Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Charles R. Kniker


From 1942-1945, Iowa State College, like several other universities and colleges, participated in a classified research and development project to build the first atomic bomb. Three federal agencies--the National Defense Research Council (NDRC), the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), and the Manhattan Engineer District (MED)--funded this atomic weapon project at various times throughout the war. This dissertation is an examination of the administrative apparatus set up on Iowa State College's campus to manage that research and technology development. It also proposes that this same organizational structure was used as a model for administering research funding after the war;The Ames Project established as a laboratory under the jurisdiction of the Metallurgical Project at the University of Chicago, scientifically developed a process for reducing and producing metallic uranium, used as a fuel material in the atomic bomb development. That process was scaled up at Iowa State until companies could take over, and for a period of time the educational institution ran an industrial-type production plant as a part of the Manhattan Project. The development of that scientific laboratory and production facility is profiled and evaluated in the first part of this dissertation;The second part of this dissertation is more issue-oriented, looking at the developing administrative structure of the Ames laboratory, evaluating how the issues of security, contracting, and health contributed to the final organizational structure of the Ames Project. The study concludes that ultimately the Ames Project adopted an academic management style despite the fact that it was under the aegis of a military unit, the Manhattan Engineer District. It also examines how this laboratory's administrative structure remained after the war, providing a model for the development of relationships with the federal government at Iowa State College. In other words, many of the rules and regulations that controlled research conducted in the wartime laboratory evolved into the policies that governed university-wide relationships with the federal government after World War II.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Carolyn Stilts Payne



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

327 pages