June 8, 2021

Buckminster Fuller Institute - Trimtab Space Camp

For this next course, join us for a learning journey to dive into Fuller’s Design Science and see how we can apply it to today’s global transition. We’ll learn from leaders in Biomimicry, Design Thinking, Indigenous Environmental Science and Rapid Prototyping.

This will be a course unlike any other providing you with the tools you need to be a design scientist, harnessing tools from design thinking, biomimicry, futurism, and regenerative development to navigate global challenges.

Course Guide: Trimtab Space Camp · Modules (coda.io)

Orientation Call

Module 1: Tom Chi | Rapid Prototyping

Tom Chi ⎯ RAPID PROTOTYPING & DESIGN SCIENCE: unlocking radically new ways to solve your toughest problems

Tom is the chair of the Buckminster Fuller Institute board and has worked in a wide range of roles from astrophysical researcher to designer to corporate executive developing new hardware/software products and services. He's played a significant role in established projects with global reach (Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo Search, Google), and scaled new projects from conception to significance (Yahoo Answers from 0 to 90 million users). Tom has pioneered and practiced a unique approach to rapid prototyping, visioning, and leadership that can jumpstart innovative new ideas as well as move organizations at unprecedented speeds. He was a founding team member of Google X developing technology such as Google Glass and Google's self-driving cars. Through his investment work he was able to establish and elaborate a thesis on how humanity can become a net positive through the emergence of environmentally regenerative technology as well as radically disrupting nature-negative industries.

During this module Tom discusses design science using the tools of rapid prototyping, working with the tools of conjectures vs actuals he unpacks what design science is. Design Science is a flavor of design where we are principled and studied as a science.


- Rapid Prototyping Google Glass (8min)

- Rapid Prototyping Product management https://www.mindtheproduct.com/video-tom-chi-on-…

- Fast solutions for a brighter future - rapid prototyping entrepreneurship: Tom Chi at TEDxKyoto 2013

Tom Chi's Office Hours | Video

If you weren't able to join us for Tom Chi's office hour it was a hands on session into rapid prototyping. Taking conjectures to actuals. Wrangling big ideas.

Module 1 Activities - Rapid Prototyping


1. Look back at the last week and identify 1-2 decisions you think took too long.

2. Ponder if there were any conjectures and list them out.

3. Prototyping: Instead of further debate or discussion, what experiment could you have done that would yield actuals?

4. Being Rapid: What’s the fastest experiment you could do that would yield actuals?


Build your cognitive muscles and actualize your big vision by putting yourself into a “for example” experiment.

1. Pick 1 thing you would like to test with 1 important audience in 1 important and SPECIFIC situation

2. Perform a quick experiment

3. What are 3 branch points that created the outcome(s) of your experiment?

4. What’s the next thing you would do?

Module 2: Janine Benyus on Biomimicry

Janine Benyus ⎯ BIOMIMICRY: using nature as design inspiration to form our future

Janine is the co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a biologist, author, innovation consultant, and self proclaimed “nature nerd.” She may not have coined the term biomimicry, but she certainly popularized it in her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In Biomimicry, she names an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes (e.g., solar cells that mimic leaves) to create a healthier, more sustainable planet. Since the book’s 1997 release, Janine has evolved the practice of biomimicry, speaking around the world about what we can learn from the genius that surrounds us.

Janine shares her life's work in biomimicry. Biomimicry Institute is enabling humanity to be a net positive. We are all part of these living systems, Janine talks to us about the three verticals including Form, Process and Ecosystems.


