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Bioinspiration and Biomimicry: What Can Engineers Learn from Biologists?

Parallel abstracts

The field of biomechanics thrives on collaborations between engineers and biologists. With the recent emphasis on biomimicry and bioinspiration, such collaborations are bound to increase in number and may be central to many future research programs. Far too often, however, there is no resonance between the philosophies that guide each research program. Engineers tend to look at biological phenomena with a designer’s eye, something against which biologists are explicitly cautioned. On the other hand, biologists may often prefer a descriptive route over a mechanistic one. How can we make such collaborations resonate better from an intellectual perspective? In this essay, I describe a short historical account of biomimicry and bioinspiration, and offer suggestions for better collaborations between engineers and biologists, with examples of cases in which fruitful approaches have been adopted.

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