April 14, 1950 letter from J. H. Lampe to Colonel J. W. Harrelson, with enclosures
April 14, 1950
A series of letters stating the intent of NC State to proceed with its plans to build a nuclear reactor. Also included are letters from Pitzer and Lampe regarding the reactor.
April 14, 1950
Colonel J. W. Harrelson
N. C. State College
Dear Colonel Harrelson:
As a result of a conference with the Atomic Energy Commission in Wash-
ington on Thursday, April 13, North Carolina State College of the con-
solidated University of North Carolina has been encouraged to proceed
with its program in Nuclear Engineering and with its proposed nuclear
reactor. Enclosed is a copy of a letter written by Director K. S. Pit-
zer of the Division of Research of the Atomic Energy Commission. This
letter was written to Acting President Carmichael and Dr. Pitzer asked
me to place the designated copy in your hands. I am also enclosing a
copy of a letter which I wrote to the Atomic Energy Commission setting
forth certain technical details as to our project. I also want to take
this opportunity to express to you my appreciation for your help in this
matter and particularly for the letter which you sent to the Atomic
Energy Commission in behalf of our Nuclear Engineering work.
The conference of yesterday at Washington, which was attended by Dr. Beck
and me, was held in Dr. Pitzer's office. The Atomic Energy Commission
was represented by a number of their leading technical experts and members
of their legal department. Mr. Carroll Wilson, general manager of the
AEC, and Mr. Sumner Pike, acting chairman of AEC, are both acquainted
with our interest and activity here at North Carolina State College.
The members of the Atomic Energy Commission and staff attending the con-
ference gave North Carolina State College a really sympathetic hearing.
Their attitude was one of help and encouragement and the following con-
crete results were agreed upon:
- 1. The AECthrough its Research Division is sending a letter
to Acting President Carmichael setting forth its position
at this time in connection with our proposal to establish
a reactor on our campus here at Raleigh. This letter is
to be interpreted as a very favorable document, not only
giving us permission to go ahead with the reactor design
but also establishing North Carolina State College and its
School of Engineering in a high position in the eyes of the
Commission. It also compliments us on being the first edu-
cational engineering institution in the United States to
meet the need of training for atomic work by the establish-
ment of a Nuclear Engineering program. The compliment fur-
ther includes our planning for the nuclear reactor, which
- again is a "first" in an effort to make nuclear training
available on a campus of an educational institution.
- 2. The AEC through its Oak Ridge branch has established a con-
tract with the School of Engineering of North Carolina State
College and with Dr. Beck and the undersigned to proceed
immediately with plans for designing and safeguarding
of the nuclear reactor to be built here. The have allotted
a sum of $5,000 which they will spend to fulfill this design
objective. It was suggested that State College might join
with a like amount to be expended through the summer to ex-
pedite this program.
- 3. It is further emphasized that the Safeguard Committee of the
AEC must approve the design of the reactor, the method of
operation, the matter of public health, the location of the
reactor, etc. The approach of the AEC, however, is that the
reactor will be for training and research activity and in
every way be unclassified so as to obtain the maximum bene-
fit for educational purposes.
- 4. The Commission was reassured that the College would take every
means to prevent any association or participation of individ-
uals in this work or activity who are known Communists or have
any suspicion of Communism in their record.
Both Dr. Beck and I appreciate your encouragement and wholehearted support
in our endeavor to develop nuclear training here in the Engineering School.
We believe it is an important milestone in the contributing efforts of
J. H. Lampe
Dean of Engineering
cc: Dr. Clifford Beck
[ Enclosure 1]
UNITED STATES ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION
April 13, 1950
William Carmichael, Jr.
Controller and Acting President
The Consolidated University of
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Dear President Carmichael:
The Division of Research has been most interested in your proposal to construct
a low power nuclear reactor at North Carolina State College.
This letter is to assure you that the Atomic Energy Commission intends to en-
courage the North Carolina State College of the Consolidated University of North
Carolina in its proposal. As you know, there are some aspects of the proposal which
will require further study before the Commission can approve the construction of such
a reactor or allocate fissionable material for the purpose. Principal among these
is the development of a reactor type which will be suitable from a safety standpoint
for location on the University campus and which from a security standpoint will per-
mit as free disclosure as possible of its design and operating characteristics. These
are problems which we have discussed with you and which seems to us at the present
time to be entirely capable of solution.