Biomimicry Institute: https://biomimicry.org/

AskNature.org: http://www.asknature.org

Biomimicry 3.8: https://biomimicry.net/bios/janine-benyus/

Biomimicry Taxonomy: https://asknature.org/resource/biomimicry-taxono…

Biomimicry Design Lens: https://biomimicry.net/the-buzz/resources/biomim…

Biomimicry Resource Handbook: https://biomimicry.net/product/digital-handbook/

Biomimicry.net (inspiration cards): https://biomimicry.net/

Biomimicry.org: https://biomimicry.org/

Biomimicry Center at ASU: https://biomimicry.asu.edu/

Life’s Principles: https://biomimicry.net/the-buzz/resources/design…

Global Design Challenge: https://challenge.biomimicry.org/

Janine Benyus | Biomimicry Office Hours

Janine Benyus, Tom Chi and Amanda Ravenhill talk to us about Biomimicry, natures currency, natures rest states, composting late stage capitalism, factory of forests and project positive, and design vs. biology.

Module 2 Activities - Biomimicry

Post your responses in the comment section below!



Observe and Apply: Observe a biological pattern or process and think of ways to apply it.

Prompt: Go out and find a natural setting. Sit for 15min - use all your senses to see who is in your sphere. Look for interactions (dogs pulling their leashes, wind blowing through the trees, bees sucking nectar off a flower) and see if you can recognize a pattern in what you're observing (trees, bugs, birds, humans, fungi). Collect all the instances of one material transforming into, or interacting with, another material.

- What are you observing in the patterns around you?

- What are the universal developments in these patterns?

- Is there a design principle you can pull out?

- How can you apply this to your life?


Prompt: Go into the natural world with a question, or a functional problem you're looking to solve for. Sit for 15 minutes and look for all instances of patterns that relate to your question.

Example: "How does Nature Filter Water?" - Go to a salt marsh and work understand how the plants that are in the water are getting rid of the salt.

Look beyond the mechanism to how the mechanism creates more conditions to life.

- What question are you bringing to the natural world?

- What functional problem are you looking to solve for?

- What patterns did you observe in nature?

- How do those patterns fit within a larger system?


Looking to dig deeper? Check out iSites - a hands-on journal with prompts for observing the natural world, asking the right questions, and building your own collection of inspiring biological forms, processes, and systems.


Module 3: Indigenous Environmental Science

Barbara Wall ⎯ INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE: remembering ancient wisdom traditions that can inform our worldview

Barbara Moktthewenkwe Wall (Potawatomi Anishinaabe) lives, works and conducts research within Anishinaabe Aki, the Great Lakes Basin. She is a storyteller, educator, professional engineer, writer, and dreamer. Barbara is a tenure-track professor in the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University, teaching within the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences program. She is a dual-scholar with transdisciplinary areas of expertise in Anishinaabe traditional Knowledges and practices, and geological and coastal engineering. Barbara is a second language learner of Anishinaabemowin with an intermediate level of competency. She has proven skills in working with Indigenous communities, and privileging Indigenous voices. Barbara lives in rural Ontario, where she spends time on and in the beautiful waters, nurtures traditional Anishinaabe foods, and turns sweetwater into maple sugar.

Barbara takes us on an exploration understanding settler colonialism and our place in the cosmos. Remembering ancient wisdom traditions that can inform our worldview.

Trigger Warning: This module has some heavy conversation and prompts around genocide and loss. Please be sure to have people you can speak to about the emotions that may arise for you. We are here for you too. Please reach out to help process the feels.


Three Sisters Garden

Nolumbeck Project - https://nolumbekaproject.org/heritage-three-sist…

Chapter from Robin Wall Kimmerer on the Three Sisters Garden Metaphor

Seven Prophecies: http://caid.ca/SevFir013108.pdf

Seven Fires Foundation: http://www.7fires.org/

Doctrine of Discovery

UN paper: https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/E…

Upstander project Doctrine of discovery lesson: https://upstanderproject.org/firstlight/doctrine

Impact of Manifest Destiny

Papal Bull “Inter Caetera”

English Translation: https://www.gilderlehrman.org/sites/default/file…

Document: https://www.gilderlehrman.org/sites/default/file…

Cajete, Gregory. Native Science : Natural Laws of Interdependence . 1st ed. Santa Fe, N.M: Clear Light Publishers, 2000.

