Rich AltherrComment

Biomimicry Design Dare: An Earth Day Experience

Rich AltherrComment
Biomimicry Design Dare: An Earth Day Experience

How will you inspire your kids (and yourself) on Earth Day 2018? Metro Museum of Design Detroit’s (MM-O-DD) third annual Biomimicry Design Dare Challenge at the Michigan Science Center in civic collaboration with Biomimicry Detroit and partially sponsored by Nature Come Standard is sure to inspire.  Biomimicry is a design process that looks to nature’s 3.8 billion years of research and development as a model, mentor, and measure.  For example, the quiet flight of the owl inspired engineers to design fan blades with serrations to hush the noise from the airflow.

Growing up in the temperate broadleaf forests north of Detroit, my sister and I treated the outside as a backdrop for our imagination.  I distinctly remember a towering, multi-stemmed maple tree creating the foundation for my two level treehouse (and sometimes spaceship).  And a 25-foot circular clearing off a wooded trail where I could sit on a rock to absorb the sounds of flora and fauna. 

My rural middle school taught me about nature with its Environmental Studies Program.  Here, we slogged through muddy wetlands learning about frog-life and collected leaves in wax paper binders.  While the future led me to study engineering and land a career in the automotive industry, I haven't forgotten my lessons in nature.  As with many childhood experiences, the rarity and importance of those experiences register much later in life.

Enamored by Janine Benyus’ groundbreaking book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature, I realized in 2006 the potential of nature’s genius to enhance and reimagine my years of engineering work.  My childhood amazement in nature could finally be integrated with my technical knowledge.  As a certified Biomimicry Specialist from the Biomimicry Institute and a graduate of the Arizona State University Biomimicry program, I want to contribute to Detroit’s revitalization with biomimetic energy.  Thus, I created Biomimicry Detroit, a network of local people excited about biomimicry as well as Nature Comes Standard, LLC, a consultancy tailored to biomimicry and mechanical engineering innovation.

MM-O-DD’s Biomimicry Dare Challenge at the Michigan Science Center provides the next generation kids of Metro Detroit (and their curious parents) exposure to the exciting intersection of nature and design.  It is this next generation who will leap-frog previous generations in restoring the earth and prove that sustainable and regenerative design is key.  Perhaps, 20 years from now one of the Biomimicry Design Dare Challenge attendees will express how the Earth Day event inspired them to invent a biomimetic solution to what seems to be a challenging issue today.  Event Details