Taking inspiration from nature, IIT-M to start Biomimicry course

Chennai: The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) is all set to offer a full semester, one-of-its-kind elective course under the inter-disciplinary stream on Biomimicry.

As the name suggests, biomimicry is to imitate or look at nature as a source of inspiration to solve complex problems.

A release from IIT-M said biomimicry is the intersection of biology and engineering and one do not have to be either a biologist or an engineer to learn it.

All they needed was curiosity. Curious enough to look at a lotus leaf and ask the question ‘How does a lotus leaf remain clean?’, it said.

Biomimicry was not learning about nature, but learning from it. Its ethos or the guiding principle is that life creates conditions conducive to life.

Some examples of modern engineering inspired by biomimicry included The ‘Shinkansen’ bullet train in Tokyo, Japan, inspired by the kingfisher, The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe inspired by the termite mound, The town of Kalundborg in Denmark practising industrial symbiosis, Wind turbine blade design inspired by the flippers of humpback whales, and self-filling water flasks inspired by the Namib Desert beetle.

IIT-M is among the first institutions in India to offer a full-fledged course on biomimicry and it would taught by Prof M S Sivakumar, Dean of Students, Shiva Subramaniam, Chief Innovation Officer of the Gopalakrishnan-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Prof. Satyanarayanan Seshadri, Department of Applied Mechanics and Prof Srinivasa Chakravarthy Department of Biotechnology.

IIT-M has also created a community of biomimicry enthusiasts who were exploring opportunities in research, entrepreneurship, new products, processes, and systems.

The Institute plans to hold a biomimicry challenge to provoke bold, sustainable ideas from young minds. The UN Sustainable Development Goals could provide students with challenges for which they could design solutions using biomimicry.

Biomimicry has immense potential not only in engineering, technology and design, but also in other areas like management, human resources, administration, social sciences and arts.

School children could benefit from learning biomimicry as it could lead to not just innovating from nature, but also creating a sustainable way of life, the release said.

 

NT Bureau