The duality between biological systems and engineering systems exists in the pursuit of economical and efficient solutions. By adapting biological design principles, nature’s technology can be harnessed. In this paper, we present a systematic method for reverse engineering biological systems to assist the designer in searching for solutions in nature to current engineering problems. Specifically, we present methods for decomposing the physical and functional biological architectures, representing dynamic functions, and abstracting biological design principles to guide conceptual design. We illustrate this method with an example of the design of a variable stiffness skin for a morphable airplane wing based on the mutable connective tissue of the sea cucumber.

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