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Design with Nature

Nature is probably world's most effective designer. You will explore the ways in which nature can inspire (biomimicry) or even participate in design (biodesign). Understanding the basics of life sciences, applying biomimicry methods and using open source tools to implement your design are at the center of attention in this semester.

The general objective of the minor is to train students to create solutions for a wide of range of challenges and to design products by taking inspiration from nature and/or by involving nature in the design of the product. This minor will enable students from different backgrounds to work within interdisciplinary teams of designers, scientist and engineers.

More specifically, you will:

  1. Learn to use tools/techniques to take inspiration from nature (biomimicry)
  2. Learn to make your own bio-lab to be able to experiment with organic materials and living organisms for design purposes
  3. Learn why and how designers involve living mechanisms into the design of products
  4. Get acquainted with the concept of Biohacking, it’s potentials and future scope
  5. Work together with students and professionals of different disciplines such as software engineering, biology and life sciences and Industrial design to form and implement product concepts
  6. Use rapid prototyping tools and techniques to test your ideas
  7. Tinker with existing products in order to explore potential future solutions
  8. Reflect on your role as an open innovator in the edge of design and personal biotechnology


Competences (*):

1.1. (Re)define problems and reason analytically [level 2&3]

1.2. Discover knowledge by investigating and experimenting

2.1.  Formulate design briefs containing vision and requirements, based on primary and secondary research

2.4.  Consider desirability, viability, and feasibility while designing and engineering

2.5. Create and optimize ideas, concepts, prototypes, and product proposals

2.6.  Evaluate ideas, concepts, and (end) products based on requirements

3.1.  Work methodologically

3.2. Collaborate within a designteam in a multidisciplinary (international) setting

4.1.  Manifest/present yourself in a (semi) professional setting

4.2.  Communicate within a team on team dynamics and (your) role

4.3.  Make deliverables tangible in a refined, communicative way

4.4.  Communicate in a foreign language and/or in an international setting

5.1.  Reflect on your role in projects and your impact on society as an innovator


(*) IPO/IDE competence set (based on the CDIO syllabus, general HBO competences and the IPO/IDE domain competence set)

Aanvullende informatie

Target group:

Students in Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts.

Teaching methods and study load:

The course includes weekly lectures and hands-on workshops on diverse topics that support the project which is conducted by students who work in multidisciplinary groups.


Biohack Academy at the Waag Society (visit and other companies that act as clients, depending on the group project topic

Minimum and maximum participation:

Minimum: 15

Maximum: 60

Contact hours:

This minor requires 40 hours work per week:

14 contact hours p/w (tutoring/workshops/excursions)

26 hours p/w self-study and teamwork


  1. Students should submit a Letter of Motivation (500 words in English) that explains their interest in the field of design with nature, what they would like to learn and achieve by taking this minor. The letter of Motivation can be sent to or at the time of online enrolment. The applicants will be informed about the result of their application within 10 working days after the submission of the letter.
  2. Students should have completed the propaedeutic exam and obtained at least 60 ECTS of the main phase (hoofdfase) of their study.


Examination takes place in the form of integrated assessments in which the student proofs mastery of a self-chosen selection of 24 predefined course specific sub-competences by showing the ability to integrate knowledge and skills in the main semester project. The sub-competencies are defined on three levels: novice, advanced beginner and competent. The assessment is an oral exam supported by project materials that the student brings as evidence. There are three rounds of assessments that take place in week 5, 10 and 15, each for 10 ECTs. For each proven level of a sub-competency, 2 credits are awarded. The resit for all assessment rounds takes place in week 18.


Study aids:

Open source software will be used during this course. Students are advised to bring their own Arduino starter kit.


Information about scheduling will be sent to you 10 days before the start of the minor.