Leveraging Biologically Inspired Design As An Effective Instructional Strategy
Authors: Wendell Wilson, Young Mi Choi
Abstract: This project(s) adressed by this paper have been undertaken by graduate students in the MID program within the School of Industrial Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Tech offers both two and three year graduate programs, the longer program being intended for students without undergraduate training in design. As such, they lack basic design skills or familiarity with the design process. This prerequisite “certificate year” of studies is comprised of two semesters, intended to help students develop the skills and understanding needed for the subsequent two years of study. Most of the initial semester is focused on basic design skill building – specifically form, proportions, spatial relationships, structure, problem definition, user research, basic anthropometry, 2D visualization and model fabrication to name a few. The first opportunity for students to apply these skills to a complete project has traditionally been a lighting-related design project in which biologically-inspired design (BID) is used as a model for developing design solutions. Since 2013, this BID approach has been applied in 8 of the 11 years, collaborating with professors from Georgia Tech’s Center for Biologically Inspired Design who introduce the concept of biologically inspired design, discuss case studies where the BID process has been particularly effective, and to provide input & feedback throughout the design process to help guide the students as subject matter experts (SME) on BID. Students are given a project brief that details how students must identify a lighting-related problem and a biological inspiration that can be leveraged in solving the problem through design, along with specific project requirements. In an effort to facilitate identification of a biological inspiration, the class typically visits the local zoo or aquarium as a group with a focus on the unique characteristics of different organisms that might be utilized or emulated to innovate effective design solutions. This break from the routine has typically been both motivating and fun for the students who become very engaged in this project.While there are numerous approaches to the design process (i.e. Double Diamond, Circular Design Process, Design Thinking, Engineering Design Process etc.) using BID as a model for introducing the design process to new students has proven to be particularly effective. The final deliverables resulting from this effort frequently are outstanding – despite the fast pace of this project. This paper details how Biologically Inspired Design (BID) has been used successfully as a means of introducing the design process to graduate students.
Keywords: Biologically Inspired Design (BID), Industrial Design, Subject Matter Expert (SME)
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