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Aspiring to Improve the World Through a Career in Sustainable Design


During the 2012–13 Biomimicry Student Design Challenge competition, I discovered that solving humanity's biggest design challenges requires new skills applied within a comprehensive framework that integrates sustainability. I gained a deeper understanding of the Buckminster Fuller Institute's tenet of what Fuller described as "comprehensive anticipatory design scientists."

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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    So cool to see her process - discovering what about nature can make more sustainable design. Love her descriptions:

    "Upon first looking to Mother Nature as a mentor, I started with getting curious while walking through a coastal forest in Oregon. I wanted to know how the clouds were forming in the forest and if I could glean insight into water management strategies. After a quick search on, I discovered that pine needles use the strategy of high surface area to perform the function of collecting moisture.

    Dozens of searches and many design iterations later, I learned that nature performs multiple functions using various strategies on all surface, structure and systems levels. Similar to the pine needles, an elephant's wrinkly skin and several desert plants, use the strategy of high surface area, to perform varied functions. Amongst these multi-functional strategies I found several patterns that occurred across many biological organisms.

    The biomimetic design idea, SolDrop, is based on the concept of using several modular solar distillation "pods," in a decentralized fashion, to provide a water treatment option that may be affordable for people in impoverished areas. Ideally, SolDrop solar still "pods" are made from recycled plastic bottles or other locally available materials that can be found and maintained locally, and used to purify water in someone's home."