DS82: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE15), Great Expectations: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise, Loughborough, UK, 03-04.09.2015

Year: 2015
Editor: Guy Bingham, Darren Southee, John McCardle, Ahmed Kovacevic, Erik Bohemia, Brian Parkinson
Author: Bruce, Fraser; Baxter, Seaton
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1DJCAD, University of Dundee, UK, 2Schumacher College, Devon, UK
Section: Pedagogical Practice
Page(s): 272-277
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


Most educational courses in Product Design and Engineering feature the practice of prototyping. We define prototypes by two conditions. They are both the first model and one which gives rise subsequently to multiple copies (offspring). All around us there are many examples of the offspring of successful prototypes both created by mankind’s ingenuity and by the evolutionary processes of nature. This paper is concerned primarily with these evolutionary processes and their possible simulation by designers and engineers. We begin by briefly reviewing the main aspects and practices of conventional prototyping before comparing this with the way in which living systems continually prototype through evolutionary means. This we call biological prototyping. Here we briefly discuss the concept of evolution in nature and also where it is used to express progress in technological systems. The link between conventional and biological prototyping is conceived through developments in biomimicry and the philosophically aligned concept of biophilia. This combination we refer to as Natural Prototyping and we then enumerate ten (10) characteristics of natural prototyping. We conclude with some suggestions on how natural prototyping could be incorporated into the curriculum for engineering and product design education.

Keywords: Prototyping, nature, evolution, biomimicry, living machines, biophilia, Goethe.

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