PROVIDENCE, RI--To find ways to trim vehicle weight, improve recyclability and streamline assembly, General Motors Corp. will fund a $3 million laboratory for materials research at Brown University.

"We are eager to work with Brown University because many of the best modeling techniques in computational materials science were developed there," says Alan Taub, executive director of science at the General Motors Research and Development Center in Warren, MI.

The lab will develop computer models of how materials behave, beginning at the atomic scale and culminating in finished auto parts. These models will help engineers develop new automotive materials with superior performance characteristics. "The computer tools will replace much of the traditional trial-and-error approach to the development of new automotive materials and processes," says Rodney J. Clifton, dean of engineering at Brown.