We understand that North Carolina State College's present proposal is to build,
house and staff the reactor at its own expense, and that the College desires in turn
to have the maximum possible freedom in determining the teaching and research uses
to which the reactor may be put. This situation is a new one in the Commission's
experience, and for this reason we are particularly eager to learn how far it is
possible to go in making this phase of atomic energy available for normal engineer-
ing education and research. We believe that North Carolina State College is to be
commended for its initiative in developing the type of engineering education neces-
sary for full utilization of atomic energy.
The Division of Research is prepared to assist Dr. Beck and Dr. Lampe in
collecting the information and visiting the technical authorities appropriate to
the design of the reactor and the drafting of a detailed proposal. The initiative
in arriving at a satisfactory reactor design and adequate operating procedures
should, in our opinion, be taken by the North Carolina State College.
If we can be of further help in defining the Commission's position, or in
aiding the North Carolina State College in preparing a final proposal, please let
K. S. Pitzer, Director
Division of Research
CC: R. W. Cook, Oak Ridge
C. K. Beck
Dean J. H. Lampe
Chancellor J. W. Harrelson
[ Enclosure 2]
NORTH CAROLINA STATE COLLEGE
April 12, 1950
Atomic Energy Commission
Washington, D. C.
Attention: Mr. Carroll Wilson, General Manager
Dear Mr. Wilson:
For almost a year, at North Carolina State College, development of a
curriculum in Nuclear Engineering has been in progress. In September, 1950,
this curriculum will be offered to interested students. It comprises a full
undergraduate course of study, and a fifth-year and master's degree post-
graduate programs. An attached brochure: "A Curriculum in Nuclear Engineering
at North Carolina State College," describes this program in some detail.
A suggestion has been made that the presence of a low-power nuclear re-
actor on the State College campus would constitute tremendous advantage in
the instructional aspects of the Nuclear Engineering program and in the as-
sociated research projects of the graduate training program. Such a reactor
could also be used as an extremely valuable tool in many diverse projects of
numerous research groups in the vicinity of Raleigh.
The second brochure attached hereto, "Proposal of a Nuclear Reactor at
North Carolina State College," presents a preliminary and qualitative descrip-
tion of a low-power 'water-boiler' reactor, a brief list of the facilities of
North Carolina State College for carrying out the proposed program, and brief
considerations of safety, security, and cost. In this report it is proposed
that the A. E. C. permit a nuclear reactor to be constructed on the North
Carolina State College campus, and that the A. E. C. furnish the requisite
nuclear fuel for the reactor.
There appears to be ample information available of unclassified and de-
classified nature for this reactor to be operated as an unclassified unstalla-
tion, on unclassified categories of research problems. It is proposed that
this be done. The responsible State College staff men involved in design and
operation of the reactor would, of course, be cleared by the F. B. I. and
instructed in the limits of publicly disclosable information. The United
States loyalty of student and research participants, utilizing the reactor
facility in unclassified instruction and investigation, should be definitely
ascertained, but for these it is anticipated that F. B. I. clearance should
not be required.
State College proposes to provide the financial support for the reactor.
With A. E. C. approval of the project, it is anticipated that the requisite
funds can be obtained. Should subsequent developments, however, indicate the
desirability of a portion of the funds being provided by the A. E. C., arrange-
ments for this should not be excluded by the initial agreement.
It is requested that these proposals be approved and permission be given
for State College to proceed with the design and construction of the reactor.
Specifically, in order for the College to proceed in the procurement of
financial support, in arrangements for a building to house the reactor, and
in the calculations and design of the machine, the following definite committ-
ment is requested:
Agreement of the Atomic Energy Commission to the idea that, with
satisfactory design, acceptable procedures, and adequate and
responsible staff, an unclassified reactor may be constructed and
operated by State College on the State College campus.
If agreement is reached on this bais idea, additional arrangements,
relative to an efficient, intelligent program for building the reactor, are
- 1. F. B. I. investigation for clearance of State College staff
members involved in the reactor program be arranged by the
A. E. C.
- 2. Designation of a contact officier in the A. E. C. through whom
the cleared State College men can obtain information needed
in calculations and design of the reactor, relevant equip-
ment from surplus A. E. C. stocks, etc.
- 3. Arrangement of a committee with which the State College men
can, by mutual discussion and consideration, arrive at the
features which may be included in and those which must be
excluded from an unclassified installation.
We request your consideration of these proposals.
J. H. Lampe, Dean
School of Engineering