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Biomimicry Innovation as a Tool for Design

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Student Development and Assessment in IE Programs

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, Engineering Economy, and Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.265.1 - 25.265.11

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Paper Authors


Terri M. Lynch-Caris Kettering University

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Terri Lynch-Caris, Ph.D., P.E., is an Associate Professor in the Industrial and Manufacturing Department at Kettering University and a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Michigan. She serves as the Director for the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Kettering. Her areas of interest in teaching and research include ergonomics and human modeling, statistics, work design and lean principles, supply chain management, and environmental sustainability.

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Jonathan Weaver University of Detroit Mercy


Darrell K. Kleinke University of Detroit Mercy

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Darrell Kleinke has more than 25 years of industry experience in the design and development of electro-mechanical systems. As a tenure-track faculty member of the UDM Mechanical Engineering Department, he has adopted a program of instruction that UDM has branded "Faces on Design," in which student project work is made more meaningful as students have the opportunity to see and experience the faces of real live clients. In the series of design courses he teaches, students design mechanical devices for use by disabled clients.
In addition to academic work, Kleinke is a registered Professional Engineer and conducts seminars on innovation that are tailored to the needs of automotive engineers. Kleinke's recent publication, "Capstones Lessons to Prepare Students for the Changing World of Corporate Innovation", was awarded fist place as Best Paper at a 2011 regional conference of the American Society for Engineering Education.

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Biomimicry  Innovation  as  a  Tool  for  Design    In  this  paper,  Problem-­‐Based  Learning  (PBL)  was  employed  to  apply  the  ideas  of  innovation  and  biomimicry  to  ergonomics  problems.  The  Biomimicry  Innovation  Tool  begins  with  a  focus  on  Natures  Laws  as  a  starting  point  to  design  and  allows  students  to  uncover  evidence  that  will  enable  the  useful  application  of  the  laws  of  nature  to  solve  a  technical  ergonomics  design  problem.  The  prototype  Biomimicry  Innovation  Tool  was  applied  and  assessed  in  an  ergonomics  undergraduate  classroom  where  all  students  were  employed  as  cooperative  education  students.    The  students  began  by  individually  identifying  an  ergonomics  concern  in  their  workplace  and  providing  a  one-­‐page  written  description  of  the  concern.    The  concern  was  then  passed  along  to  another  student  to  innovate  a  nature-­‐based  solution  to  the  concern.    Using  a  step-­‐by-­‐step  approach,  students  formed  an  idea  that  evolved  into  a  solution.    A  grading  rubric  allowed  the  professor  to  fairly  evaluate  the  final  presentations.    The  prototype  Biomimicry  Innovation  Tool  will  be  modified  based  on  the  assessment  data.    References:  Benyus,  Janine  (1997)    “Biomimicry:  Innovation  Inspired  by  Nature,”  Sept.  1,  1997,  (ISBN  0-­‐06-­‐053322-­‐6)  Engle,  CE,  [1992],  “Problem-­‐Based  Learning,”,  Br  J  Hosp  Med.  1992  Sep  16-­‐Oct  6;48(6):325-­‐9,  Retreived  from  on  September  28,  2011.  Wood,  Diana,  [2008].  “Problem  Based  Learning,”  BMJ  336  :  971  doi:  10.1136/bmj.39546.716053.80  (Published  1  May  2008)  Retrieved  from  on  September  28,  2011.      

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