Biomimicry Design Challenge 2014

By Karli Thode, Communication Intern The Office of Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Each year the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute hosts a Biomimicry Student Design Challenge that is focused on finding a solution to a real-world problem. Because the Design Challenge is an international competition, everything occurs online. However, the Biomimicry Institute sponsoring the competition is based in Montana. Aimed at college and university students, the annual design challenge invites students to work collaboratively in teams to apply biomimicry concepts and tools, dealing with nature and biology, in order to arrive at a sustainable and innovative design solution.

This year’s Design Challenge will take place in April 2014 and focuses on transportation. Students have been asked to examine how nature facilitates effective, efficient transportation and must apply a biomimicry design process to a transportation challenge that must make public transit, freight, or individual transportation options more responsive to user needs or reduce the environmental impact of any form of transportation. 

Senior Biology Major Erin Christensen, Sophomore Andrew Hayes, and First-Year students Chris Herbst and Keshav Daga are all members of Wake Forest’s Biomimicry Design Challenge’s student team. “Our team is unique in that we are truly a representation of collaboration,” says Erin Christensen. Their team brings together Biology, Entrepreneurship, and Computer Science, all academic backgrounds that Christensen believes will be instrumental to their success. 

The team still has lots of work to do in developing their idea and tailoring it to the requirements of the competition, but the foundation that they have built this semester is solid. “Regardless of how we do in the competition, we’re really pleased with our idea. I think that is what’s most important. We’re passionate about what we’re doing, and we’re hopeful that we can eventually implement our idea on campus,” remarks Christensen. 

The team’s biggest goal is to educate, to make others aware of how their choice of transportation can impact the environment. This year’s design task is certainly difficult, but Erin and her team are up for the challenge. Be sure to stay tuned as we check back in with Erin and her team next semester post-competition.