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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Lawrence S. O’Rourke began working on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University after he was called up from the Army Reserves in 1943. O’Rourke was among the first group of SEDs who worked at Columbia, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium.

After nine months, O’Rourke’s group moved from the Pupin Physics Lab to the Nash Garage Building, where they helped develop the barrier material that would be used at the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge. In 1945, O’Rourke was transferred to Oak Ridge and continued to work on research and development of a barrier material at K-25. O’Rourke also spent time at the Houdaille-Hershey Plant in Decatur, IL where he helped install and train people on how to test the barrier material that was being developed.

Lawrence O’Rourke's Timeline
1924 Apr 13th Born on Easter Sunday in East Providence, Rhode Island.
1943 Drafted into the Special Engineer Detachment and joined the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium.
1944 Transferred to the Nash Garage Building, where he continued to experiment with different barrier materials.
1945 Arrived in Oak Ridge, where he worked at K-25.

Larry O'Rourke's SAM Lab badge

Dinner with friends during the Manhattan Project

RTC 80D Company

Special Engineer Detachment bunks

Larry with friends at Camp Roberts, CA

Outside the Men's Service Club at Oak Ridge

Larry with friends

General Leslie Groves's letter praising Larry

Larry and a friend

Larry swimming with friends

Larry outside SED barracks

Lawrence S. O'Rourke (L) and William E. Tewes and his wife, Olive (R). Photo courtesy of the Lawrence S. O'Rourke Collection, AHF.

Larry drinking with the boys

Certificate from the War Department for Larry O'Rourke

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