Barbara Wall Office Hours Tomorrow

In Barbara Wall's Indigenous Environmental Science office hours we talk about "hard sciences" vs. "soft sciences", understanding place, the seven fires prophecy, relationally and the three sisters metaphor. And seeing the world through new eyes...glasses.
We get the pleasure of hearing from and talking to Barbara Wall on Indigenous Environmental Science, understanding the three sisters, 7 prophecies, traditional ecological knowledge and engineering. She has a great activity in store, before the office hours please look around your house for materials to design and create a pair of glasses frames, wire, crafting material, etc. We will be using these glasses during the session.

Module 4: Design Thinking with Mickey McManus

Mickey McManus ⎯ DESIGN THINKING: applying empathy, ideation, prototyping and other design skills to solve challenges around the planet

Mickey is a pioneer in the field of collaborative innovation, pervasive computing, human-centered design and education. For over a decade, Mickey served as MAYA’s president, delivering above industry average profit margins—year over year—while consistently re-investing substantial funds back into MAYA’s R&D efforts. These investments form the core of a pool of intellectual property, trade secrets—and most importantly talent—that drives MAYA’s agility, adaptability, and success. To explore this emerging value at the intersection of design, technology, and business, Mickey co-authored Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology (Wiley 2012). The book is a field guide to the future, where computing will cease to be confined to any particular “box,” but instead be freely accessible in the ambient environment.

For this module Mickey McManus talk about applying empathy, ideation, prototyping and other design skills to solve challenges around the planet.


- Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology (Wiley 2012) https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Trillions%3A+Thrivin…

- Maya Design: https://maya.com/

- Parametricism: https://parametricism.io/home

More resources: For geeky artists this is amazing but little known.


We also did collaborations with Philippe Starck on a biomorphic generatively designed chair and my old work was on bio inspired automotive chassis and components (form follows forces like a horses hip is shaped by the physics of movement and evolutionary pressures).



Much of that can now be done with generative in fusion (of course we added sensors and captured a few billion data points each time we tested in the Mojave to drive the evolution).

I’d have to see if there are further open cad libraries explicitly of bio directed or evolutionary components, it’s still early days.

Here is the multi material, multi manufacturing method generativity designed Europa lander we did with JPL as a forcing function to get their teams to think differently.


And work we did on reducing carbon footprint in automotive components...


And more broadly a keynote I did a while back about the role designers and machine team mates will play in the future...

Mickey McManus Design Science Office Hours

A hands on office hours with Mickey McManus where he takes us through the elements of design in Miro.

Module 4 Activities - Design Thinking


ACTIVITY 1: Co-create an initial Information Architecture (AI)

1. Identify all the "nouns" in the problem space and write them on sticky notes.

2. Use affinity mapping to rearrange the nouns into groups.

3. Use arrows as "verbs" and connect the nouns together with how they relate to each other.

4. Make a list of your assumptions and how you could test them with real stakeholders.

ACTIVITY 2: Build a Future Scenario - Frictionary

1. Define an impossible challenge.

2. Do some research and define the biggest lever / frictions that seem like impossible barriers or blindspots.

3. Determine the impact if the barrier was gone.

4. Co-create some future scenarios where the barriers collapse.

5. Make a plan to see how you could pilot the problems.

What came up for you? What did you learn? How do you think you can apply these processes to your work?

The "C" in CADS --Being a Comprehensivist

CADS = Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science

"A "comprehensivist," he continues, may periodically have to "plunge very deeply" into a narrow subject or specialized project; however, such activity is always part of a larger plan. "Local problem solvers" can function with a global perspective. Our emphasis must shift from "earning a living" to accomplishing vital tasks if humanity is to survive, cautions Fuller; moreover, the "living" will take care of itself if we concentrate on doing what needs to be done."
More: https://www.bfi.org/design-science/primer/design-science

Designing The Future – Stephen Bau (Social Architect) Ep. 18, Pt.2 (podbean.com)

Intelligent Earth - May 28 | Hopin