Our mathematical understanding of biology from the physiological to ecosystem level has taken off in the last 30 years. Ecologists currently use this knowledge simply to describe natural systems and explain observations, but can we go a step further? Can we utilize our mathematical understanding of nature to design or engineer a better ecosystem? What would we want this better system to do for us and what would it look like? Can we actually optimize the system for these desired traits? Your favorite non-linear solver package won't help here, so come find out how some here at Illinois are tackling these questions head on.