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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Charles Cooper

Research AssociateChicago, IL

MITWilmington, DE
Manhattan Project VeteranProject Worker/StaffScientist

Charles Cooper was a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory (“Met Lab”) during the Manhattan Project.

From August 1942 to January 1945, Cooper was loaned out from Dupont to the Met Lab. At the laboratory, he worked in the Explosives Department. His main responsibilities involved the engineering of plutonium production.

Cooper worked with Glenn T. Seaborg to develop a method for separating plutonium. Cooper agreed with Seaborg to investigate all four methods of plutonium separation, but that they should first try using the lanthanum fluoride process previously developed by Seaborg. Using lanthanum fluoride and bismuth phosphate, as a backup method for plutonium separation, Cooper began to move forward on the semiworks near Stagg Field.

Cooper was the first DuPont employee loaned to the University of Chicago.

 

Early Years

Charles Milton Cooper was born on June 27, 1900 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After briefly attending high school in Albany, New York, Cooper moved to Rutland, Vermont, where he finished high school in 1916.

Following high school, he worked as a laborer until he joined the Army in 1918. He was sent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Student Army Training Corps for three months. His experience at MIT inspired him so much that he decided to save up money to go to university.

Working in the machine tool industry, Cooper saved enough money to enroll at MIT in 1921. Four years later, he graduated from MIT with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. After graduating, Cooper worked at MIT from 1925 to 1936. He initially served as a research assistant before becoming an assistant professor in the School of Chemical Engineering Practice. 

On June 21, 1930, he married Marion Clark Grogan in Watertown, Massachusetts. The couple had two daughters, Ellen and Ruth.

While working as an assistant professor, Cooper also served as the director of MIT’s location at the Eastern Manufacturing Company in South Brewer, Maine. In 1936, Cooper began working at DuPont. He began his career at Dupont as a chemical engineer in the Ammonia Department at the Belle Plant in Charleston, West Virginia. In October of 1940, Cooper was transferred to the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware and worked in the Engineering Department Technical Division.

 

Later Years

After returning from Chicago, Cooper became the Director of the Engineering Research Laboratory at the Experimental Station. Later, in 1958, he transferred to the Louviers Building and became the Assistant Division Director of the Development Engineering Division. In 1960, his title changed to Division Associate of the Engineering Research Section. 

Three years later, he became the Associate Director of the Research Division of the DuPont Engineering Department. He held that position until his retirement on July 1, 1965.

At the age of seventy-one, Charles Milton Cooper died on August 26, 1971 in Newark, Delaware.

 

For more information about Charles Milton Cooper, please see the following reference:

 

Charles Cooper's Timeline
1900 Jun 27th Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1916 Graduated high school in Rutland, Vermont.
1918 Joined the Army.
1925 Graduated from MIT.
19251936 Worked at MIT.
1930 Jun 21st Married Marion Clark Grogan in Watertown, Massachusetts.
1936 Began working at Dupont.
1940 Oct Transferred to DuPont's Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware.
1942 Aug1945 Jan Worked in the Met Lab's Explosives Department.
1945 Became the Director of the Engineering Research Laboratory at the DuPont's Experimental Station.
1958 Transferred to the Louviers Building and became Assistant Division Director of the Development Engineering Division.
1960 His title changed to Division Associate of the Engineering Research Section.
1963 Became Associate Director of the Research Division of the DuPont Engineering Department.
1965 Jul 1st Retired from DuPont.
1971 Aug 26th At the age of seventy-one, he died in Newark, Delaware.

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