A truly transformational experience!

Akash. R a high school junior from Michigan, USA who completed the Online Emerging Innovators Research Program shares his experience:

I learned a lot about a new and very inspiring kind of innovation in this course through biomimicry. I really was deeply affected by the ingenious idea of using nature as an inspiration to solve otherwise unsolvable problems.

My big take-away was the design thinking process: These steps, define, identify, discover, abstract, emulate, and evaluate, are all so simple, yet can give rise to some beautiful solutions to problems otherwise unsolvable. One example that really sticks in my mind is the Japanese bullet train. When faced with the problem of extremely loud noise coming from the bullet train coming out of the mountain, some scientists solved the problem using biomimicry! They asked themselves, what in nature can travel between two mediums, like the inside and outside of a mountain, air to water, seamlessly. Turns out the answer was a very seemingly innocent bird: the kingfisher. The kingfisher has evolved to travel between air and water seamlessly, because for the unsuspecting fish, its dinner, its diving into the water should not startle the fish. It enters the water headfirst with the tip of its beak, not even creating one ripple. It was such a great solution that the scientists designed after many trials, a head for the bullet train, shaped exactly like the tip of a kingfisher’s beak. When they put their newly modified train into action, there was no sound! A huge “ah-ha” moment for me was after I finished watching the 20-minute movie on Biomimicry because I realized the expanse of topics to which this new type of innovation could be applied.

I was really amazed with some of the innovations, such as color changing paint without any dyes, and sharkskin that could prevent a buildup of germs! Biomimicry has completely changed my thinking process and the way I look at the world now. Whenever I see an ant crawling across the floor now, I do not immediately go to my closet and get the repellent. I sit and observe it, sometimes getting a magnifying glass to get a better view of it.

I still question whether many scientists and innovators know of this branch of innovation, and if not, how can we get them to know in the quickest fashion possible? I might apply this learning experience to future opportunities by applying the ideas, ingenuity and organized thinking process to motivate my close friends at school and my family to also learn about biomimicry. I plan to start a club to educate more people at my school about this type of research, and I also want to share the skills that I have learned in this design thinking process with other people. I would like to show my family my presentation and let them also be inspired by nature. In conclusion, I feel that biomimicry has had a deep impact on me and will continue to influence me in my daily life.