“Uri Alon’s textbook here, it’s a first-year textbook in systems biology. I don’t know if you can see but the subtitle says something about design principles. I opened the book and I was shocked by the lack of molecular details in these diagrams. You have these networks where you have just nodes. You have diagrams where, what I was used to would be very detailed descriptions of the properties of specific components, was just replaced with these line sets. You have these quantitative models; I was used to more qualitative descriptions.”

“I came to engineering from biology ten years ago. Very much the standard biologist, never thought about engineering at all. So, I didn’t have a clue what a logic gate was, no idea about circuits, switches, repressors, and all this kind of stuff. Not concepts I had ever thought about, but the kind of biology that I was always interested in was applied biology, and using biology for useful purposes.” Explore more >>

"The background of the image is Leonardo’s notebooks. This historical example of an engineering notebook, that we now see as a very precious sort of artefact, captured his ideas, his designs, his thoughts about how the world might work, and so on.” Explore more >>

“I’m now engaged with robotics, with software engineering, with mathematical modelling. So, now I actually get more involved all the time with more traditional engineering disciplines, which I’m enjoying. But all the time that pesky evolution thing.” Explore more >>

“I became interested also in the challenges for collaboration between molecular biologists and engineers that were doing the modelling in terms of differences in their epistemic ideals for what a good model is, what a good explanation is, what the purpose of this type of science is.”

“The whole idea of learning by building immediately struck an intellectual chord in me. I thought that was a really interesting thing. And so I was interesting in this. The more I got into synthetic biology, the more I had to engage with more traditional engineering.” Explore more >>

“Engineers are changing the world in different ways. They are changing the the physical environment, but they are also changing our social environment. There is something here like buildings or infrastructure, but it’s about peoples, it’s about goals, it’s about culture, its processes, values. And that is the way for me that engineers primarily create value.” Explore more >>

“I get interested in the end-user and the particular uses that things that are engineered get used for, and not always designed in from the start. There’s nothing stopping this guy from sitting on this stool and browsing through books. Or even going around the corner and dragging a chair from a desk and standing on that. Different ways to achieve the same results, and it’s how a person is positioned. If you’re a student, or a library staff, or a health and safety officer, you might do different things with different objects but still get the same result.” Explore more >>

“I feel that there’s a lot of territories that philosophers of science haven’t attended much to. At least my understanding of philosophy of biology is a field that has focused a lot on evolution and a lot on explanation but much less on design and control and the implications of that. And what I often see when I talk to scientists, they emphasise these aims.”

“Turns out there’s this big chunk of something called engineering that people actually haven’t spent that much time thinking about, by and large. So engineering for me is an opportunity to rediscover all the history that I already know and re-imagine it in light of things like engineering practices, engineering knowledge, engineering societies, all of the various kinds of engineers.” Explore more >>

“Engineering associates a lot, for me, with design. And if you look up the dictionary for ‘design,’ it says, ‘purpose, planning, or intention that exists, or is thought to exist,’ which is an important thing, ‘behind an action, fact or material object.’ And I’m quite interested in designs that are not obvious from the look of it.” Explore more >>

“Engineering is through tinkering, through being playful with the world that’s around us. So, understanding fundamentally how things work to the point where I can start to wonder around ‘how can I hack them.’ That’s the first step: ‘how can I change them?' and ‘how can I make through a systematic process changes to these things I’m playing with to make them do what I want?’” Explore more >>