Stephen Howe

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Hi Everybody!

I am Stephen Howe, I was born and raised in California obtained my bachelors degree in biology from Westmont College in sunny Santa Barbara CA and I will now be moving to Akron to take part in the University’s Biomimicry fellowship. I am part of the third (and largest to date) biomimicry cohort at the University of Akron and I will be working with Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. I am excited to be part of this growing community of bio-inspired colleagues as we seek to inject sustainable inspired design into each of our respective fields.

I unwittingly have been practicing biomimicry ever since I joined my local swim team at the age of nine. The strokes themselves mimic movements of much more efficient swimmers (e.g. dolphin kick in butterfly, and “frog kick” in breaststroke). Later in my swimming career the influence of biomimicry hit the suits with the début of Speedo’s Fastskin II. This suit was designed to mimic the drag reducing effects of shark denticles. Having one made you talk of the team. Fast forward to spring semester my sophomore year of college I started designing a “pectoral fin analog” simply put a device to give freedivers increased mobility and acrobatic range. July 2014 I picked up The Shark’s Paintbrush by Jay Harman (a great read for someone wanting to learn what exactly is biomimicry) and realized my work with pectoral fins fit perfectly into this emerging field. As sprinted toward finishing a degree in Biology I was getting cold feet, unsure whether I really wanted to get a PhD in ecology, I knew I was really excited about the idea of biomimicry but I was uncertain whether I could actually make a career out of it. It was on a whim and a google search that I found U of Akron’s biomimicry fellowship. I applied here and two other grad schools and didn’t get in to either of the others, which is just as well because I am looking forward to a great adventure in this new frontier.

As I get started in the program I find I am interested in industrial/product design with some engineering thrown in, all through a biological lens. I will be working closely with the IB faculty and with my contacts at Bendix to discover how I will help to grow the field of biomimicry.

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