Natural Systems Working Group

Natural systems inspiration for SEs

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Working Group Purpose & Mission


The Natural Systems Engineering Working Group is established to improve System Engineering processes and practices with the application of natural systems knowledge and approaches. The goal is for SEs to take full advantage of natural systems, including both biological systems and the elements and forces of nature.


Analytic Enablers

TechOps Domain






Dennis Tuckowski


Kai Costantini

Curt McNamara

Alex Wolf

Inquiries - next meeting details below


The Natural Systems Working Group will provide a focal point for gathering current information on the application of Natural Systems to Systems Engineering and the disciplines that support it. As such, they will provide a resource for other INCOSE Working Groups and Committees to draw on for relevant inquiries. The group will follow through on recommendations and make periodic updates to the products above as well as make recommendations for other products, sessions, and reports. The NSWG will maintain files, recordings, and links to reference material so as to provide easy access to its work by INCOSE members.


The Working Group will provide the following services:
  1. Create and maintain a Primer for Natural Systems. Develop SE handbook content. Develop associated white papers, presentations, and tutorials, and provide reference material in a retrievable fashion.
  2. Establish/cultivate a Natural Systems in System Engineering Community of Practice. This group will work to extend members" knowledge of design inspired by natural systems and investigate the systematic consideration of natural systems in the System Engineering process. The group will use this information to provide a knowledge service to INCOSE and to influence SE standard process models. Regular teleconferenced briefings will be recorded and stored as accessible webinars to enable later reference by members and grow this community of practice.
  3. Develop and Document Best Practices and Success Stories based on the above assessments and CoP activities and share them with the INCOSE membership. Webinars of at least the CoP presentations will be made accessible on a NSWG website.
  4. Recommend Enhancements to Standard Process Models (such as the INCOSE SE Handbook) that will benefit by inclusion of information from natural systems.
  5. Create Growth in numbers and scope of participants, networking with other groups. Collaboration with outside groups will be encouraged.


The following products will be developed: material for SE Handbook; Natural Systems Primer; library of short videos on Natural Systems characteristics; regular webinars and recordings; sessions at INCOSE International Workshop; joint sessions with other working groups; tutorials on Natural Systems for System Engineers.

IW23: International Workshop Meetings

Intro to bio-inspired design

Sat 1/28 1 p.m. PST

Modeling Nature                                              

Sat 1/28 3:30 p.m. PST

  • Overview of MBSE and natural system models
  • System dynamics modeling
  • Agent based modeling

Modeling bio-inspiration with trade-offs                 

Sun 1/29 10:30 a.m. PST

Laws of nature and systems science                      

Sun 1/29 1 p.m. PST

Intro to the natural systems primer and circularity  

Sun 1/29 3:30 p.m. PST

Register at

Planned Activities

  • Update handbook content
  • Release primer after WG review
  • Record one more short video to support primer
  • Participate in NASA Biocene conference
  • Develop work product with Systems Science working group on Natural Systems for SEs
  • Start discussions with Agile working group

Planned Work Products

  • Handbook content
  • Primer on Natural Systems and SE
  • Work product TBD with Systems Science

INCOSE International Workshop 2023



Intro to bio-inspired design                                           Sat 1/28 1 p.m. PST

A brief exploration of the current state of biomimicry tools and processes used to aid engineers in solving design challenges. Individual participants (or small groups) can each choose their own problem, real or fictitious, and work through the first three phases of the biomimicry process: define, biologize, and discover. Tools such as AskNature and PeTaL will be used. Ruffridge

Brandon Ruffridge is a software engineering lead at NASA. He is currently leading a cross-functional team of students, faculty, commercial partners, engineers, biologists, and computer scientists in the development of PeTaL, a novel, innovative, open-source, machine-learning-based system to help researchers and engineers discover solutions in nature.

Modeling Nature                                                            Sat 1/28 3:30 p.m. PST

  • Exploration of Natural Systems and opportunities to leverage for use in Model Based Systems Engineering and Digital Engineering processes. Tuckowski
  • System Dynamics is an approach to modeling & simulation developed in the 1950s and widely used since the 1960'sfor complex system analysis and simulation. The basic method of causal loop analysis, identification of stocks,  flows, delays, and feedback supports scientific, engineering, and policy efforts at scales from molecular through to cells, organisms, ecosystems, urban systems, and planetary systems. Presentation is a quick overview of basic terminology and concepts, some important in-use models coupled with a reference and resource section. McGoey
  • Agent based modeling. A literature review on conceptualized and descriptive agent-based models and a presentation of templates of agent-based models using SysML with case studies. Fitzgerald


Dennis Tuckowski is a Principal Systems Engineer with ground vehicle systems for SAIC and co-chair of the INCOSE Natural Systems Working Group. He is an ASEP with over 15 years experience in product development and designs in over 40 million consumer products.

