Article ID: CBB000932243

Implanting a Discipline: The Academic Trajectory of Nuclear Engineering in the USA and UK (2009)


The nuclear engineer emerged as a new form of recognised technical professional between 1940 and the early 1960s as nuclear fission, the chain reaction and their applications were explored. The institutionalization of nuclear engineering---channelled into new national laboratories and corporate design offices during the decade after the war, and hurried into academic venues thereafter---proved unusually dependent on government definition and support. This paper contrasts the distinct histories of the new discipline in the USA and UK (and, more briefly, Canada). In the segregated and influential environments of institutional laboratories and factories, historical actors such as physicist Walter Zinn in the USA and industrial chemist Christopher Hinton in the UK proved influential in shaping the roles and perceptions of nuclear specialists. More broadly, I argue that the State-managed implantation of the new subject within further and higher education curricula was shaped strongly by distinct political and economic contexts in which secrecy, postwar prestige and differing industrial cultures were decisive factors.

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Authors & Contributors
Hollinger, David A.
Paris, Elizabeth
March, Robert H.
Holbrow, Charles H.
Carson, Cathryn L.
Cassidy, David C.
Physics in Perspective
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Technikgeschichte: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie
Saber y Tiempo: Revista de Historia de la Ciencia
Office for History of Science and Technology, University of California
Cambridge University Press
University of Oklahoma Press
Edition Open Access
Western Michigan University
Discipline formation
Atomic, nuclear, and particle physics
Science education and teaching
Science and government
Universities and colleges
Lauritsen, Thomas
Franco, Francisco
Thomson, George Paget
Thomson, Joseph John
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
17th century
18th century
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
University of Wisconsin

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