A video spotlighting the research of Tian “Tim” Chen – the Kamel Salama Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Cullen College of Engineering – has accumulated nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube in less than a week.
Steve Mould, an author and educational presenter, interviewed Chen on his popular YouTube channel. The video has also been translated into Chinese and posted to Bilibili, where it has accumulated another 370,000 hits. Chen noted that he was familiar with Mould's work.
“As scientists and engineers, my colleagues and I all watch Steve Mould's videos regularly,” he said. “So it was a total surprise to get an email from him and even bigger surprise when, in the email, he said he planned to make a video on our work and asked for my help.”
The video focused on Chen's paper, “Bistable auxetic surface structures,” which was published in ACM Transactions on Graphics. His co-authors for the paper were Julian Panetta, Max Schnaubelt and Mark Pauly.
“We present Bistable Auxetic Surface Structures, a novel deployable material system based on optimized bistable auxetic cells,” the authors wrote. “Such a structure can be flat-fabricated from elastic sheet material, then deployed towards a desired double-curved target shape by activating the bistable mechanism of its component cells. A unique feature is that the deployed model is by design in a stable state. This facilitates deployment without the need of complex external supports or boundary constraints.”
Mould's video features a demonstration of this material, as well as an interview with Chen. Despite only being published in July 2021, the paper has already been cited 28 times.
“After watching the video, I realized that Steve explained the research better than I ever could,” Chen said, adding that he was pleased with the reception it had gotten.
“It is immediately obvious that this video has been seen by more people than the sum of all my previous works in all venues. Part of my job as a scientist to disseminate knowledge, and this video forces me to re-evaluate our traditional ways of doing this.”
Chen joined the faculty of the Cullen College of Engineering in September 2021. He runs the Architected Intelligent Matter (A.I.M.) lab, which has its own website.