Bio-inspired design in Mexico

Engineering design, inspired by nature.

Biomimicry is the practice of developing sustainable design ideas inspired nature. On this seven-day learning adventure, students will explore the rich and diverse ecosystems in the Veracruz state of Mexico. Here, you will use alpine, grassland, conifer forest, desert, volcanic lake, cloud forest, tropical evergreen forest, tropical oak forest, rainforest, and mangroves to experience the natural world in order to work with the biomimicry methodology and solve design challenges culminating in a service learning activity.


During the week, you are invited to hike, swim, raft, take a night walk through the rainforest, explore with all your senses, and learn in an open-air classroom. By the end of this group study program, you will know how to practically apply biomimicry as a design tool and understand the history, philosophy, and ethics of the discipline. Additionally, you will learn how to apply the biological and ecological principles relevant to design, problem solve creatively in the field, and gain a fresh perspective on the natural world. 

Key information




Spring 2020

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline

This program is now closed for applications.

Eligibility requirements

This program is open to students in all majors. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

September 24, 4 – 5pm, SSE ENG 401
September 26, noon – 1pm, SSE ENG 401

Student experience

Student Expereince
image of duck

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Marjan Eggermont at 

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:


Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in one course:

    ENGG 523: Bio-inspired Engineering Expedition (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    Students must be in third year standing in order to participate in this program.

    Students from all majors are welcome to participate in this program, with preference given to students in an Engineering major. 

  1. Pre-departure

    April 8, Calgary: Bio-inspired design intensive (day 1)

    April 30, Calgary: Bio-inspired design intensive (day 2)

    Date TBD, Calgary: First aid

    Date TBD, Calgary: Travel medical clinic

    Date TBD, Calgary: Pre-departure Orientation

  2. In-field

    May 1, Calgary: Depart Calgary for Mexico City (overnight in Mexico City)

    May 2, Mexico: Travel from Mexico City to Camp Veracruz

    May 3, Camp Veracruz: Alchichica Lagoon Camp orientation and information session

    May 4, Camp Veracruz: Explore the Mangrove-wetland

    May 5, Camp Veracruz: Design workshop

    May 6, Camp Veracruz: River rapid day trip

    May 7, Camp Veracruz: Information session and work at Camp Veracruz

    May 8, Mexico: Travel from Camp Veracruz to Mexico City

    May 9, Mexico City: Depart for Calgary or independent travel

  3. Post-field

    May 25: Final project due


  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Bio-inspired design in Mexico Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.


    2020/21 Tuition Fees:

    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    Schulich Student Activity Fund: All Schulich students are also encouraged to take advantage of the Schulich Student Activity Fund (SSAF). For more information, please click here.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider. 


Participants will be staying at the accommodations provided at the Talloguaya Camp in Veracruz.

At Talloguaya Camp, you will be sleeping under a bamboo structure. Each campsite has a wall tent equipped with cots or lightweight bed.


All meals will be provided during your stay at the camp: breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner.

Menus are designed in harmony with the seasonality of the place and the learning experience of the campers according to each day's itinerary. Food items are locally sourced. Meals will consist of authentic Veracruz cuisine, from scratch served in a common space “palapa”.

Please note that the camp has a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients, seasonal and balanced meals, as well as inclusion, therefore food restrictions and allergies will be accommodated. All participants are required to fill out a form indicating food restrictions/allergies in advance of arrival. If you plan to bring your own food items, it is requested to please inform the camp of this. 

For more information on the facilities, please contact Dr. Marjan Eggermont at 

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties. Preference will be given to students from the Schulich School of Engineering, but students of all faculties are welcome and encouraged to apply.

Applications will be considered after your application, unofficial transcript, and supplementary questionnaire have been received by Study Abroad.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

  3. Program-specific questionnaire

    Click here download the supplementary questionnaire for this program.

    Submit your completed form by email to

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-specific FAQs

Q: How are students selected?

A: A set number of spaces are available for the program. Student applications will be reviewed and accepted/declined/waitlisted on a weekly basis until all spaces are filled. While good academic standing is required, instructors look for students from a variety of backgrounds to make up the traveling group.

Einstein said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Beyond understanding, we will come up with design ideas supporting local needs and opportunities.

Dr. Marjan Eggermont

Program Instructor

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.