Harold Lichtenberger was a research assistant at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory ("Met Lab") during the Manhattan Project.
Lichtenberger (center, 2nd row in photograph) was recruited to join the Met Lab while studying at Millikin University in the nearby city of Decatur, IL. He worked in the Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1) group. On December 2, 1942, he was on one of the forty-nine scientists, who witnessed the Chicago Pile 1 at Stagg Field become the world's first nuclear reactor to critical.
During the test, he was a part of the "liquid-control squad" (DOE, p. 14). Along with squad members Warren Nyer and Alvin C. Graves, Lichtenberger stood above the pile ready to drop a cadmium-salt solution in the event that the control rods mechanical failed.
Following the tests at Bikini Atoll, Lichtenberger helped to monitor the radiation and survey the damage to the islands. Later, he became a project engineer for designing an experimental reactor that served as the basis for future designs of fast breeder reactors.
In 1951, Lichtenberger oversaw the construction and operation of the Atomic Energy Commission's reactor at Idaho Falls, Idaho. Five years later, he collaborated with other nuclear scientists to establish the General Nuclear Engineering Corporation. After the corporation was purchased by Combustion Engineering in 1960, Lichtenberger became the vice president of the company. He retired from his position in 1987.
On December 7, 1993, Harold Lichtenberger died at Meadowbrook of Grany in Connecticut. He was seventy-three years old.
For more information about Lichtenberger, please see the following references:
- "The First Reactor" - Report from the Department of Energy
- Hartford Courant: Obituary for Lichtenberger