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The Manhattan Project A look at Project Management’s Origins Presented by Team Awesome What was the Manhattan Project? The US Government’s secret project to research, develop, and test an atomic weapon. Scope Management of the Manhattan Project Scope

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the manhattan project

The Manhattan Project

A look at Project

Management’s Origins

Presented by Team Awesome

what was the manhattan project
What was the Manhattan Project?
  • The US Government’s secret project to research, develop, and test an atomic weapon.
  • Research and Develop an Atomic Bomb
    • Uranium-235/Plutonium
    • Scientists
    • Resources
    • Packaging
  • A huge undertaking like no other.
  • Production of ample amounts of "enriched" uranium to sustain a chain reaction .
  • Scientists

Robert Oppenheimer

Enrico Fermi

Albert Einstein

  • Resources
    • Money
    • Buildings/Sites
      • Oak Ridge and Hanford Laboratories
      • Los Alamos, NM
    • Materials

Oak Ridge Facility

  • Complete and Test the Bomb

The two bombs. "Little Boy" is seen on the left, and "Fat Man" is seen on the right

germans had an early lead
Germans had an early lead
  • Originally the Manhattan Project was a race against the Germans to be the first to make an atom bomb
  • In 1938 Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann's discovery of fission steered Germany toward developing an atomic weapon. This motivated the U.S. to launch the Manhattan Project
  • By 1941, the Germans were leading the race for the atomic bomb
  • Germans had a heavy-water plant, high-grade uranium compounds, a nearly complete cyclotron, capable scientists and engineers, and the greatest chemical engineering industry in the world
wwii slows german research
WWII Slows German Research
  • Time became an ever increasing factor in the Manhattan Project
  • As WWII continued, many factors including internal struggles, scientific errors, and the destruction from war limited any successful research toward a German atom bomb
  • Unlike the American program, the Germans never had a clear mission under continuously unified leadership
the project succeeds
The Project Succeeds
  • From the creation of the Manhattan Engineer District in 1941, time was more important than any other metric
  • July 16, 1945 - At 5:29:45 a.m. the first atom bomb, Gadget, is exploded at Los Alamos
  • August 6, 1945 Little Boy is dropped over Hiroshima
  • August 9, 1945Fat Man is dropped over Nagasaki
  • September 2, 1945 Japan surrenders
  • Initially $6,000 was invested
  • The entire project cost totaled $1.9 billion
  • $20 Billion now (1996)
  • Approximately 12.7% of ammunitions for WW2
project program manager
Project/Program Manager

Leslie Richard Groves

Lieutenant General,

United States Army

  • In command of the Manhattan Project
  • $10b experience in construction projects including the Pentagon
groves understood the challenge
Groves understood the challenge
  • Groves asked for what he needed, and got what he asked for
    • Overtook all other programs in priority
    • Virtually unlimited money available
    • Limited only by how quickly the program could find qualified personnel
insisted unity of pms
Insisted unity of PMs
  • January 11, 1944 - An implosion theory group is set up with Teller as head.
  • May, 1944 -Teller is removed as head of the implosion theory group, and also from fission weapon research entirely, due to conflicts with Bethe and his increasing obsession with the idea of the Super (hydrogen bomb).


redundant parallel r d
Redundant, parallel R&D
  • All promising solutions were pursued simultaneously
    • Prevented unexpected problems from affecting critical path
    • When the best solution became apparent, other solutions were frozen
    • Example: implosion vs. gun technique to use for detonation
aggressive timelines
Aggressive Timelines
  • Any timeline is better than no timeline
    • No one knew exactly how long R&D would take, but through building a timeline the critical path could be assessed
    • Refining Plutonium and Uranium was on the critical path
      • Other components were prepared during refining process