Systematic design of biologically-inspired engineering solutions Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/z603r138q

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  • Biological organisms, phenomena and strategies, herein referred to as biological systems, provide a rich set of analogies that can be used to inspire engineering innovation. Biologically-inspired, or biomimetic, designs are publicly viewed as creative and novel solutions to human problems. Moreover, some biomimetic designs have become so commonplace that it is hard to image life without them (e.g. velcro, airplanes). Although the biologically- inspired solutions are innovative and useful, the majority of inspiration taken from nature has happened by chance observation, dedicated study of a specific biological entity (e.g., gecko), or asking a biologist to explain the biology in simple terms. This reveals a fundamental problem of working across the engineering and biological domains. The effort and time required to become a competent engineering designer creates significant obstacles to becoming sufficiently knowledgeable about biological systems (the converse can also be said). This research aims to remove the element of chance, reduce the amount of time and effort required to developing biologically-inspired solutions, and bridge the seemingly immense disconnect between the engineering and biological domains. To facilitate systematic biologically-inspired design, a design methodology that relies on a framework of tools and techniques that bridge the two domains is established. The design tools and techniques that comprise the framework achieve: Identification of relevant biological solutions based on function; translation of identified biological systems of interest; functional representation of biological information such that it can be used for engineering design activities; and conceptualization of biomimetic engineering designs. Using functional representation and abstraction to describe biological systems presents the natural designs in an engineering context and allows designers to make connections between biological and engineered systems. Thus, the biological information is accessible to engineering designers with varying biological knowledge, but a common understanding of engineering design methodologies. This work has demonstrated the feasibility of using systematic design for the discovery of innovative engineering designs without requiring expert-level knowledge, but rather broad knowledge of many fields.
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