Mr. McGoey is a Classic Jurassic Systems Engineer, having obtainedan MSEng in SE in the previous century followed by a multi-decade career in National Lab, A&E, and Aerospace. He is an INCOSE member and a CSEP. He is also a member of SDS (System Dynamics Society).

Terry is recognized as a Chartered Engineer registered in the UK, INCOSE CSEP and OMG SysML advanced user and has 13 years of experience working in engineered-to-order industries in China and now Canada where he uses his MBSE know-how to improve clarity and value to complex systems for stakeholders.

Modeling bio-inspiration with trade-offs                            Sun 1/29 10:30 a.m. PST

Can gamification of biological trade-offs helps solve technical problems? Attendees will be introduced to trade-offs in biology and, with the help of tools and assistance, analyse a number of examples and apply the results to the design of a technical problem. Vincent, Wolf

As a rare, highly spatial female, Alex made the transition from academic schools like Chapin and Exeter, to RISD, and in hindsight knows why she thrives in the visual arts and design, which are vital to accessing children's creativity. Her visual platforms aim to serve all, but especially those who relate spatially, by increasing the depth of engagement in preschool, and continuing to build in K-12 with spatial tools for reasoning, on through PhD. At her company na2ure, Alex created the pattern ABC, the Periodic Table for Biology, the motion abc, and has published several award-winning games. Besides a BFA in Sculpture, she received an AIGA Design Award, and interned for graphic design legend Milton Glaser.

Julian Vincent is a zoologist. He took his first degree at Cambridge University and second and third at Sheffield University. In 1968 he started his career at the University of Reading, UK as a zoologist. In 2000 he was invited to the University of Bath, UK, as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He was part time lecturer at the Royal College of Art & Design and Imperial College London until 2010.

He has worked in many interdisciplinary contexts, such as mechanical engineering, materials science, architecture, design, creativity, biology, materials, food physics, food texture. He is, and has been, a member of numerous scientific and advisory boards. He cofounded the Centres of Biomimetics in Reading and Bath and is President of the International Society for Bionic Engineering. He holgs Honorary Professorships at Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, and at the Hochschule Rhein-Waal, Germany, and is an Adjunct Professor in Engineering and Materials at Clemson University, USA.

He is currently developing an ontology of Biomimetics. Ultimately this will make biological design available to engineers without any knowledge of biology being required. It will also be able to interface with autonomous agents in a design environment, automatically solving problems using biomimetics where appropriate.

Laws of nature and systems science                                Sun 1/29 1 p.m. PST

How can we make natural systems laws and properties available to systems engineers? The natural systems and systems science working groups are conducting this joint session to continue work on making this information available, and creating a work product to document it. McNamara,  Swaminathan Natarajan

Intro to the natural systems primer and circularity            Sun 1/29 3:30 p.m. PST

Intro to natural systems design and the natural systems primer. The working group has just released a primer on natural systems for system engineers. We will give an overview of the techniques and opportunities defined in it. There will be discussion of ‘worked examples’ of natural systems design. McNamara

Overview of circular design challenges and opportunities. Nature inspired engineering is a key component of Circular Economy (CE) strategies. CE is increasingly being used both to innovate and lower impacts. Constantini

Curt is a retired design and systems engineer with substantial experience in education. He is a biomimicry education fellow and past co-chair of the working group. His current project is a book on Buckminster Fuller’s tools for design and systems change. 

Kai’s career spans 4 countries, she got her BA from Durham University, UK, studied à L'Institut d'etudes européennes’ in Paris and added a “Human Capital Strategy” specialization in the US. In her various professional roles she gravitated naturally towards systems Tech and IT. In 2012 she realized the need to center her professional activity around regenerative principles. Since then, Kai has been active in circularity and as a Biomimicry practitioner. She launched two Circular Economy Club City chapters in Canada, is Ambassador for the "Circular Economy Institute", and has been selected as a member of MIT Media Lab's "Global Community Bio CoP”. Kai advises local stakeholders on tools and strategies to implement circularity at a bioregional level. She joined NSWG/IONCOSE because systems engineering is vital in delivering sustainable solutions to solve multiple man-made crises. As co-chair she hopes NSWG continues to deliver vital tools to substantially change human systems in our crucial decade.



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