC 4113, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, USA. ' James Madison University, 801 Carrier Drive, MSC 4113, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, USA. ' 204 Rogers Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

Abstract: The natural world provides numerous cases for analogy and inspiration in engineering design. Biological organisms, phenomena and strategies provide insight into sustainable and adaptable design and offer engineers billions of years of valuable experience, which can be used to inspire engineering innovation. This research presents an approach that may be used for repeatable functional model generation of biological organisms at multiple levels of abstraction, and discusses how biological functional models afford designers a systematic approach to biology-inspired design. The functional model representation translates the biological information into an engineering context enabling engineering designers with varying biological knowledge, but a common understanding of engineering design methods, to utilise biology for design inspiration. Thus, the biological information is accessible to designers. An example of lichen is provided to illustrate the multiple levels of abstraction of biological functional models.

Keywords: biology-inspired design; biomimicry; abstraction; engineering design; functional modelling; analogical reasoning; modelling biology; nature in design; biomimetics; nature-inspired design; bio-inspired design; lichens; biological functional models.

DOI: 10.1504/IJDE.2011.041407

International Journal of Design Engineering, 2011 Vol.4 No.1, pp.23 - 40

Published online: 21 Jul 2011 *

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