The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner In this Module, we consider what happens to a project once it reaches the finish line, if it ever does. Some projects, such as the iPhone, are finished at product rollout. Production, of course, continues as a frantic pace, but the design is frozen, at least for a time. Other major projects, notably telescopes and particle accelerators, are never finished, at least in the eyes of the development teams. Rather, they’re taken away from them by the customers, who are anxious to begin work, and convinced that better is the enemy of good enough. Other projects just sort of wither away. President Reagan’s ballistic missile defense system, popularly known as Star Wars, encountered a plethora of technical challenges and budget overruns. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 decreased the perceived urgency of a missile defense system, and the program has languished ever since. The first full-scale test, to be followed by an operational deployment, was cancelled in 2009. The Manhattan Project was enormously successful, yet it stalled at the end of WWII. The US had a monopoly on nuclear weapons, which it wanted to safeguard; yet after the tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946, the stockpile of A-bombs was exhausted. The propeller-driven B29 bomber continued to be the only delivery system. The elite team of physicist at Los Alamos dispersed to institutes and university faculties. Although the “Fat Man” bomb was a massive, inefficient device, no new design work was undertaken. Obviously, nuclear weapons did not go away. In addition to weapons development, a host of ancillary industries have come into being, such as nuclear power generation. The newest generation of thermonuclear weapons, with yields in the megaton range, can be carried in backpacks. What happened? For this Case, please trace the evolution of the American nuclear weapons program from VJ Day (Sep 2, 1945) through dissolution of the Manhattan Engineer District in 1947. Be sure to address the following questions: Q1: What steps were taken to consolidate and safeguard the knowledge gained during execution of the Project; that is, to benefit from “lessons learned?” Q2: What decisions were made concerning the sharing of that knowledge? Q3: Most American officials were convinced that “the secret” of the A-bomb could remain an American monopoly, given adequate security. Was that realistic? Why or why not? Q4: How did the organizational legacy of the Manhattan Project, particularly the strong link between basic scientific research and national security, affect American policy going forward? Q5: With the benefit of hindsight, and modern project management techniques, how could the end of the Manhattan Project have been managed more effectively? Assignment Expectations Integrate your answers to the above questions into a well-constructed essay. Feel free to use tables and bulleted lists, if appropriate. The readings do not provide specific answers to every question. You will need to “fill in the gaps,” using your understanding of the Project’s history, plus the Background Information. Style and format must comply with the Writing Style Guide. ( TUI Guide, n.d.) This is not an English course; however, errors in spelling, grammar and style will be penalized. Provide citations and references. Use of APA style (Writing Guide) is encouraged, but not required. There is no page requirement. Write what you need to write, neither more nor less.
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