The U.S. government’s Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the first nuclear weapons, was a massive but highly secretive World War II undertaking that involved thousands of scientists and engineers at dozens of sites across the nation. They included a few with Rolla connections, most notably Thomas G. Day, a professor of organic chemistry at S&T in the 1940s, who served as an “administrative assistant to one of the scientific divisions” and “gave himself wholeheartedly to the work and made a real contribution to it,” wrote Harold C. Urey, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist who played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb. Another Rolla professor, Harold Q. Fuller, worked on the Manhattan Project during 1944-1945 before joining the S&T physics faculty, where he served as department chair 1948-1970. According to the Atomic Heritage Foundation, two Rolla graduates also worked on the Manhattan Project. Max L. Custis, a 1944 chemical engineering graduate, and Sam Tarson, who earned a mechanical engineering degree in 1947, both worked in a “Special Engineer Detachment” at the K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Share This Story

Spark a Memory?

Share your story! Fill out the form below to share your fondest memory or anecdote of S&T. If you'd prefer not typing, you can also share by phone at 833-646-3715 (833-Miner150).

AJ (Bedwell) and Patrick Prawitz

AJ (Bedwell) and Patrick Prawitz

AJ (Bedwell) and Patrick Prawitz met in spring 2004 as castmates of the musical, Annie Get Your Gun. “I was…

Pam (Thebeau) and Dennis Leitterman

Pam (Thebeau) and Dennis Leitterman

Although both Pam (Thebeau) and Dennis Leitterman started as freshmen in fall 1971, they didn’t meet until August 1975. “I…

Communications entrepreneur and social engineer

Communications entrepreneur and social engineer

Kwesi Sipho Umoja, EE’67, says that Dr. Martin Luther King’s death had a profound effect on his perception of tomorrow….

Kathy (Stone) and Bob Phillips

Kathy (Stone) and Bob Phillips

Kathy (Stone) and Bob Phillips were both living in TJ Hall’s North Tower when they met in August 1986 while…

Memories from “Mr. Miner,” Jerry Bayless

Memories from “Mr. Miner,” Jerry Bayless

After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1959, Jerry Bayless began teaching in the department...

Abby (Pittroff) and Ryan Riess

Abby (Pittroff) and Ryan Riess

Student athletes Abby (Pittroff) and Ryan Riess met in August 2002 outside the campus’s Rayle Cafeteria. “I thought to myself,…