Engineers typically do not get formal training in biomimicry and it is not reasonable to expect that experience will eventually result in DaVinci-like knowledge of nature. A standardized approach to finding nature-based solutions may bridge the gap and encourage adoption in academic curricula.
Function-mapping offers an intuitive method to connect engineering needs to potential biological (and traditional) solutions. A standard methodology for defining engineering functions can be used to describe the capabilities offered by nature. If design engineers can express technical problems in these same functional terms, they will then be able to connect their problem/need not only to known man-made solutions, but also seamlessly explore relevant biological solutions. Several examples are illustrated in the paper and a comparison is made to the taxonomy employed by the Biomimicry Institute (www.asknature.org).
The authors believe the proposed approach can greatly facilitate the integration of biomimicry into the engineering design process.