Last week I spoke at the annual conference of the Associazione Italiana per ‘Analisi dell Sollecitazioni in Vicenza, Italy on the role of experimental mechanics in the validation of computational models used in engineering simulations. We discussed the conflict between reducing cost and energy consumption and increasing performance and reliability of engineering machines and vehicles. Generally, the former implies using less material more efficiently, while the latter tends to require the use of more material. Engineers resolve this conflict by using computational models when optimising designs to simulate engineering behaviour. The development of elegant and successful designs requires a high level of credibility in the models. This credibility can be established by comparing the results from models with those from specially-conducted experiments; a process that is known as ‘validation’.