ME 498 & IB 496: Bioinspired Design (Spring 2018)

Course Information:


  • Instructors: Dr. Aimy Wissa (MechSE) and Dr. Marianne Alleyne (SIB)
  • Meeting Time:  M,W & F 3-4 pm
  • Meeting Location: 2020 Natural History Building
  • Textbooks: A list of suggested readings will be posted on the course website
  • Course Website: TBD

Course Overview:

ME 498/IB496 offers a unique interdisciplinary advanced design experience in the field of biomimetics and bioinspiration. During the course we will cover four main focus areas: locomotion, sensing, materials, and complex systems. For each topic, we will discuss the state of the art on engineering side and the solutions in nature that can augment the current engineering systems. We will also discuss engineering solutions that may better the current methods and approaches for observing and studying nature. By the end of the course you should be able to work in interdisciplinary teams to understand the following design concepts and apply them to bioinspired design:

  • Ideation and creative thinking methods
  • Prototyping using different tools
  • Learning and applying various methods for design synthesis
  • Understanding the difference between critical function and critical experience prototypes
  • Design, build, and test a prototype that either solves an engineering challenge using observation from nature or improves current nature study tools using innovative engineering technology.


Course Outline:

Week 1 Bio-inspiration Background and Motivation
Week 2 The Design Process
Week 3 Brainstorming and creative thinking methods
Week 4 Problem-driven and solution-based Design
Weeks 5-6 Analogical Design Tools
Weeks 7-10 Areas of Interest Discussion (Discussion about the state of the art in sensing, locomotion, materials and complex systems)
Week 11 Critical function/experience prototype
Week 12 Bench Marking and Need Finding
Weeks 13-15 Final Project Design Reviews and Evaluation