In the late 1990s, as the Queen’s Building (QB) at Bristol was approaching its 50th birthday, an imaginative plan for a major restructuring of the Engineering Faculty’s laboratories was conceived.
Together with many other university buildings of the same generation, the QB was in need of modernising and refurbishment and a major scheme for doing just that was put together and submitted for funding under the Government’s JIF initiative. The plan was imaginative in several respects, one of the most important of which was its fundamental tenet of eliminating the boundaries between the classical engineering disciplines (Mechanical, Civil, Aeronautical,…).
Instead, the central theme of the restructured laboratories was to reflect a particular technical area which drew on several existing research groups in the Faculty, encompassing a wide range of engineering applications. That area was ‘Dynamics’ and it brought together research strengths in structural dynamics, control, aerodynamics, material dynamics, and others. Hence the restructured laboratories would be known under the single heading of BLADE – Bristol Laboratory for Advanced Dynamics Engineering.
The preceding paragraph effectively answers a frequently-asked question: “What exactly is BLADE?”: ‘BLADE is a network of interconnected laboratories, each of which specialises in some aspect of engineering dynamics, that share practical and philosophical working processes and procedures.’