Led by biologists from the Montana-based Biomimicry Guild, a consulting firm that also works with companies such as Nike, Interface and General Electric, the engineers [from Boeing] are spending a week learning how to, if not exactly find the answer, at least ask the right questions. Thinking outside the standard academic toolbox is not intuitive for most engineers, says Dayna Baumeister, the guild’s co-founder. “Putting them in a rain forest brings them back to that childlike state of wonder and suddenly broadens their perspective to other ways problems might be solved.”
The article describes the experiences of engineers from Boeing and Kohler at one of the Biomimicry Guild's Biomimicry and Design Workshops in Costa Rica. The Boeing team tackled cabin noise and discovered numerous ways in which organisms create, utilize and attenuate sound. Two engineers and a designer from Kohler wanted to improve the experience of taking a shower while conserving water and found "a whole new set of inspirations" that encouraged one designer to "gravitate toward sustainable design first; I don’t just reach for the same metal and plastic."