GM establishes collaborative research lab at MIT

General Motors Corp. will fund a $2 million collaborative research laboratory at MIT over five years to help develop advanced material processing and manufacturing systems for global automotive operations. The collaboration will focus primarily on the use of math-based modeling to optimize the selection of materials and manufacturing processes.

Researchers at a new GM-MIT Material and Manufacturing Systems Analysis Collaborative Research Laboratory (MMSA) will evaluate key emerging material technologies, devise strategies to maximize the return on large capital investments and develop guidelines for tackling new challenges of the automotive industry.

MIT and GM announced the agreement on May 1.

"This new collaborative research laboratory will help us analyze and improve our manufacturing systems, and deliver bottom-line savings to GM," said Steven W. Holland, director of manufacturing systems research at the GM Research and Development Center in Warren, Mich. "MIT is noted for its expertise in the area of technical cost modeling. Based on our experience in working with MIT, we've decided to set up a long-term relationship under the collaborative research laboratory model."

Holland and Professor Joel P. Clark of MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering will serve as co-directors of the collaborative research laboratory. MIT researchers in the lab have 20 years of experience in technical cost modeling and other methods of evaluating material processing and manufacturing systems.

"We're excited about the opportunity for a long-term relationship with a leading technological company like General Motors," said Clark. "The goals are to develop technical cost models and computer tools to evaluate new material processing technologies, manufacturing methods and product designs early in the product development process for their economic, environmental and strategic benefits. The results of the work by our students and researchers will be used to make business decisions they will see on the street."

Faculty and researchers will initiate projects, publish articles and disseminate findings publicly, all under the standard intellectual property terms that govern MIT's interactions with industry.

MIT is one of only nine institutions worldwide to be involved in the prestigious collaborative research laboratory program with GM. The other institutions are Brown University, the University of Michigan, Carnegie-Mellon University, Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China, RWTH-Aachen University in Germany, and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 7, 2003.

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