Posted: August 7th, 2015

Project planning

Project planning

PRM301 Case 2
The biggest challenge facing the Manhattan Project was the production of weapons-grade uranium.  There are two types, or isotopes, of uranium, U-235 and U-238, which differ only in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.  The first isotope, which is only 0.72% of naturally occurring uranium, can sustain a fast fission chain reaction;  i.e., a nuclear explosion.  The second isotope cannot.
U-235 and U-238 are chemically identical;  a chemical compound made with U-235 is indistinguishable from one made with U-238.  The two isotopes have the same melting and boiling points. This similarity means that conventional refining methods cannot separate them.  Rather, they have to be separated atom by atom, taking advantage of the 1% difference in nuclear mass.  There are several techniques, but all require a massive amount of energy.  They are –
•    Electromagnetic separation
•    Centrifugal separation (In the news: Search the Web for “Iran nuclear program.”)
•    Gaseous diffusion
•    Thermal diffusion
The first planning challenge facing the Project was to determine the best way of purifying the uranium, which they solved in a unique, cost-is-no-object fashion.
Q1:  What did they do?
As the program continued, the advantages and disadvantages of the various techniques became clear.
Q2:  What were the advantages and disadvantages of each?  List and discuss.
Near the end of the program, some of the purification techniques were combined, and some were eliminated.
Q3:  Explain.
Obviously, the sort of brute-force approach applied to the Manhattan Project, by a rich nation involved in a total war, isn’t the sort of approach one would recommend to a private company developing (say) a new phone.   Just the same —
Q4:  What, if any, lessons are there for a company working on the cutting edge of science and technology?
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.
The following sources provide a good starting point, but should not be regarded as “the final word.”  You are encouraged to search the WWW for other relevant material.  The ability to independently locate, evaluate, and utilize information is one of the skills being taught.
You should not use the “retrieved on” dates shown below.  Rather, you should supply the dates that you yourself viewed the sources.
Required Sources
AJ (2015).  The Manhattan Project: Making the atomic bomb. (Index page.  See the entire site.) Retrieved August 10, 2009 from
NY Guide (2002b). Management’s Guide to Project Success. (Planning:  Sec. 3.3) Retrieved from the New York State Chief Information Officer/Office for Technology’s Enterprise Program Management Office, June 6, 2009.
Wideman, M. (2015b). Project management case study:  The Custom Woodworking Company – Woody 2000 project.  Retrieved on 7 Feb 2015 from
Additional Sources
Haughey, Duncan. (2009). Project Planning A Step by Step Guide. Retrieved August 10, 2009 from
Jutte, B.  (2015).  10 Golden Rules of project risk management.  Retrieved on 7 Feb 2015 from
Krichbaum, B. Selecting project managers: Project management as it ought to be.  Retrieved on 7 Feb 2015 from
RoC (2008b). Public Procurement Best Practices Guide, (Planning:  Chap. 7.1 – 7.4) Treasury of the Procurement Directorate of the Treasury of the Republic of Cyprus (Chapter 7). Retrieved August 10, 2009 from
SBI (2014b). Mastering project management (Project planning).  Retrieved on 9 Feb 2015 from
TeamFME (2013b). Project Management Principles (Planning:  pgs. 33-36). Retrieved August 10, 2009 from

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