Nano Micro Macro: Adaptive Material Laboratory

This course explores design research methods and techniques through the microcosm of newly emerging biologically inspired material systems and their applications in buildings. Focused on technologies and systems developed by researchers at the Wyss Center for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the course serves as an interdisciplinary platform for students to interact with material scientist and chemists from Wyss. The course introduces ideas-to-innovation processes in a hands-on, project/product focused manner. Emphasis is on the use of ‘inspirational objects’ – somewhat autonomous, artistic artifacts that balance thematic effects with promising, real-world opportunities. Switching back and forth between guided discovery and focused development, between bottom-up and top-down thinking, the course helps students establish generalizable frameworks as researchers and innovators with a focus on new and emerging material systems.

The course is structured into three parts:
– The first segment focuses on introducing several biologically inspired material systems (theoretically as well as hands-on) as well as exploring selected design themes through case studies.
– Segment two is focused on discovery and exploration with the aim of producing ‘sketch artifacts’ that address thematic design challenges through creative deployment of selected biologically inspired material systems.
– Segment three targets product development activities inspired by phases one and two, addressing a real-world need. The deliverables are product proposals including market studies, product economics, design visualizations, and prototypes.

The course includes weekly lectures, several guest lectures, workshops, a brainstorming session, and field/lab trips. Presentations and discussions of ongoing student work are integral to the course. For phases two and three students assemble into groups. Students will be completing some of their work at the science labs at the Wyss Institute.