Other than Arizona State University, which offers several courses in the subject, biomimicry is largely absent from higher education programs in the U.S. But that’s not the case in other countries. Consider the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai. Last fall, the school introduced a full-semester elective biomimicry course—the first of its kind in India—that immerses students in the concept and how it can ultimately help shape human health and happiness.
As an article in Chennai’s News Today explained, the course is not intended solely for biologists or engineers, but for the curious, any students interested in learning from nature, for “its ethos, or the guiding principle, is that life creates conditions conducive to life.” The school, the article, added, already has a community of biomimicry enthusiasts actively exploring opportunities in research, entrepreneurship, new products, processes, and systems.
Further, New Today noted several modern engineering projects that are influenced by biomimicry, including the Japanese network of Shinkansen bullet trains that are inspired by the shape of a kingfisher’s beak; the passively cooled Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, a shopping complex and office building that references the structure of termite mounds; and NBD Nano’s self-filling water bottles capable of storing up to three liters every hour that call to mind the Namib Desert beetles, which harvest moisture from the air, condense it, and then store water.
Along with the class, taught by the dean of students, professors from the departments of applied mathematics and biotechnology, and the chief innovation officer of the Gopalakrishnan-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the institute also plans to hold a biomimicry challenge for youth to share their bold, sustainable ideas, while acquainting schoolchildren with biomimicry and the possibilities of innovating from nature.
A version of this article was originally published by MyTech Decisions.