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Structures Research Group



Tim is a PhD candidate in the Advanced Structures Group supervised by Dr Keith Seffen and funded by the EPSRC(expected submission Dec. 2019). Prior to this he completed his MEng degree at Cambridge (2011-15), with a specialisation in Mechanical engineering.

He is a postgraduate member of Corpus Christi College, and was an undergraduate at Fitzwilliam College.


Tim's research concerns the development of novel morphing structures, drawing insights from intriguing physical phenomena in nature and from the world of Arts and Craft to inspire new structural technologies which use geometric form to impart enhanced structural-mechanical functionality.  

His PhD project focuses on the parametric design, synthesis and characterisation of lightweight volumetric structures assembled from interlocking planar slices and inspired by traditional papercraft "sliceforms". These flat-foldable structures can be synthesised according to a range of deployed geometries yet are neither rigid mechanisms nor rigid structures requiring the development of a new approach to capture and characterise their compliant kinematics.

 Sliceform Gridshell  Sliceform Torus

Tim's masters project entitled "My big curly scarf", also supervised by Dr Seffen, concerned an investigation of the postbuckled behaviour of thin shells when subjected to a non-uniform growth strain, as may be imparted by some crochet patterns and comparable to the mechanism employed by plants in the generation of complex leaf curvatures. This project employed a combination of numerical investigation and analytical modelling to identify simple laws governing the non-developable geometry of the final postbuckled form.

His wider interests include:

  • Deployable Structures
  • Compliant & Overconstrained Mechanisms
  • Parametric Design & Digital Manufacturing
  • Origami / Kirigami / Papercraft
  • Kinematic Metamaterials
  • Soft Robotics
  • Plate and Shell Mechanics
  • Finite element analysis


Key publications: 
    • Watson, T., & Seffen, K. A. (2017). Deployable Rotationally Symmetric Sliceforms. Interfaces: Architecture.Engineering.Science [Proceedings of the IASS Annual Symposium 2017].


Teaching and Supervisions

  • Supervisor for Engineering Tripos Part 1B (Second year) P2 Structures course at Selwyn College. 2016-19
Supervisor: Dr Keith Seffen

Contact Details

University of Cambridge
Engineering Department
Trumpington Street
Not available for consultancy