Understanding Analogical Reasoning in Biomimetic Design: An Inductive Approach

Hyunmin Cheong, Gregory M. Hallihan, L. H. Shu

Design Computing and Cognition '12


This paper reports insights gained from observing groups of novice designers apply biological analogies to solve design problems. We recorded the discourse of fourth-year mechanical engineering students during biomimetic design sessions. We observed that the availability of associations from superficial or functional characteristics of biological knowledge led to fixation, which affected the designers’ ability to identify the relevant analogy. In addition, even after identifying the analogy, the designers fixated on mapping irrelevant characteristics of biological knowledge, instead of developing additional solutions based on the previously detected analogy. The paper also presents initial work towards quantifying analogical reasoning in a design study.


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