FHL 585 | Summer B 2020

Biomimetics: Principles of Nature-Inspired Engineering

Credits: 9

Instructor(s): Dr. David Gire , Dr. Venkatesh Gopal


This course will focus on project-based investigations of fundamental principles from physics and how they apply to animals in marine environments, with a focus on octopuses. Students will also learn experimental design and analysis techniques. While the course will focus on octopuses, we aim to give students the tools to understand how a variety of animals from marine invertebrates to seals and fish use the flow of the water around them to sense their environment and efficiently move through it. Projects will involve design and construction of experimental equipment as well as customized robots to test models of sensing and moving in fluids.

Learning Objectives: The main goal of this course is to provide students with a firm understanding of important principles from physics as they apply to the study of marine life.

Course Logistics: The course will meet daily Mon-Fri for 2 hours of instruction in the morning followed by guided design and build sessions for the student projects. Saturday will we will hold less formal discussions of the material and project review sessions.

Students will choose from one of three topic areas to perform their design and build project. For each project they will have the option of an engineering approach or an experimental approach that will test that topic in octopus behavioral experiments. Student discussion groups will be based on projects rather than techniques, enabling the students to collaborate across disciplines to advance their projects.